MANILA - Lea Salonga led an all-star cast of voice talents in the Philippine version of "Nature Is Speaking," a series of short films about the environment by Conservation International.
The Tony Award winner and "The Voice" coach is the voice of Mother Nature in the flagship film, locally titled "Inang Kalikasan," about how nature can survive without people and how people will always be dependent on nature.
This makes Salonga the local counterpart of Hollywood star Julia Roberts, whose calm but menacing delivery of Mother Nature's lines became a viral hit when it was originally released.
"One of the directions [in voicing] Mother Nature, kailangan mataray siya. Hindi siya mabait. Because human intervention has gotten to that level where Mother Nature is starting to suffer," Salonga said.
She added: "Kung nakakapagsalita ang kalikasan, ano kaya ang sasabihin niya sa mga tao. 'You guys have not been kind to me, I need to give you guys a talking to.' Very stern, very direct, she's being very matter-of-fact."
Salonga is joined in the Philippine "Nature Is Speaking" series by Kapamilya stars Piolo Pascual, John Lloyd Cruz and Angel Aquino, who represent Coral Reef, Ocean, and Flower, respectively.
This batch is the eighth international version of the campaign, with Cruz notably taking on "Star Wars" actor Harrison Ford's role.
Cruz's voice acting as an angry and threatening personification of Ocean was one of the most applauded at the launch held Friday at Green Sun Hotel and Art Gallery in Makati.
Also lending their voices to "Nature Is Speaking" are Jaclyn Jose (Home), Robert Arevalo (Soil), Cris Villonco (Water), Robert Seña (Mountains) and Noel Cabangon (Forest).
Cabangon said of his "Kagubatan" role: "May kaunting sarcasm sa dulo, and hopefully makuha ng tao and make them realize kung ano ang kahalagahan ng forest... At sinasabi nga ng film, hindi tayo kailangan ng nature, mas kailangan natin ang nature."
(There's a bot of sarcasm in the end and I hope the viewers understand that. We should realize the importance of the forest. Consistent with the film's message, nature does not need us, we need nature more.)
Villonco added: "I really hope that the young people, ang mga millennials, sana makita nila yung kahalagahan ng proyektong ito."
(I hope the young people, especially the millennials, see the importance of this project.)
The nine character films will be released online between October 8 and December 3, with Salonga's "Inang Kalikasan" as the final offering.
"[A consideration for] selecting the local artists is also their enthusiasm and their interest to be the voice of nature," said Enrique Nuñez, Jr., country executive of Conservation International Philippines.
Explaining the unique tone of some of the films, Nuñez added: "Sometimes when you jolt a person, they would really listen. But there are also films that are calling on, enjoining. Iba-iba, how they attract the audience. Hopefully this will start a conversation sa mga Pilipino. You heard nature, you start the movement."
The introduction of the Filipino "Nature Is Speaking" stars coincided with the launch of a trust fund for the conservation of Mt. Mantalingahan, Palawan's largest terrestrial protected area at 120,000 hectares and with over 1,000 species.
Conservation International Philippines disbursed the initial capital of USD1 million to endowment manager Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation. They invited further investments to reach the USD2.7 million capitalization target.