The lowdown: Known for his travel blog Ivan About Town, which chronicles his adventures around the Philippines and other Asian countries, Henares is also vocal about heritage preservation and is the current vice-president of the Heritage Conservation Society. He is also a member of the International Cultural Tourism Committee and teaches at the Asian Institute of Tourism in UP Diliman.
“Some people think that heritage and everything old is of no use to modern day society, that heritage advocates like myself are anti-progress,” Henares said. “On the contrary, many countries have long realized the potential of heritage as an economic catalyst through cultural tourism and have endeavored to ensure the preservation or conservation of their heritage."
Success story: In 2006, Henares received The Outstanding Fernandino Award for Preservation of Heritage and Promotion of the Arts. He also initiated the “Preserving Heritage Program” in San Fernando, Pampanga and in 2004 was named one of the Top 10 Best Practices of the League of Cities of the Philippines.
"I do my share to make sure the next generation of Filipinos will know who they are as a people, and to see and experience their own cultural heritage is enough reward to me,” Henares said. “Preserving heritage also means preserving the charm and character of our old towns and cities, making them better places to live in, and not just nondescript communities that have been homogenized in the name of progress.”
The lowdown: Top Heritage Architect Rene Mata is a member of the Heritage Conservation Society. Mata worked with the Intramuros administration for 13 years and was once a curator of the Intramuros Gallery. A member of the UP College of Architecture, Mata also occasionally conducts lectures on the conservation of modern and contemporary architecture.
Success story: Mata has led the restoration of Intramuros Park, and in the provinces, those of Museo Ilocos Norte in Laoag, Ilocos Norte and Climaco Park in Zamboanga.
The advocacy: Eco-urban planning and green architecture
The lowdown: As the urban planner and founding partner of the architectural firm Palafox Associates, this United Nations development program scholar is best known for being an advocate of green architecture. His vision for a well-planned Philippines has made his firm the only Filipino and South East Asian firm to make it to World Architecture magazine’s top 200 architectural firms in the world.
Success story: Palafox received the 2010 Father Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism for advocating development that does not harm the environment.
His firm, whose works include the Manila Polo Club, encourages clients to work around the environment and avoid cutting trees down. "An architect designs buildings, an urban planners design communities,” he said in a 2009 interview. I’m also an environmental planner. I’m a planet Earth planner. That gives more dimension to my work."
The lowdown: The United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) is the central agency tasked with the licensing and regulation of professional architects in the country. UAP also has an advocacy group dubbed the "Green Architecture Movement" which was founded in 2002.
Success story: UAP’s Green Architecture Movement has been holding forums to integrate green-building practices in the country. The group was awarded the 2009 Father Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism, an award named after the Bukidnon priest who was shot to death in 1991 for his involvement in protests against illegal logging. The UAP was also part of the Design Against the Elements competition.
The advocacy: fair trade practices for Payatas rug-weavers
The lowdown: Rags2Riches, a social business enterprise co-founded and headed by Reese Fernandez, started in 2007. After a visit to one of the country’s biggest dumpsites in Payatas, a group of young professionals including Reese discovered the unfair trade practices that rug-weavers had to live with.
The group of young professionals organized Rags2Riches as a social business enterprise in partnership with the women of Payatas, who were able to upcycle scraps of cloth into stylish fashion pieces and thus, improve their lives. The rugs soon became stylish fashion pieces under the Rags2Riches brand name.
Success story: Rags2Riches has helped 400 rug-weavers in 2010 and has successfully implemented the Quality of Life Program, which allows its members to automatically save their income and redirect their savings to investments and insurance.
Recently, international luxury watch brand Rolex lauded their efforts in the 2010 Rolex Awards. According to Fernandez, the financial support from Rolex will support product development and Rags2Riches’s community building center. "We don’t consider anything extra challenging anymore,” Fernandez said. “It is difficult for us to look for successful models we can follow so what we do is derive the experiences of others and adopt them according to our case."
The lowdown: Best known for being Manila’s biggest fan, artist-activist Carlos Celdran is also a staunch advocate of cultural and heritage preservation and is a member of the Heritage Conservation Society.
"I have always been obsessed with Philippine architecture--from bahay kubos to Leandro Locsin’s work,” Celdran said. “It was a logical progression for me to work in a non-profit organization that spearheaded the preservation of heritage architecture. Working with the Heritage Conservation Society was very formative to what I am today."
Success story: Celdran’s Walk This Way tours have helped change the way people look at their own city and appreciate the unique urban qualities Manila has.
Celdran says the most challenging part of getting the message of heritage preservation across is getting the Filipino elites, the landed classes, Chinese businessmen, and Tisoy oligarchy to care about heritage architecture. “Naturally, it’s these people who own most heritage properties in this country but sadly, most of them are ignorant of its historical worth and potential,” Celdran said. “Profitability over history seems to be the order of the day until today."
The advocacy: Youth development for street kids through football
The lowdown: Long before the Azkals made football a familiar sport for basketball-loving Pinoys, Peter Amores and his football crew have been promoting "Futkal" or "football sa kalye" to less fortunate communities in Tondo, Manila since 2006.
Using open, abandoned lots and sometimes basketball courts as soccer fields, Amores teaches the basic fundamentals of football to kids. "This is where you get your first experience and first love of the game,” Amores said. “And historically speaking, all great football players started on the streets. We teach the discipline of football which can be applied in their daily lives and activities to reach for their goals and cope with the adversities that life brings them," Amores added, referring to the perils that Tondo teenagers can easily fall prey to, like drug addiction and crime.
Success story: When he first started Futkal,Amores funded the project with his personal savings from when he worked in the corporate world. "We are now blessed with influential people who have seen our work and finance our projects and events," Amores said.
Recently, Amores worked with director Jim Libiran on "Happyland," a film about the Tondo Boys and Futkal. "It’s about football, life and the kids," Libiran said. "We are hoping to bring this film around the country spreading the football gospel and the same time conduct Futkal clinics for the kids to experience the game in an alternative, fun, recreational way."
3. Henry Calilung and the high school students of the Holistic Education and Development Center (HEDCEN)
The advocacy: Environmentalrestoration
The lowdown: A group of high school students from Antipolo, mentored by Henry Calilung, have been keeping the Tungtong River clean since 2007. The Tungtong River Project, which started out as a science class project, allowed the students to visit the river weekly and study its physical properties.
The weekly observation trips soon became trips to clean-up the river, which stretches from the Beverly Hills Subdivision in Antipolo to the Pasig River via the Manggahan Floodway.
"I try to inspire my students to be true environmentalists (not just when the school requires it or when someone is looking),” Calilung said. “I believe that true environmentalism stems from a profound realization of one’s obligation as a steward of nature. Our planet needs people who are environmentalists 24/7 and not just “switch-activated” so I hope my students’ involvement in the TRCP goes much deeper than just expecting a grade."
Calilung’s student, Denise Costes, said: "It started [as a school project] since we haven’t been this involved during our 2nd and 3rd year in highschool. This year, I realized that no matter how small the contribution we make, we can really do something to help make our world better.”
Success story: "The most important achievement for our organization so far is improving the condition of the river itself. The river is becoming cleaner and more and more organisms are being discovered," Calilung said.
Niño F. Muros, another student of Calilung’s said, "We have many plans for the river which we can pursue even after high school. We want to promote the project and make people realize that not all rivers in Metro Manila are dead.”
The advocacy: Build disaster-resilient communities
The lowdown: Illac Diaz spearheaded the Design Against The Elements competition, an effort to generate ideas for building disaster-resilient communities to combat climate change. Along with the Climate Change Commission, the City of Taguig, San Miguel Properties, United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) and MyShelter Foundation, the winning design (which was announced last January 13) will be used to build a community for the urban poor in Taguig.
Success story: Diaz, who has long been an advocate of social entrepreneurship, generated awareness for green architecture and received 119 entries from 31 countries for the competition.
Diaz is also behind the Bottle School Project, an initiative that aims to build schools using plastic soda bottles instead of hollow blocks for stronger, weather-proof and more economic alternative structures. "The best way to start to mitigate disaster is to build better architecture as the frontlines of climate change," Diaz stressed.
Photograph by Kristel Gonzalez
http://www.spot.ph/gallery/821/10-City-Heroes-You-Should-Know/article/47502#pid=11595city heroes, bottle school
The advocacy: Environmental restoration
The lowdown: Gina Lopez has been a crusader for the clean-up of the Pasig River since 2009 via the ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. "We were winding down with La Mesa and my brother suggested that I take on the river. I told him, ’That’s crazy.’ But a week after, Ming Ramos called and said she was tired and was throwing in the towel. Shortly after, Sec. Atienza agreed to let me co-manage the whole lot: Laguna Lake, the River and the esteros and Manila Bay," Lopez told SPOT.ph. "The serendipity of succeeding situations has resulted in an increasing conviction that it can be done. There is no such thing as accident."
Lopez was appointed as the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission Chief in August 2010 under president Noynoy Aquino’s term. She keeps busy mobilizing efforts to clean up the 27-kilometer river, which has a total of 47 tributaries that has suffered almost 80 years of abuse.
Success story: In just one year, Lopez and the ABS-CBN Foundation transformed Estero de Paco, which runs through Osmena and Quirino Avenues in Manila, from an eyesore to a green area.
"I give myself 7 years [to clean up the river], because when things meander, they lose impact. I am confident that if the government, the private sector and the media continue to work together as we are now--we can make a dramatic impact by the end of this administration," she said.
"I really dream of Manila being green, without hesitation,” Lopez said. “I dream of green zones along the esteros, along the river, wherein the community lives by environmental precepts… Of sparkling waterways that become modes of transportation or venues for recreation—just hubs in harmony with nature and the community," Lopez said.