The honorable Chief Justice Hilario Davide, trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, distinguished guests, fellow awardees, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
It is a great honor for me today to be here receiving the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, and I would like to sincerely thank the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation and its board of judges for conferring on me this important award.
This award is not just for me or for my staff in PADETC. This award is also for our young Lao volunteers and youth leaders, who have demonstrated to us, the adults, that they have the capacity, and indeed the right, to claim the space to determine their own and their community’s development pathway. I believe that it is their passion and their hopes and dreams for a better future which are recognized and celebrated through this prestigious award today.
“Humanity & Nature,” a workshop on traditional and alternative perspectives about humanity’s relationship with the environment was held on August 4th at the ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) in Dili, Timor Leste.
Topics discussed included Sombath’s work and philosophy, holistic education, gross national happiness, traditional wisdom, and agro-ecology. A video from an earlier workshop on these issues was also shared.
Government-appointed CSO representatives from the Lao PDR also briefly attended, apparently to monitor who was participating. Others stood for a picture of solidarity just after the event.
I have not written to you in a long time, since you disappeared. That hit me inside, in my heart. It made me wonder what I should do about my work, because you were always my role model, ever since I was a PADETC volunteer while in secondary school.
The first time I saw you was when you explained your work to a group of youth volunteers from Vientiane. At that time, Pui Duangkhae was the team leader mobilising volunteers who were interested in learning about the environment in Phu Khao Khwai. We met at the bamboo garden, and you and Uncle Outhin briefed us before we went to the park. Your words at that time greatly impressed me. You said we needed the forest, but the forest did not need us. Those words made me think that we must preserve and care for the forest, and it was the beginning of my journey as an environmental volunteer. We started by removing garbage from the steams in the Phu Khao Khwai Protected area in 1996. Continue reading “Dear Sombath…from a former Green Ant volunteer”
This presentation was part of the Sombath Symposium on “Humanity and Nature: Traditional, Cultural and Alternative Perspectives”, the objective of which was to present and discuss knowledge and practice drawn from different cultures and traditions that can serve as an alternative foundation to the predominant growth-driven development model.
The people who have the money tend to determine which consultants to hire. If they don’t report in a certain way, they get fired. The two are working together, the government and the private sector. The public is on the receiving end.
Remarks by Sombath at a panel discussion held at the FCCT in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 November 2008.
Our children have no time to exercise their innate curiosities and capacities to explore their world and its links with nature. They have no encouragement to develop their innate emotions of love and care of life and for nature. Time spent by children for nature walks and studying in the open are now replaced by spending time either in extra tuition classes (more cramming and rote learning), in shopping malls, in digital gaming parlors, or in front of the TV. The models of success for children are largely determined by what money can buy. No wonder, their aspirations are all geared around materialism and short-term gratification, and eventually mindless greed.
Sombath, from Talking Points for panel discussion at FCCT in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 November 2008
Our hearts go out to the people of the Philippines, and in particular those friends and colleagues who have shown so much support and solidarity.
Now with 7 billion habitants, we begin to be concerned if we are overshooting the carrying capacity of the earth. The urban population has now overtaken that of the rural. The gaps between the have and have‐not continue to widen. Climate change resulting from industrial pollution is threatening the life‐support system of planet earth. Everyone wants to make more money, and everything is monetized.
We are now consuming more than 150% of what the planet can regenerate. That means we are now consuming one and a half planets. How can that be sustainable, and what will we leave to the next generation? We only have one planet. The policy seems to be let’s get what we can now and let our children clean up the act later!