For the first time in its more than three-decade history, the Philippine Environment Month will be observed online during the entire month of June in light of the continuing health threat posed by COVID-19.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has decided to move online all its activities for the annual event in adherence to physical distancing and quarantine measures imposed to contain the spread of the new coronavirus disease.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the month-long celebration should serve as an opportunity to reflect on the importance of a cleaner environment as people around the world have started adapting to the so-called “new normal” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cimatu said there was no doubt the coronavirus restrictions resulted in positive environmental changes such as improved air and water quality, resurgence of wildlife, and renewed interest in urban gardening for food security and sustainability.

“The stay-at-home orders and other restrictions have somehow allowed our environment to quietly return to its natural pristine state, and we hope these positive environmental changes will form part of the new normal,” Cimatu said.

By virtue of Proclamation No. 237 signed in 1988 by then President Corazon Aquino, June was declared Philippine Environment Month to raise environmental consciousness among Filipinos. The celebration coincides with the World Environment Day, which is observed on June 5.

The DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has lined up a number of virtual activities to mark the 32nd Philippine Environment Month, with the theme: “Protect Nature. Sustain our Future. #HealNature4Our Future.”

For the whole month of June, the EMB will conduct the “GREENVIRO Games” or online learning games like trivia quiz, crossword puzzle, word search and bingo. Winners will receive bamboo notebooks and limited edition ecobags as prizes.

On June 5, ENVIEDUCASONG, the video song cover of the EMB KANTALIKASAN Singing Ambassadors will be posted online. KANTALIKASAN is an environmental song writing competition held every year to encourage local talents to create songs about the environment in any musical genre.

An online storytelling for kids will be held on June 12 featuring stories on environmental awareness and protection of nature. To be shown are “Basura Monster” and the premier of the animated video “Ang Paglalakbay ni Niño at Niña,” based on the storybook of the same title about the climate phenomena El Niño and La Niña.

Upcycled craft created during the enhanced community quarantine will be showcased in the online ENVICRAFT Gallery on the second and third week of June.

From June 19 to 29, entries for the “Sing for the Earth,” a KANTALIKASAN jam session and the ENVILEAGUE, an environmental comic hero design contest, will be posted for online voting for the People’s Choice Award.

On the last week of June, EMB will hold an online lecture series featuring “Surviving COVID-19 Pandemic,” which will discuss environmental management in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and “Way Forward to Green Recovery,” which will tackle ways for green recovery as the new normal.

All EMB regional offices will also hold their own activities, including the “Greenketching” online poster making contest, webinar on solid waste management, environmental quiz bee, Kashun Di Cordillera environmental music video production contest, and plant and flaunt photo contest. #***