Employees from First Gen Corporation held a high-tech tree-planting activity, raising thousands of pesos in donations for indigents in a Batangas town whose means of livelihood have been affected by the coronavirus.

The employees, along with other volunteers from First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH), planted over a thousand mangrove saplings in Lobo, Batangas—while they were inside their homes in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The volunteers belonging to the Employee POWER (EmPOWER) program accomplished the long-distance activity on September 19 by joining the virtual tree-planting project that the employees — some from as far as Mindanao — implemented in coordination with community partners in Lobo.

“To join, a volunteer or donor logs in to the EmPOWER program’s e-planting website and picks a preferred planting hole in almost the same way one would book for a cinema seat online,” said Adrian Balicuatro, a volunteer of EmPOWER, which is the Lopez Group employees’ own arm to implement civic and community projects.

For every mangrove seedling they “adopted” for P150 each, the volunteer’s name is imprinted on a bamboo slat placed beside the adopted mangrove, Balicuatro added.

The employees raised funds for 1,204 seedlings, which were planted by other volunteers from the Olo-Olo Seaside Workers Association and Samahan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda sa Pangangalaga ng Kalikasan sa Brgy. Lagadlarin. Through Facebook and Zoom, the donors joined the activity virtually.

Fifty-five members of the two partner people’s organizations received the proceeds from the fundraising portion of the project.

With help from Project Center of Center and Create for the Climate initiatives, the innovative e-planting platform took shape. The platform provided a link between the FPH and First Gen volunteers and organizations helping the indigents, including the local government of Lobo, ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. and the Lobo Marine Environment Conservation Federation.

“The e-planting highlights the spirit of bayanihan through volunteerism. It has raised funds for families in Lobo whose means of livelihood from ecotourism activities have been largely affected by the pandemic. At the same time, e-planting allows us to express and reaffirm the Lopez Group’s commitment to a decarbonized and regenerative future,” said First Gen vice president Ramon Araneta.