MANILA (UPDATE) - Rains fell amid sobs of kin, friends and colleagues of former Environment Secretary and ABS-CBN Foundation chief Gina Lopez as her remains were brought out of the ABS-CBN compound for her interment on Saturday.
White-clad members of Bantay Kalikasan Foundation, which Lopez established in 1999, held saplings of different trees as the environmentalist’s hearse left the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City.
Jo Pascual, one of Bantay Kalikasan’s supervisors, said instead of offering flowers, the group decided to bid her goodbye by planting 130 saplings of yakal, ipil, white lawaan, and malaruhat trees at the La Mesa Eco Park, the reforestation of which was one of Lopez’s projects.
“Si Ma’am Gina kasi talagang legacy niya sa kalikasan lalo na sa mga punong kahoy,” he told ABS-CBN News.
(Ma’am Gina’s legacy is in the environment especially trees.
“Ito ang dinonate namin para kahit wala na siya maaalala pa din siya,” he said.
(This is what we donated so that even when she’s gone, she will still be remembered.)
Lopez, President Rodrigo Duterte’s first environment secretary, led a crackdown on mining firms during her stint at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
She ordered 23 of the Philippines’ 41 mining companies to be closed and revoked operation permits of 5 other firms.
Some 75 other mining contracts were also canceled under Lopez’s watch as environment chief.
“I’m going to do the right thing and let the dice fall where it may,” Lopez had said in earlier interviews.
Friends and colleagues of Lopez from other foundations she founded and developed attended her final necrological rites, held days after she passed away due to multiple organ failure on Aug. 19. She was 65.
“Gusto ko lang magpasalamat sa lahat ng tumulong, nagbigay ng karangalan kay Gina. Nawa’y pagpalain kayo,” said her brother Ernie Lopez, chief of ABS-CBN Publishing Inc.
(I want to thank everyone who helped, honored Gina. May you be blessed.)
He earlier described his elder sister as one who had immense love for the country and its people.
How in trying to find herself, Gina Lopez found her calling to serve countless others.
“She loves the environment because of what it can do for people,” he earlier said.
“If all of us make an effort, if all of us make a commitment to love God, love our neighbor, take care of the environment, [what Gina said] was really true: Our country doesn’t have to be a poor country,” he said.