As part of Environment Month celebration, the Environment Stewards Organization (ESO), a youth organization from T’boli National High School South Cotabato City spearheaded an environmental awareness-raising campaign, tree planting activities, and leadership development training that aims to advocate for environmental sustainability and preservation.

With the goal to involve the youth in nature preservation, ESO was founded in October 2014 through the efforts of the principal of T’Boli National High School, Mrs. Mila A. De Leon, T’Boli Mayor Dibu Tuan, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 12 Director, Datu Tungko Saikul, and four other officers.

Environment Stewards Organization is an environmental youth organization that aims to empower young leaders to be the voice of the youth in the promotion of a toxics-free community through the expansion of ESO-BBT and the creation of sustainable networks.

The organization has also organized several other activities to respond to community needs such as Bangon JuOne Ph, a relief drive operation for typhoon victims, and Project ESOil, a soil tilling and cultivation, and tree planting activity.

ESO’s first activity as an organization is the implementation of Solid Waste Management in T’boli National High School in 2014. The group also organized a School Nature Festival to help their school become an environmentally conscious institution. As of 2022, ESO has approximately 100 members, residents and alumni.

The organization also partnered with BAN Toxics to promote a toxics-free society. Through the Toxics-Free Schools Program (TFSP), BAN Toxics organized training sessions for the members of ESO for the toxics-free world advocacy. The partnership paved the way for the expansion of the organization to ESO-Batang Bantay Toxics (ESO-BBT). ESO-BBT advocates for both environmental protection and sound chemicals management.

ESO-BBT Coordinators and T’Boli National High School teachers, Joy Rodriguez and Rebo Salvalosa (L-R) pose for toxics-free schools.

“Fun activities related to environmental consciousness and awareness motivate the youth. We see to it that the campaign we are running is creative and enjoyable for the participants. We make sure that it is engaging and something that the youth are also good at, like innovating activities that are in the trend such as using social media as a platform to spread awareness. And, of course, the youth are very concerned about environmental preservation as long as they are given the appropriate platform and avenue,” says Mr. Rebo Salvalosa, coordinator of ESO-BBT.

“ESO always espouses to ‘bring the youth, schools, and communities to a cleaner, greener, safer, and healthier environment.’ The organization pledges to continue its commitment towards achieving a toxics-free world.” Salvalosa added.

ESO-BBT qualified as a finalist in TAYO 18 Awards, The 18th Search for the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards by TAYO Foundation. ESO’s WAITT @ Home: The ESO qWARantine Challenge was recognized by the award-giving body for its valuable contribution to the youth during the pandemic.

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