As the impact of climate change dials up, regeneration efforts on the ground continue for the race towards a greener future. With the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental education is becoming more challenging for advocates.
In the Philippines, being an environmental worker is even more perilous as the country continues to be one of the top deadliest countries for land defenders. Despite the gargantuan work, threats of harassment from quarrying groups, and other illegal activities, the team of Masungi Georeserve continues to make the dream of protecting a part of the forest inside the Upper Marikina Watershed a reality.
On the frontline of this large battle is a small group of environmental advocates, mostly composed of women armed with big spirits. Part of this team is our on-site officer, Maria Angela “Angge” Dolpina.
As we celebrate Women’s Month, we put Angge and her essential work in the spotlight.
What do you do at Masungi Georeserve? Describe what a “normal day” looks like.
“Hi, I am Angge! I am the Landscape and Restoration Officer of Masungi Georeserve. I also manage the reforestation site on the Legacy Trail. My normal day in Masungi starts with waking up early to prepare for the hike up to the reforestation site. I do spot checks for maintenance activities scheduled for the day. I usually walk kilometers just to visit each area assigned to different rangers. On special occasions, when there are environmental offenders within the protected area, I represent the organization in the apprehension process.”
Performing important and heavy work of on-site education and reforestation, while facing threats from environmental offenders, Angge’s job is not for the faint-hearted. So what keeps her going?
What do you enjoy most about your role?
“What I enjoy most about my role is the view [of] the working offers. Not many are given the chance to interact with nature every day. Working in Masungi has given me the opportunity to be [in the place] that I am most comfortable in. The site, being one of the highest spots in the Sierra Madre mountain range, would always leave me in awe. There, I usually watch the sunrise and sunset if given the chance. I hope that the conservation efforts the rangers are doing on-site wouldn’t just go to waste and continue for the years to come. The view I am appreciating shouldn’t just be [enjoyed by one person] but by other [people, as well.]”
Angge has been working with Masungi Georeserve for more than a year. She has had a lot of unforgettable experiences but a handful stood out from the rest. One of which, as Angge shared, was her experience during the landfall of Typhoon Ulysses last November 2021.
What is your most memorable experience in the job?
“My most memorable experience in the job was during the landfall of Typhoon Ulysses. Back then, Rizal was one of the places in the country that experienced heavy rainfall and strong winds, causing millions of damage to the province. I, together with my colleague, Cherry, was needed in the remote part of the reforestation area. We climbed up the side, walking past mudflows and landslides, with the goal of bringing relief goods to stranded rangers.”
Angge knows that her job requires big passion for environmental protection—and an even bigger spirit—in order to face those who threaten the restoration and conservation work that she does.
In celebration of Women’s Month, we asked Angge to share stories about the challenges she faced and had to overcome on-site as a woman.
As a woman, what are the challenges you face in this field? How did you manage or overcome these challenges?
“Being a woman in the conservation and environmental field poses many challenges based on my experience. For instance, during confrontations with environmental offenders, they try to intimidate me. It’s disappointing that even up to this day, there are still people who think that women can’t perform well in fields that were once for men only.”
These intimidation tactics only made Angge stand taller and fight stronger to advance her advocacy.
“After more than a year of working in conservation, interacting with people, and facing confrontations, I had overcome the challenge of getting intimidated and having my voice heard by being more firm on my advocacies. At the start of the conversation, I learned to establish my presence and what I am fighting for right away. I instilled in me the belief that I can also accomplish what men do. I don’t limit myself to things that other people expect of me to achieve because I’m a woman.”
Angge is just one of the many front liners in the country that prove how challenging things can be on the ground for women. Her dedication to her job and advocacy inspires big changes that can and are taking effect in today’s conservation landscape.
The fight for environmental protection continues and Masungi Georeserve celebrates the women on our frontline.
Support the efforts to protect the Masungi landscape through the #SaveMasungi movement via bit.ly/savemasungi .