5 Decades, 5 Champions: Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we will be featuring 5 local Environmental Defenders who tirelessly fought and championed their respective environmental causes in the last 5 decades.
Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan is a Filipino journalist and activist, born and raised in Baguio City, Benguet. He is currently the Director of the Cordillera Ecological center, and the proprietor of The Habitat. He has dedicated his life to bringing about positive change in the environment, and training eco warriors, as well as fighting environmental decay in the Cordillera region through his Forestation and Livelihood Youth Movement, an effort to empower the youth to take responsibility for the environmental and livelihood well-being of their communities.
His vision for the initiative is to “bridge communication across culture, region, education, and socio-economic backgrounds through collaboration on ecologically and socially responsible environmental enterprises for the Cordillera region” which was done one through sustainable leadership training and the development of for-profit social enterprises funded through microfinancing and resource-sharing. In 1989, Dr. Bengwayan had bought a five hectare farm in Tublay, Benguet now known as The Habitat and has since been transformed into an eco tourism site, and an ecological reserve, featuring many indigenous trees of the Philippines, the intercropping of Arabica coffee and pineapples, as well as petroleum nut trees. The Habitat has also been known to be a paradise for indigenous birds, especially quails and absorbs almost four tons of carbon dioxide every year and can provide oxygen for about 1,300 people.
In 2006, Dr. Bengwayan had made a significant discovery in sutainable energy, through his biofuel made from petroleum nut (Pittosporum resineferum) which can power lighting, heating, and small gasoline engines, as well as being a viable replacement for LPG.
“It would be a shame for us to leave a world to our children much worse than what we have inherited. Trees stand for life and everything that has life is sacred. Trees stand for tomorrow’s nature. We shall stand or fall with them.”