, DECEMBER 21, 2007  (MALAYA) By Modelynn Quidet  (A fourth-year student of the Misamis Occidental National High School bested 373 participants from 115 high schools nationwide in the 5th World Environment Day Essay Writing Contest. Modelynn Quidet was awarded P15,000, a personal computer and a computer set for her school. This is her winning essay.)

It is amazing how Mother Nature loves us Filipinos so much to provide us with everything we will ever need: water when we are thirsty, heat when we are cold, food when we are hungry and everything else in between. There can never be a more perfect place to live in than the land of abundance, wealth and splendor – the Philippines . Its people have been blessed to be given the chance to experience its gifts. Yet with the natural instinct of man to stand alone, a Filipino focused on another path different from that already planned by Nature. This can only lead him, whether he is aware or not, to his own destruction when his plans flop.

It seems impossible for a country so blessed with natural sources to experience even the slightest of problems. It seems impossible for its people to experience poverty, loss or even discontentment. With a land so gifted, residents outside the country could only presume our problems to be not concerning our needs, but we Filipinos know in full fact it is just that. Since when did living become a euphemism for surviving? Since when did money become the measure for one’s wealth? Since when did the terms struggle and hardship become part of every day conversations? These questions only strengthened the fact that we no longer know the place that we live in anymore. Thousands of Filipinos ask these questions but millions experience the very things.

So, what led us to these difficulties that even the lightly blessed countries did not experience? For one, in our efforts to make life easier for us, we’ve convene on something we thought could help – fossil fuels for energy. Looking only at the better side of things, we forgot to take a peek at the dangers it brought to the table.

One fact is that energy has become a vital input in a country’s growth. At present, the Philippines’ energy needs have been efficiently fulfilled by fossil fuels, the continuous consumption of which yields negative economic and environmental threats. For one, in a country’s dependency on fossil fuels, it is exposed to oil price and fluctuations which can seriously undermine the energy security of the nation. Because of this, food prices and transport services are directly affected by oil price in the market, poverty ratings go up and the race to survival begins. Another is that the combustion of these kinds of fuels creates large amounts of greenhouse gas release. An increase in concentration of these gases, through emissions, causes an imbalance in the Earth-Atmosphere system thus changing the regional or global climates of the earth over time. Plus, these fossil fuels take billions of years to be created so we say they are irreplaceable – once we use them up, they’re gone forever!

And yet nature left us hope! Looking around us, we see our answer – Renewable Energy. It uses natural sources that can be replaced or "renewed" by nature without harming the environment. It uses natural sources, which the country is abundant in. "Renewables" is what we call the energy we get from the sunlight, the wind, the tides, and the earth’s heat. Renewables are the only source that provides cost-effective energy supply with big carbon-savings. Renewable energy flows are more than enough to supply for our energy needs. This is because majority of the renewable energy technologies today are indirectly and directly powered by the sun and there is no shortage of solar derived energy on earth. Plus, with the abundance of the blessings provided by Nature on the Philippines, shortage on these sources may be the last thing we will ever experience.

When given the chance, renewables can deliver as the main source for energy supply. It can provide everything fossil fuels currently offer in terms of energy services, minus the pollution. Another benefit of discovering a new source of energy is that it can provide a new industry, in turn, provide new jobs. The renewable energy industry is labor intensive so manpower is a must in harnessing such energy. This provides an opportunity for Filipinos to acquire jobs to feed their families and elevate their lives. Renewable energy also boosts a country’s economy. We could save the funds we are supposed to spend on fossil fuels and use it to develop our own renewable energy technologies. Since there is no more need for energy imports, the money stays within the country. An industry like this in the Philippines will for sure be the foundation to a more progressive economy. People can "live" without oil price affecting their purchase of food and transportation services. Through this, we uphold the usage of renewables and help the environment while having the energy security in our land firmly within our grasp.

With political commitment renewables can deliver to its full potential. The progress on the usage of renewables in solely supplying our energy needs is still in the budding process. What we need now to do now is expand first on renewable energy sources and wait for the proper time. Filipino consumers have their part to act too. They need awareness on such topics and participate in mapping out their energy future. They should have a say on the kind of energy they use everyday. They should be alert on the negative impacts of coal on humans and on the environment. They should take part in behalf of the generations to come.

So, can renewable energy really save our country? The answer fortunately, is yes. There are many sources of Renewable energy here in the Philippines that can provide us with strong and steady source of electricity for our baseload needs. To take advantage of these, though, we have to speed up renewable energy installation, develop a broad range of renewable energy technologies and develop strong energy-saving programs. Taking these steps, seriously, we can start shutting off the most polluting power stations in the Philippines and shift to a more beneficial source of energy supply.

Renewables play a major role as an alternative to fossil fuels for energy supply here, in the Philippines . Renewables is the "solution" to the economic difficulties that we experience right now brought about by fossil fuels. Through this, we help the environment and our country without sacrificing our comfort zone – our lifestyle in the modern times of living. What we can do now is work with what we have and use it to its full potential. We can use the beauty of the Philippines to our own advantage with renewable energy. It is cleaner. It is better. It is better. It is about time we make the ones who really cared proud of us once more.

Let us do it for the Filipino and for nature!

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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