National Geographic Explorer and World Wide Fund (WWF) Philippines’ National Youth Council (NYC) member Gab Mejia organized a project called KAGUBATAN, which aims to use the power of art to make an impact for our watersheds and forests in the Philippines. He shared, “It might not be immediately clear for most Filipinos but forests have a multitude of benefits in many aspects of our life that we take for granted such as clean water, clean air, food, livelihood and many more.”
The project involves young artists in the Philippines who want to use their art to bring the beauty of nature back into the minds of people. It will stage an educational webinar series at 5:00 p.m. on October 18, 2021, on October 30, 2021 and on November 19, 2021.
Webinars dubbed Art for Conservation Conversation will feature artists along with WWF-Philippines’ Forest for Water program manager Paolo Pagaduan to engage and educate audiences about the importance of forests and the Ipo Watershed. In recent years, the watershed’s forest cover has dramatically dropped from 85 percent to just 40 percent.
“Water does not just come from the faucet,” Pagaduan explained. “Most of Metro Manila’s residents are probably not aware that 96 percent of their water supply comes from the Ipo Watershed. The natural environment there reliably keeps water clean and fresh as a form of ecosystem service so it is important that we protect and conserve it as much as possible.”
A virtual forest exhibit will be launched on November 10, 2021. The artists participating in the exhibit include:
- Issa Barte – Illustrator and Visual Artist; founder of For The Future
- Javi Cang – Nature and Travel Photographer
- Sara Erasmo – Still Life Photographer and Multimedia Artist
- Chesleigh Nofiel (Alagá at Sining) – Painter and Naturalist
- Gab Mejia – Conservation Photographer and Environmental Storyteller
- Angelo Mendoza – Travel Photographer and Filmmaker
- Kara Pangilinan – Visual Artist and Muralist
- Ivan Torres – Filmmaker and Nature and Travel Photographer
- Pau Villanueva – Documentary Photographer
Funds raised from the artworks will be donated to WWF-Philippines’ reforestation project in the Ipo Watershed with a target of 1,000 seedling. The funds will also support the Bantay Gubat in the Ipo Watershed led by the Philippine Parks and Biodiversity and the Bantay Danaos of the Agusan Marshlands led by Youth Engaged in Wetlands.
“The diverse young artists work on different mediums of art from photography, painting, to digital illustrations with subjects related to the interconnected relationships of people, nature and culture,” Mejia said. “We hope this virtual forest exhibit and educational webinar series can inspire new artists around the Philippines to take on this journey of curiosity, creativity and to ultimately drive positive impact for nature and culture, to create beyond themselves for the betterment of our environment.”
The virtual reality forest exhibit will allow audiences to immerse themselves in an environmental journey following a river that goes from lush mountain forests down through agroforests and eventually to wetland forests. It will showcase artworks by the artists showing forest landscapes, endemic flora and fauna and people who depend on the forests.
Art and storytelling are powerful tools to connect humans with nature and the Conservation Conversation series will be one way to bring the beauty and importance of nature closer to Filipinos, according to Mejia. He said, “As we humans crave intimacy and relationships, art gives us a profound understanding and depiction of the world and the diverse environments we navigate in.”
“This exhibit sheds light on the forests of the Philippines and its invaluable role in providing solutions for these environmental issues,” Mejia continued. “We hope it also empowers and inspires a new generation of local artists to create and pursue a career in the arts working for the conservation of nature.”