Once upon a time, there was a group of islands so rich and so beautiful one poet called them the Perla del Mar de Oriente, Pearl of the Orient Sea. Its people had ready smiles, a generous spirit, and happy hearts. They also respected the earth, for they knew that the land, the air, and the waters were the sources of their life.

One day, men from foreign lands came with symbols and fire. These aliens taught the happy people that to be happier, they should have more material things-things that they should take out from the earth as quickly as possible. In time, the islands were skinned of their life, disemboweled for a few pieces of silver, and the seas scraped for all they could give. And they called this economic development.

My friends, I am only a story-teller, and law is the medium by which I tell the story that the environment is not about the birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees. It is about life and the sources of life-land, air, and waters (LAW). The land and the soil are the skin and flesh; the trees and the forests are the lungs; and the seas and the rivers are the blood and bloodstreams of life.

The economic mindset of uncontrolled extraction and consumption is what got us into the environmental crisis that we are in now-among them the clear and present dangers of climate change. To get out of it, we need an opposite economic mindset-that of conservation, protection, and restoration or CPR. This is also known as the cardio-pulmonary resuscitation of the vital organs of life.

In this revolution, our weapon of choice is not violence. Rather, it is the sword of reason, the fire of passion, and the will, the force, and the power of the law. We cannot have peace on earth unless we have peace with earth. Together, we send this simple message to our leaders: environmental security is the highest form of national security. Anyone who does not understand that has no right to aspire for any position of political power.

Yes, I am idealistic. But then, my friends, so is each and every one of you. In the veins of every Filipino runs the blood of idealism and greatness, waiting only to be awakened. Let us remember, my friends, that “ideals are like the stars. We may not reach them, but we can look up, see their beauty, and always try to follow where they lead.”

Daghang salamat at magandang hapon sa inyong lahat.

“The law is nothing more than policy
distilled in legal language and form.”