Bam: Born to Live and Love the Environment

People say that when you enter college, you enter a whole new different world compared to the ones in high school and elementary. This is where you discover a place that is so diverse, whether you are aware of it or not. There are lots of different people you will meet, and I assure you that you will meet people with common interest with you no matter how unique that interest is.

At the start of my college life in the Ateneo De Manila Loyola Schools, I met a particular person who seemed to be very participative and engaged in our environmental science classes, and little did I know that he was a very active environmentalist at this young age. His name was Roberto Stefano Leviste Azores or most commonly known by his nickname “Bam”. I was able to relate a bit to Bam since I used to be active in the environmental organization of the Ateneo High School, which is the Sagupin at Wastuhin Ang Kalikasan (SWaK) for my entire high school life. It was not after I met him in our school’s track and field team training that he has major interest of caring for the environment. Like what I said, people with common interests have a greater chance of clicking together. Moving on, he is a freshman in the Loyola Schools who majors in Life Science. From my interview with him and to his parents, I can say that Bam has an interesting family background that relates well to the environment and with him being an active environmentalist led me to feature him in my article.

Bam was born June 26, 1996, and he did not waste time into developing himself as an active environmentalist at a young age. Even before he was born, his parents have eventually built an essential building block for his growth to be affiliated to the environment. This is because he belonged to a family of environmentalists.

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An Environment-loving Background

Bam grew up in San Pablo City, Laguna where the geography of his hometown is near to bodies of water most especially lakes. Their family being concerned with the conditions of these lakes with the ongoing pollution that it experiences, took matters into their own hands to help and save these bodies of water. With them being environmentalists as I mentioned, they founded the Friends of the Seven Lakes Foundation in San Pablo City in the year 2000. That foundation turned out to be the staple to Bam’s life as an environmentalist.

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Starting Him Young

            Bam started joining his first rallies to save the lakes when he was just in pre-school. Then again, it was because of the influence his parents had on him and another main reason was the program they founded. That motivated him into starting his advocacy at a young age. Moving on, by the time he reached the age of 10, he was already attending National Conferences regarding different aspects of the environment specifically about lakes. In addition, he then attended his first international conference in Norway last 2008. This is where at a young and tender age, he has presented about lakes and what he does to save them in various countries such as Indonesia, Korea, etc. Further more it was in his mother, Carina Azores’ words that it was both in their liking to have him become an active environmentalist. She said regarding having Bam to become an environmentalist that “We say that our children were weaned on the environment because at a young age they saw us, their parents, strongly advocating for the protection of the seven lakes in our city. There was visible destruction of the environment due to neglect by concerned government agencies. This was the situation that Bam witnessed daily as we live right in front of Sampaloc, which is the largest of the 7 lakes”.

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On The Right Direction

            As Bam grows up and matures, he is able to hone his leadership skills through experience and participation in multiple environmental organizations. He is currently a regional ambassador for a couple of institutions such as TUNZA Eco-Generation Teen Online Youth Network, and the UN Environment Programme where he is in position 5 years running. He also played a part in various organizations as a member in of the Ateneo Environmental Science Society, Philippine Youth Environment Network, ADB Initiative, and the Southeast Asian Youth Environment Network. He was also a president for the Young Environmentalist Society, and the program his parents founded (youth president) where he headed one of the monitoring of their lakes several years ago. He continues to build his reputation by engaging in numerous organizations to protect their lakes. He is also able to exhibit his knowledge on the environment in his everyday life. I was able to interview his Environmental Science block mate and best friend Francis Puentespina regarding Bam’s influence on them in caring for the environment. He stated, “Well, I noticed that he had a lot to say whenever it came to topics about the environment. He is very knowledgeable about the topic. He also likes to talk to us about his projects and asks us for what we think about them. Lastly, he is very strict about the simple things like segregation and proper disposal of trash”.

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Being Involved In The Global Scene

            At a young age of 18, Bam has made his presence felt globally by partaking in various conferences worldwide. He has been a delegate, participant, and youth presenter in conferences that are associated to the factors of sustainability specifically for lakes. He has participated in the ADB’s 3rd Asian Sanitation Dialogue, Laguna Wetlands Caravan Eco-Stewards Guide, and the Children’s Science Interactive Network all within the past 6 years. He also represented our country as a delegate in the Global Youth for the Environment Reform, UNEP 2008 and 2011 TUNZA in Korea, Norway, and Indonesia respectively. This is where he gets all the vital information and education for the progress of his environmental programs. In addition I asked his father, Roberto Azores regarding if they expected Bam to have all these success at this age and he had this to say, “We can’t call it success but it is an accomplishment in itself to have gotten into such international involvement and into the Ateneo ES program, but he still has a lot to learn”.

All in all, along with the rewards Bam receives in his participation and engagement in environment related aspects, he learns about the best practices of other countries, which are applicable in our nation. With college academics being the priority for him in the meantime, he still tries his best to be efficient in his environmental side. As he continues to grow, he will have more insights and information regarding the environment around him and he handles. He seeks to continue and have full focus on their program of Seven Lakes in San Pablo once he graduates to fulfill his dream as an environmentalist. Lastly, some additional words from his father, “His future as an environmentalist will depend on what he makes of the opportunities that are offered to him. We hope to see him do his part in protecting the environment for future generations”.

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