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craig leeson
Director , Producer , MC / Show Host
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Earth Day in the Philippines

My Earth Day quest for National Geographic Channel continued with a trip to the Philippines where I caught up with some old friends, including tv host Kim Atienza. Kim is the Philippines' version of the late Steve Irwin, complete with hat, khaki shorts and Blundstone boots. He hosts a programme called Matinglawin and we traded interviews for each other's programmes which was very cool. I also interviewed the energy minister, Secretary Alfonso Reyes, who made me put on an Earth Hour t shirt before he'd succumb to the interview for Earth Day (see the photo). When the camera was finally rolling, I asked the secretary what he was doing to help save the planet.  He reposponded that he was saving water. When I asked him how, he said, tongue-in-cheek, that he had stopped flushing his toilet. That mind picture almost ruined my day! The Philippines has fully embraced the environmental movement, with the President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, making an Executive Order that Earth Day is to be celebrated each and every year in the Philippines. We are hoping to interview the President soon about her involvement and why she is leading Asia nations on environmental campaigns such as Earth Hour and Earth Day. We also filmed Bebet Gozun, the chairwomn of the Earthday Network. Bebet is responsible for the Gawad Kaliknga village project (Gawad Kalinga means "to give care"). The village is a special slum area in Metro Manila where volunteers have built environmentally friendly dwellings for the poor. The project rehabilitates slum areas and provides land for the landless, homes for the homeless and food for the hungry. They get local communities involved in the projects and institute biodegradable and sustainable solid waste management and wastewater treatment. The project is funded by international donors and is truly remarkable. The work of this group is creating a visible and lasting change on these poor communities. Don't forget to keep an eye out on Nat Geo for the latest promos we've made for Earth Day featuring many celebs from the Alive Not Dead website telling us exactly what they are doing to help save the planet. 

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