By Freddie Lazaro
Laoag City, Ilocos Norte — Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos renewed her full commitment to clean and renewable energy during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Forum held at the Plaza Del Norte, Laoag City.
On December 4-8, 2017, over a hundred international lecturers, government officials and research and development experts converged in Ilocos Norte to come up with a strategic plan to address pressing issues on climate change and urban resilience among ASEAN member states.
Among the subjects discussed at the forum were tools and methodologies for climate change impacts assessments; green growth strategies focusing on renewable energy potentials and waste management programs; institutional structures, policies and programs; and management strategies for disaster risk reduction.
“Renewables have become the essence of Ilocos Norte as we become the poster child for wind-power in Southeast Asia as early as 2003, seeking today to produce much of our energy always in renewable, clean, alternative sources,” Governor Marcos said.
Ilocos Norte is generating more than 280 megawatts of its renewable energy resources, hence it is known as the renewable energy capital of Southeast Asia.
Windmills, initially built in the coastlines of Bangui town, extended to the northernmost part of Ilocos Norte. Pagudpud has its own hydroelectric plant owned by the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative. In addition, Burgos has 50 wind turbines and is equipped with a solar power farm generating 7.9 megawatts.
The province has declared an absolute ban on both black sand mining and power production from coal.
As of 2016, Ilocos Norte’s green wall reforestation project covers around 21,000 hectares across the province, with over 12 million seedlings planted.
Reiterating the province’s threefold vision of creating a livable, sustainable and resilient home; Governor Marcos called on ASEAN to remain united in coming up with solutions to the environmental issues brought up in the forum.
“Create a livable, sustainable, and resilient home. That no matter what the climate, no matter what infliction could be upon the communities that live in them, we would remain standing, surviving, proud, and clear in our humanity and compassion,” she said.
Meanwhile, Governor Marcos likened Ilocos Norte’s resilience with the Paoay Church, saying it is the first example in the early 17th century “of adaptive architecture that shows us that certainly (it can survive) storm surges, any manner of landslides, flooding, and so on in this extremely cinematic landscape.”
“Paoay church is our cultural gem, and a wonderful witness to humanity, creativity and utmost resilience. This is a testament to the flexibility, creativity and ingenuity of the human race, that no matter the weather or the climate, no matter the exigencies of war and human-imposed damage, in the end, we will surmount all difficulties and confront challenges with pomp and with flair,” Marcos said.
San Agustin Church, or known as Paoay Church, is an example of Baroque earthquake architecture built and completed in 1710. The church was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2003 and became one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ilocos Norte.
For its part, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Jonas Leones, who spoke on behalf of Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, noted some of the environmental ills happening in the ASEAN region in the past ten years, citing floods, droughts, heat waves, and rising sea levels.