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Usbong Kalikasan: The Dream to be Green

Article by: Alyanna Ysabelle A. Faustino and Albert L. Dela Cruz


Graphics by: Andreah Faye G. Lapinid


Environmental activism is fast gaining momentum among the youth — the enabling force that can make a difference in fostering lasting changes to global problems that threaten both the present and the future. Young Mapúan environmental activists proudly stand at the forefront of the call for solutions to stifle the climate crisis and uphold climate justice through the formation of Usbong Kalikasan, the first environmental organization at Mapúa University (MU).



Planting the Seeds: Mapúans on a Mission


Driven by a zealous passion for environmentalism, Usbong Kalikasan (UsKa) is envisioned to become the premiere environmental organization at the University. Founded by Mapúans André Cayago, Kandhalvi Asaali, Niña Cagalawan, Blasé Handayan, Ian Pulmano, Miguel Teodoro, John Mark Gayatin, and Jarlah Borero in 2022, UsKa aims to empower the red and gold community in advocating for environmental sustainability and spearheading MU’s green transition.


For President and founder André Cayago, the inspiration behind UsKa lies in the steadfast pursuit to go far and beyond—that there is more to saving the environment than meets the eye. “I realized that there’s more to a green university than just planting trees,” he shared.

If we could successfully turn every campus base into a green space, then perhaps we could make a significant impact,” the UsKa President added.


With its mantra, “Mapúan. Makabayan. Makakalikasan.” the organization aims to be a democratic space where environmental advocacies are championed and heard. As one of the founders emphasized, there is no better place to start an environmental movement than one’s school.



Nurturing the Roots: A Call for Action


Strengthened by the bona fide advocacy to shine the spotlight on sustainability, UsKa takes on the integral role of becoming a catalyst for environmental change, but change can only go so far as an idea. Thus, the advocacy-based organization aims to become inclusive among Mapúans.

According to Cayago, the organization draws inspiration for such projects from Carvey Maigue and founding member Kennedy Bantugon, who recently bannered the Philippines in the prestigious James Dyson Sustainability Awards. Hence, at the administrative level, UsKa leads the way “to impose ‘yung pag-improve ng plastic waste management, the food waste management sa canteens, as well as the E-waste (electronic waste) management sa university.” The environmental activist also highlighted the need for environmental democracy, a practice that Mapúans can only attain through three pillars: transparency, participation, and justice.


While acknowledging the bigger picture, UsKa proposes that the demand for environmentalism begins with oneself, blossoming with one’s family and friends, and eventually, the Mapúan community at the micro-level.



Blooming Horizons: Eventful Possibilities


Apart from the Green Campus Project, wherein the organization would push for Mapúa’s transformation into being a ranked green campus, UsKa also has plans for exciting events and proactive engagements for the Mapúan community to look forward to.


Starting with regularly held forums that will serve as the agora of our campus for environment-related discourse, the Cardinals should also look out for “Klimathon Mapúa” which aims to “converge and develop university-level solutions to combat climate change”.

As for those who would prefer social welfare and capacity-building on a broader scale, an outreach program will soon conduct a coastal cleanup, coinciding with a reach out to underprivileged kids in a fisherfolk's village.


UsKa is open to all Mapúans from senior high school to post-graduate school, giving an option to Cardinals from all levels to join an organization that strives for the betterment of Mother Nature.



Flourishing Stems: Realization of Purpose


Each ambition needs to be driven by passion and determination, and starting an organization is no different. The co-founders of UsKa expressed that starting an advocacy-based organization is an undertaking that necessitates the genuine eagerness for change, and the diligent student leadership required to do so.


I think it takes so much courage, […] especially commitment, not only that, passion din to backbone your commitment,” Vice President and co-founder Kandhalvi Asaali’s answered when asked about the toll it takes to start an organization in Mapúa University.


Aside from the vigor—a must-have for those who bleed red and gold—brought about by the quarterm system of Mapúa, one also needs to muster all their strength to embody their vision. “I think courage talaga, it takes a lot of courage and sa Mapúan context, sobrang hectic ng schedule natin,” Cayago added.


Faced with the plain reality that there is only one Earth, the pioneer organization predicates its focus on promoting environmental awareness amongst students and administrative leaders. Ultimately, UsKa Mapúa embodies all those who place value in the urgency and aspirations to defend the planet.

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