Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today expressed gratitude for the Filipino people all over the world for the successful election of the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) in the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

“The Almighty wrought this masterpiece of nature, but we thank our people for its election as one of the seven best among the many wonders that nature has scattered all over our planet,” Paje said.

He added: “By taking the time and making the effort to vote for the PPUR through text messages and through the Internet, our people, both at home and abroad – as well as our many friends among the international community – we were able to amass the number of votes necessary to catapult the PPUR from a local to a global jewel. This is definitely a victory for the Filipino people.”

Paje described PPUR’s victory as a “collective accomplishment of Filipinos all over the world,” saying that the campaign embarked on by the government and the private sector for PPUR, which he said was encouraged and supported by President Benigno Aquino III, was one that “we can all be proud of, and which we hope to nurture as a mass base of support for environmental causes.”

Paje, who served as the national campaign manager for the PPUR, expressed gratitude to President Aquino for his total support, for issuing Presidential Proclamation 182 creating a task force comprising of government agencies and the private sector to “ensure there is oneness in goal.”

He also gave thanks to major government agencies involved in the campaign, particularly the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Tourism (DOT), which served as chair and co-chair of the task force, respectively, and the private sector led by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn, marketing strategist Tony Abaya and all others who tirelessly worked during the campaign.

“Once again, it has been shown that environment can indeed be a unifying factor for the country; and that if we all unite, there is no reason to fail,” he stressed.

Paje said that despite the many problems besetting the country, the Filipinos remain a “lucky race” for having been endowed not only with rich natural resources, majority of which that could not be found anywhere else in the world, but also of citizens with great talents and beauty of heart. He particularly mentioned boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, who has since been a source of national pride.

“Definitely, we will not run out of great talents in this country who, somehow put the country in the world map,” he said, citing Ms. World first runner up Gwendolyn Ruais and Ms. Universe 3rd runner up Shamcey Supsup as the latest to have brought not only honors to the country but also inspiration to the Filipino people.