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Anilaw Makumpot Mansumangka was only around 15 years old when he discovered the important connection between forest conservation and nurturing their culture as a member of the Higaonon-Talaandig Tribe of Misamis Oriental.

“The forest is our church, pharmacy, market, and hospital. For us lumad youth, if we forget the importance of nature, we will also lose the value of being part of a tribe. Our identity as lumads is tied to the forest,” he said.

Anilaw now leads the Anak ng Tribu Higaonon-Talaandig Association, reaching out to lumad–young, indigenous people–like himself in promoting and preserving their culture and the importance of forest conservation through capacity-building initiatives, leadership formation, and socio-economic activities.

This story of Anilaw and six other forest advocates are highlighted in the Association of Young Environmental Journalists (AYEJ)’s latest offering of a documentary series titled “Kwentong Kalikasan” that zooms into the pressing issues faced by our forests and the tireless efforts of individuals working to protect them. It is a storytelling project that features the stories and works of conservationists and emerging advocates of the forest landscapes through a 14-episode documentary and TV-magazine series.

Meanwhile, AYEJ is an ecological literacy non-profit based in Cagayan de Oro City committed to educate and engage civil society on environmental sustainability through communication campaigns, training programs, and knowledge product development.

With the support of Forest Foundation Philippines, “Kwentong Kalikasan” offers a unique look into the lives of forest conservationists from all walks of life and their fight to preserve Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental’s most pristine and vital ecosystems. Through intimate interviews and breathtaking cinematography exposing the vast landscapes in Northern Mindanao, the anthology series takes viewers on a journey to the heart of our forests and the frontlines of the battle to save them.

AYEJ has also partnered with the Department of Education’s Schools Division Offices of Misamis Oriental and Valencia to hold the traveling film festival, where the episodes will be screened in school communities of Valencia, Cambangon, and Guinoyuran this February.

According to Forest Foundation Philippines, the series has been assessed by the National Council for Children’s Television and passed standards for being a child-friendly program. The documentary and TV-Magazine episodes will primarily assist learners in supplementing knowledge inputs for senior high subjects such as: Disaster Readiness and Risk Reduction, Earth and Life Science, Media and Information Literacy, and Understanding Culture, Society and Politics.

To further widen the reach of the advocacy messages on the national level, the “Kwentong Kalikasan” series will be aired on television cable through Knowledge Channel from February through May 2023 every Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 3:40 in the afternoon, feeding into their educational programs for Grade 8 audiences.

The episodes are free and accessible through AYEJ’s social media channels, including Facebook and Youtube. They are also available on Mulat Media, Oro Youth, FyT Media, Probe Media Foundation- Kabataan News Network, Oscar M. Lopez – Science for Climate Resilient Communities, and National Council for Children’s Television.

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