The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), together with the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Smart Communications, has named nine schools as the national champions of the 2011 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools.

Handing out the awards in simple ceremonies held Wednesday (Nov. 16) at the SM City North EDSA were DENR Assistant Secretary for Management and Finance Corazon Davis, representing DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje; Smart’s Community Partnerships senior manager Darwin Flores; DepEd’s Nutrition Division head Dr. Juan Araojo Jr.; and CHED Director William Malitao.

In a speech read by Davis, Paje described as “overwhelming” the schools’ response to the call for entries to the competition. “The contest was launched so that schools will participate more actively in environmental programs. We hope that in doing so, the students will also encourage others to adopt sustainable practices,” Paje said.

The nine national champions were chosen from 45 regional champions representing the elementary, high school and college levels. For the elementary level, Iliranan Elementary School of San Carlos City in Negros Occidental; Kibawe Central School in Kibawe, Bukidnon; and San Mariano Elementary School in Roxas, Oriental Mindoro were proclaimed as first, second and third placers, respectively.

Declared high school level champions were the Camarines Sur National High School in Naga City (1st); University of San Jose Recoletos – High School in Cebu City (2nd); and Daniel R. Aquinaldo National High School in Davao City (3rd).

Meanwhile, De La Salle University – Dasmariñas in Cavite; Palawan State University in Puerto Princesa City; and Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City were awarded the first, second and third places for the college level.

The national champions each received plaques of recognition and cash prizes of P50,000 for first place, P40,000 for second place, and P30,000 for third place. The awarding coincided with the celebration of November as National Environmental Awareness Month as provided under Republic Act No. 9512, also known as the National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008.

Now on its second run, the nationwide competition aims to recognize educational institutions from elementary to college levels with the best sustainable and environment-friendly programs and activities. It is the Philippines’ initative in support to the ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan (2008-2012), and the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).

Declared regional champions for the elementary school level were: Commonwealth Elementary School, Quezon City; Lawig Elementary School, Ifugao Province; Cal-laguip Elementary School, Caoayan, Ilocos Sur; Peñablanca East Central School, Peñablanca, Cagayan; Matain Elementary School, Subic, Zambales; San Isidro Elementary School, Batangas City; San Mariano Elementary School in Roxas, Oriental Mindoro; Iliranan Elementary School, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental; Simeon Ayuda Elementary School, Liloan, Cebu; Lomonon Elementary School, Palompon, Leyte; Kibawe Central School, Bukidnon; Luna Elementary School, Kapalong, Davao Del Norte; Panay Elementary School, Sto. Niño, South Cotabato; and Duangan Elementary School, Esperanza, Agusan Del Sur.

Regional champions for the high school level were: Jose P. Laurel Sr. High School, Project 4, Quezon City; Baguio City National High School, Governor Pack Road, Baguio City; Sinait National High School, Ilocos Sur; San Mateo General Comprehensive High School, Isabela; Digdig High School, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija; Pedro Guevara Memorial National High School, Sta. Cruz, Laguna; President Diosdado Macapagal Memorial National High School, Gloria, Oriental Mindoro; Camarines Sur National High School, Naga City; Julio Ledesma National High School, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental; University of San Jose-Recoletos High School, Cebu City; Don Geronimo B. Zaldivar Memorial School of Fisheries, Albuera, Leyte; Siayan National High School, Zamboanga Del Norte; Balo-i National High School, Lanao Del Norte; Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School, Matina, Davao City; Tulunan National High School, North Cotabato; and Esperanza National High School, Agusan Del Sur.

For the college level, the schools that made it to the national level were: Ateneo De Manila University, Quezon City; University of the Cordilleras, Governor Pack Road, Baguio City; Mariano Marcos State University, Batac, Ilocos Norte; St. Paul University Philippines, Tuguegarao City, Cagayan; De La Salle University - Dasmariñas, Cavite; Palawan State University, in Puerto Princesa City; Catanduanes State Colleges, Virac, Catanduanes; Central Philippine University, Jaro, Iloilo City; St. Paul University Dumaguete, Negros Oriental; University of Eastern Philippines, Catarman, Northern Samar; Universidad De Zamboanga, Tetuan, Zamboanga City; Capitol University, Cagayan De Oro City; Davao Doctors College, Davao City; Notre Dame of Marbel University, Koronadal City, South Cotabato; and Caraga State University, Butuan City.