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Remembrance and reflections on the Luntiang Dahon (Green Leaf) Climate Leadership Award

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A couple of weeks after having been accepted as Organizational Development Specialist by VSO Cambodia, I received a notification that The Climate Reality Project will be conferring to me the first Luntiang Dahon Climate Leadership Award. It came as a huge surprise because awards are not something I really think about. Working in the environment sector since 2001 and being an active member of CRP since 2011, I never thought that my efforts would be given any recognition since I don’t do what I do for recognition anyway.

The Climate Reality Project Climate Leadership Awards were given to outstanding groups and individuals recognized by CRP Philippines in celebration of its first anniversary on March 16 and Earth Day on April 22. The awarding ceremony was conducted at the Philippine Senate on April 21.

Of course when I learned about it, I asked CRP County Manager Rodne Galicha if I deserve it, and he said that I am an inspiration to climate leaders. Honestly and humility aside, I get that a lot, and not just from climate leaders either. However, I never thought it is something that would merit an award. It was the farthest thing from my mind. During the awarding, Bro. Tagoy Jakosalem, AOR, who himself is the first Green Ring Awardee conferred by none other than Nobel Laureate Al Gore, read the citation of outstanding sustainability efforts. Outstanding is a huge word and I am grateful and honored that such an award was given to me. But for me it was simply just for being myself, just for doing what felt real and needed from me, and what I felt I needed to do to be at peace with myself and the world.

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Honored to be conferred this award  by The Climate Reality Project International Manager Matt Boms, Country Manager Rodne Galicha, and FPE Executive Director Oliver Agoncillo. Green Ring Awardee Bro. Jaazeal Jakosalem read the citation. Photos by Voltaire Tupaz/Rappler

I was trying to think up of something good to say when I receive the award, but later I decided not to prepare anything, but to speak out what comes from my heart at the moment. What came out did not even sound as an acceptance speech at all, but I meant every word that I said. Here is a video taken by fellow awardee, Cebu-based Mexican Erick Vasquez Barranco, which he posted live in his The E-Cause FB Page:

Kuya Myke Magalang and Atty Allen S. Quimpo were both recognized for their life-long contributions in the Pillar of Climate Leadership Posthumous Awards. They were also the inspiration for the Miguel R. Magalang Individual Climate Leadership Memorial Award and the Allen S. Quimpo Collective Climate Leadership Memorial Award. I feel so honored for having walked the cause with them, and having been recognized while still alive. Their lives will continue to provide me inspiration especially when I feel that the challenge is too much to tackle.

The trophies provided for the memorial awards had photos of Kuya Myke and Atty. Allen on them. For the Luntian Awards, instead of the conventional trophies, CRP provided living rock mementos. Climate Leader Dr Jay Jadloc said that the living rock mementos wre given by Dr Ronald Flores, Vice Mayor of Tanauan Leyte coming from debris of a 1704 Convent Wall in Tanauan. He said that the convent wall stood against the strongest forces of nature for 3 centuries only to be crushed by Typhoon Yolanda.

The rock memento I received, as well as others, had bright green moss and micro plants living on them. I thought if I kept it and put it in a glass cabinet for people to see and admire, then the little lives in it would die. Awards is not something we get often, but in this case I felt like I wanted to give it back to the earth. I have thought about it and after a few hours of receiving the award, I posted this on my fb:

it’s not about me. this is what i’ve learned from one of my mentors, alternative nobel prize awardee Nicanor Perlas in a self mastery workshop i attended years ago.

today, i am reminding myself of this lesson as i received the First Luntiang Dahon Award for Climate Leadership. i was given not a trophy, but a memento from a haiyan affected area from leyte, a rock with live moss sitting on a wooden base. it is also the same symbol given to the Pillar of Climate Leadership Posthumous Awards conferred to kuya myke Konsehal Myke R. Magalang and atty Allen Salas Quimpo, and to Luntiang Panagtitipon Award to the Breakfree Movement, Luntiang Kasilog Award Pusyon Kinaiyahan, Luntiang Karaykaray Award to the People’s Climate March, Luntiang Aligato Award Move.PH, and Luntiang Kapawa Award Sen. Loren Legarda.

as a fitting reminder of how we should value the planet, i’m planning to put the stone back to the earth where it belongs. a reminder for me not to be attached to accolades but to the real work that is the reason why i was confered such an award in the first place. a reminder to put my feet solidly on the ground.

it’s not about me but about the bigger picture, as i continue to journey in this lifetime, pursuing alignment in life, where climate action is not separate from my way of being.

of course it’s nice to finally bring something home to my parents PCarlo Castillo and Cristina Castillo and my siblings Roscel Castillo Pham Roy Castillo and Reagan Oliva other than headache (i am the green sheep of the family!), and give my kids Kim Castillo Tiangco and Karlo Castillo a couple of minutes of bragging rights, and Jagat Rubio validation for his unconditional love and support. at the end of the day, it’s not about me but thank you universe for allowing me to do what my heart desires.

So that night, Toni and I had a little solemn ceremony.

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From my fb on April 22: last night when i came home to my sister’s place, i explained to toni about the award and my desire to give it back to the earth. i asked if he would like to do it for me. he said sure. so he did. the rock is from a haiyan affected area in leyte. here is toni with a very rare smile. we wanted to put it near my sister’s koi pond. it was a solemn ceremony of two. it’s now there. can you find it? no? good, that’s exactly the idea. this morning at the koi pond. it is where it should be. 

So after the award, what then? Two days after, I left for Cambodia to volunteer. After everything, the work continues. As I have said many times, climate action should not be delineated from the everyday things we do in how we live our lives. It would never be perfect. But efforts, struggles, and perseverance to try to walk the talk are already little victories to be celebrated every day. And this is what we call climate hope, hope for us and Mother Earth.

For more information about The Climate Reality Leadership Awards 2017, please click on the rappler link below

http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/167844-moveph-receives-2017-climate-reality-leadership-award

and see this video from move.ph

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