Towards growth and progress for all
By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran
One of the most biting criticisms of capitalism is the resulting inequality of urbanization and globalization. Typically, rural provinces receive limited growth opportunities compared to those of urban cities. In worst cases, rural communities even bear the brunt of urban development, losing out on valuable land and natural resources to monied corporations. So it is a reassuring thing when corporations strive to give back to those communities.
Recently, Lopez-led geothermal leader Energy Development Corporation (EDC) was awarded the Grand Anvil top prize at the 55th Anvil Awards of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP), along with 12 other trophies for communication excellence in its PR, marketing, stakeholder engagement, and sustainability programs.
EDC’s entry “Baslay Coffee: Brewing a Better Life for Kaingeros” received a Gold Anvil and was subsequently deemed the most outstanding among all other recipients, earning it the highest Grand Anvil distinction.
As a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative of EDC’s team in Negros Island, the 30-year old Baslay coffee program aimed to educate and transform slash-and-burn farmers in the mountains of Baslay in Dauin, Negros Oriental into forest stewards by providing them alternative and lucrative coffee farming methods, effectively turning them away from their former environmentally destructive practices.
As a leader in sustainable energy, EDC entered Negros Island with a vision of environmental protection. Through a thorough process of community organizing, social education, financial management training, and the transfer of agroforestry technology, the company collaborated with the community to enact on its principle of social forestry as a sustainable watershed management tool.
Seeing the growth opportunity in the coffee industry, EDC organized the Baslay Farmers Association (BFA), which communally owns a 220-hectare organic coffee forest mostly planted with Robusta (80%) and Arabica (20%). This allowed the community to transition from their previous environmentally-destructive farming practices and narrow the gap between demand and supply of coffee in the area, contributing to the resilience of farmers to price fluctuations, and enhancing the farmers’ capacity for environmental sustainability.
Moreover, working with the local government units (LGUs), academe, and other regional and provincial agencies were also established, the BFA became recognized as the first farmers’ association in Negros Oriental to produce premium and quality organic coffee. BFA has since opened their coffee shop in 2018 near the Baslay Hot Springs, in close consultation with EDC where foreign backpackers frequent.
Formerly ‘kaingeros’, the Baslay farmers are now masters of a growing coffee business and stewards of a forest that is now refuge to 113 species of local birds.
“Ours was a long journey towards becoming forest stewards with sustainable livelihood and we have EDC to thank for our transformation and better life,” said Ruel Perez, BFA’s community leader.
EDC also won various other Gold and Silver Anvils in both PR program and PR tool categories for its projects advocating for clean and sustainable energy. As a leader in renewable energy in the Philippines, the company has a diversified renewable energy portfolio through investments in hydropower, solar power and wind energy projects in the country.
Such campaigns include the Positive Energy Negros Facebook page, the #MaketheShift geothermal energy advocacy, BINHI national greening legacy program, GeoSkwela youth dialogue on sustainability, OMGeo eco-tourism vlog series, and CSR initiatives under the Mt. Apo Foundation Inc. (MAFI) as well as the organization’s 25th anniversary coffee table book.
Held annually by the Philippine public relations industry, the Anvil Awards seeks to recognize exemplary, effective and innovative PR and communications programs and tools by companies, organizations, and agencies, as decided by select PR professionals and a distinguished multi-sectoral jury.
“We believe that just as important as the implementation and positive impact of our various CSR and stakeholder relations programs is the way they are communicated,” said EDC CSR — PR head Atty. Allan Barcena. “We proudly share the awards we garnered with our partner organizations and the people who have made our work successful and those who continuously help us attain our vision of a clean energy future for the country.”
EDC is a pioneer in the geothermal energy industry and the world’s largest vertically integrated geothermal developer, generating 1,457.8 megawatts of clean, stable, and truly sustainable energy for the country.
Geothermal energy, produced by the natural heat of the earth, is among the cleanest sources of energy available. Geothermal plants generate power by separating the steam from the brine that is extracted from 3 kilometers deep. The steam then turns the turbines and converts it to electricity that is transmitted to the electric consumers or cooperatives through the grid. To make this cycle more clean and renewable, the water or brine that was separated from the steam is injected back to the ground.
With over 40 years of expertly and sustainably generating geothermal energy, EDC aims to deliver the benefits of sustainable geothermal development to communities around the world as it ventures into Latin America and Indonesia.