BUKIDNON VIEWS: Reaction to a Nobel Prize Awardee

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MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/15 December 2021) Congratulations Maria. You made us proud, honored, and dignified as a people.

You can only imagine how privileged for a Filipino, like Maria Ressa, to give a lecture heard and viewed by millions around the world on her passion and struggles that brought her to where she is now as a journalist fighting for press freedom and aiming to reinforce--"a world of peace, trust and empathy, and to bring out the best in us to contribute to this vision, the best that we can." So be it.

Like her, I had my own attempts and struggles as advocate. It was not easy, but it was also rewarding.

I remember my own experience in my short visit to Oslo for a forest-carbon conference. My little claim of the limelight.

I was in Norway sometime in October 2013 being one of the Filipino women speakers in the International Conference on Oslo REDD+ Exchange (OREX) organized by NORAD (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) and co-facilitated by a friend from the Samdhana Institute.

REDD+ is a framework created by the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) to guide activities in the forest sector that  reduces emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as the sustainable management of forests and the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. UNFCCC stand for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

I was assigned in Parallel Session #3 where speakers tackled on "How can REDD+ policies, programs and projects support transformative change for gender and poverty?" I shared about the link between forests and women, using examples from my field works in the forests-mountains of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.

That was for a 15-minute presentation yet the travel from Bukidnon to Oslo was at least two days equivalent. My friend Atty. Nonette Royo said, never mind the very short time assigned to resource persons per sessions—“what’s more important was that the Philippines has a representative in the OREX.”

On the first day of the conference, dinner was sponsored by the Mayor of Oslo right in their historic functional superb international fine dining at Ekeberg restauranten that also featured a stunning view of the city - so silent, still, and vibrant at night.

All delegates were ferried via a bus to the Oslo City Hall and back to the hotel. We all had a great opportunity to get to know more of each other; rekindled friendships with forest advocates from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea whom I met before in Manado for the 2011 World Ocean Conference. Also met new friends from Ethiopia and Ghana.

Interestingly, the old and elegant City Hall building is where the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony takes place every December 10th. Wow!

On my second evening, coincidentally, my Filipino-Norwegian youth guide Pio Gythfeldt took me to a tour of their city park just close to Radissun Blu Plaza Hotel where the conference was held. Among the city tourist spots he brought to was the Alfred Nobel Peace Center. He shared how important the building is for peace advocates. I stood in front of the building and had a picture taken.

I imagined the day when the awarding of peace prize to the most distinguished person-awardee happens.

I also marveled at the thought (of who and?) --when is the chance for a Filipino to be chosen to be a Nobel Prize Awardee; and, if it could ever happen in my lifetime?  (Editor’s Note: There were Filipinos who were part of foreign-based organizations – that received the Nobel Peace Prize.)

It happened. Maria Ressa continued doing her work and look. A Filipino has received the Prize. She gave us one more reason to be prouder to be Filipino.

Ma. Easterluna Canoy is Executive Director of Kitanglad Integrated NGOs (KIN). FIRST PERSON is a sub-section of BUKIDNON VIEWS, the opinion section of BukidnonNews.Net website, dedicated to select statements, speeches, comments and other views on public matters. If you want to contribute to FIRST PERSON, email your piece, contact details and bio profile to editor.bukidnonnews@gmail.com.  


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