Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. (MBCFI) one of the social arms of Prime Energy won at the 6th annual Campaign’s Women Leading Change Awards (WLCA) for “Best CSR Campaign” last June 1, 2022 for the entry “Breaking Biases: Women at the forefront of conservation”.
WLCA is committed to promoting the advancement of diversity, inclusion and equality in the marketing and communications industry. They celebrate women who inspire and make an impact on their community.
MBCFI is the social arm of Prime Energy that was established to focus and implement its corporate social responsibility efforts within the communities that they serve. Mainly, these efforts focus on the conservation of one of the islands in the Philippines, Mindoro, specifically its unique and threatened environment through the establishment of integrated biodiversity conservation and development programs.
In order to achieve its goals in Mindoro, the company’s social arm has three core programs, namely:
(1) RESEARCH, which focuses on the scientific study that serves as the backbone of all its efforts in the region;
(2) MISSION Programs, where members of the social arm immerse themselves into conservation priority areas (CPAs) and organize the residents to conduct its initiatives towards community formation; and
(3) CARE, to raise awareness and provide education on Mindoro’s biodiversity.
(4) MINDORO BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION CENTER (MBCC),
This serves as a legacy project of MBCFI. Actual structure is undergoing construction in phases. It will have a museum for archaeological artifacts of Mindoro, an ecolodge, view deck, and camping grounds for locals, students and tourists. MBCC will also provide opportunities for volunteerism programs for their tamaraw study, water-bird counting, clean-up of Apo Reef, and other activities.
Generally, the communities in CPAs are the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines (IPs) called the Mangyans who have a population that mainly consists of males and conventionally serves as the breadwinner of the families, while women are left to stay at home and tend to the children
Looking to solve an array of challenges, MBCFI breaks biases and leaned on the pillars of society, which are women. Capacitating these women will empower them to contribute better to the needs of the family, community, and the region overall.
Recognizing the culturally-preserved weaving styles unique to the Mangyan women, the social arm opened wider opportunities to allow these to become an alternative source of income. However, as these weaving styles vary from one family to the next, products would appear visually unorganized. By bringing in an expert to address this, the company enabled Mangyan women to standardize products and make them easily marketable. The company has even included its products as gifts to be given to clients and other stakeholders.
Another approach that the social arm took was involving women in its bio-intensive farming
program, allowing wives to contribute to the family’s needs for sustenance and food resilience. In a much broader sense, it has opened the doors for women to help support the family beyond being a housewife.
Meanwhile, the local Department of Natural Resources (DENR), the government agency responsible for upholding the welfare of Mindoro’s biodiversity and the communities residing in it, has non-IP women staff who lack the technical skills and knowledge to fully play out their role. Through the company’s social arm, these women were provided a reliable partner that they can approach for necessary support and guidance. Through the silent partnership between the social arm and the DENR, more communities were engaged, and more effective policies were implemented that will help shape the future of Mindoro.
The social arm has also engaged another group of women called Samahan ng Mga Kababaihan in Puerto Galera after recognizing their innate characteristics of being meticulous in finances; and their distinct characteristics in punctuality, attendance, and participation. Through this group of women, the social arm was able to implement programs on food resiliency whose impact extended beyond the group and unto other families.
The social arm also went as far as to help Samahan ng Mga Kababaihan to become a duly-registered organization under the Department of Tourism, which paved the way for other initiatives to be implemented through them.
As a conservation advocate, the social arm’s main driver was to promote sustainable practices and the beauty of Mindoro. However, financial funding proved a challenge to bring in the necessary manpower to disseminate information and execute practices vital to ensure that its goals are met.
Looking at the scope of the land and recognizing the value of its population, the social arm asked the help of the teachers of Mindoro who are mostly women to facilitate the effective promotion of conservation. These teachers are who children and, at times, even parents look up to with respect. Because of this, the social arm has recognized them as one of the best ambassadors for biodiversity conservation.
Through the social arm’s Strengthening Environmental Education program, which aimed to teach biodiversity and conservation, teachers were equipped with knowledge and practices to safeguard Mindoro biodiversity, which they can pass on to the children that they teach. This initiative allowed the next generation to understand and appreciate the natural abundance in their region, fostering a people who took care of and helped protect the environment.