NatGeo's Earth Day Run to save Mother Earth...really?

Posted by The Red Devil on Monday, April 23, 2012 in , , , , ,
I've pondered about this. A lot of times. Too may times in fact that I have put off making a post about it because I was worried about how the people would react when they read it on my professional website. Then I figured, I SHOULD write this on my professional blog rather than my personal (private) one because if I can make a difference and change the perception of just ONE person, then my job and whatever meager celebrity status I posses has done something right. However, I have to also make a statement that this is MY personal opinion and is not necessarily the opinion of the companies I work for.

For about 3 years now, there is this ongoing "fad" of "going green" and saving the earth. To the credit of these organizations, they've pretty much done everything. They've had Public Service Advertisements, they've had celebrity endorsements, they've had pamphlets and leaflets and even people in malls and underground tunnels stopping you on your lunch break or your commute home, just to talk to you about how you can save the earth. I give them credit for that. It's not an easy task to disseminate information especially about a cause that people do not seem to give a rat's behind about. (Which ironically, they should because in case they've forgotten, this affects them big time too. Last time I checked, you lived in this planet too.) The next and probably the best solution for them, was to ride on something that was popular and tag it with the mission! Ergo, running.

Don't get me wrong, I know people run for several reasons and most of them are for health. The Philippines gave us a lot of honors in the sport and a lot of runners have become excellent role models. This current passion for running for a cause, however, is something that can be defined more as an "event" rather than a "sport" and just like every other event, it becomes a "party" - a place to be, an event to be seen in and seen at, a venue to increase your popularity and social status.

One could say that I'm being too harsh. There truly could be good intentions behind the event. I'm not contesting that. There WERE good intentions and that was the entire broken premise and promise of it. So, they want to save the earth... that's great! How would this event save the earth then? By raising awareness? The official text from their commercials say:
Are you ready to run for Mother Nature?  We are.
In our never ending quest to encourage more Filipinos to go green and save Mother Earth, NGC is staging the 3rd Earth Day Run, the country’s premier race for the environment.
This time, thousands more of students, professionals, athletes, health buffs and celebrities will run in the 3K, 5K, 10K and 21K races, to show Mother Earth we all care about its health in a fun and exciting way.  At NGC, this is who we are.
Get ready to hit the road, run and make a stand for the environment.
Again, I ask, how is this going to encourage more Filipinos to go green and save Mother Earth?  How will running for a race actually save the planet? Their own website does not even answer this question. Previous blog posts and internet mentions of the NatGeo Earth Day run on its first year does not even say anything about how this event will inspire people to save the earth! Don't believe me? Do your own Google search.

Now, I'm honestly curious. How do they measure the effectiveness of the event? Do they say the event is successful when there are significant changes in pollution Is it successful when we see the drastic improvement in the state our waters are in? Do we have the numbers of the people who have changed their lifestyle and have truly decided to Go Green? Or do we measure the success by the number of participants who have (by the way) paid to join this event? Where does the money go? What earth conservation projects does it fund and support? How come nobody's asking these questions before they join?! Kasi, it's all about "Uy, si Ano, pupunta daw sa event na yan! Punta na rin tayo! Baka magkatabi kami ni Kwan, magpapa picture ako! O kaya piktyuran mo ako! Tapos tag mo ako sa FB ha?" Yun...

But the super saiyan kick to the gonads is this picture:
Photo by Francis Pasion

This was from the recently concluded NatGeo Earth Day Run. Yes. See that chick at the right side? Yeah. She's caught in the act of throwing that paper cup right there at the gutter.

Photo from ironbaby.blogspot.com. Read his post here.

Photo from ironbaby.blogspot.com

Come on guys! Get your act together!! This isn't making people aware about their capabilities of saving the planet. This is encouraging them to litter. Did you not think about maybe providing garbage bins at strategic locations at the event? Surely, as people who publicly profess their passion in saving the planet, you must have thought about the possibility that the participants are going to have items that may be potential garbage and that they would require proper waste disposal receptacles, right? As event organizers, it is part of the service contract to ensure that the venue and its vicinity would not be affected by vandalism or litter, right? How is BCG okay with this? Would they give National Geographic the same treatment as with the smaller event organizers when it comes to ensuring the cleanliness of the site?

(Update: The events group did have designated trash bins, according to those who attended the event. Read it here. For those who are curious as to who the event organizers are, it's Event King Corp, as per the comment number 80 on this blog. Also check this Facebook page and read the threads. It is interesting to note that one participant who was there last year also reported that the same thing happened. Another interesting blog post to read, as well as its comments is this one.)

Patrick Moore, an ecologist and environmentalist and oh yeah, the founder of Greenpeace (the grand mother of all environmental groups) couldn't have said it better when he said "The problem with environmentalism is that is is elitist." You can watch his statement here in this video:


The fact is, people went to this event. Did they go there in bikes? What mode of transportation did they take? How much carbon emission did these vehicles produce? Did they clean up after themselves? 

Well, to answer that question, The organizers of the run officially came out with this statement from this website (This is a satirical piece from the website. This is not the official statement. Apparently, there is NO OFFICIAL STATEMENT from them):

In a press release addressed to Mother Earth, Juardencio Turcuatico, Territory Director for Fox International Channels – Philippines, said that National Geographic was very sorry for the harm and damage that the event may have caused to her and promises that it wouldn’t happen again in the future.
“It was an event to honor you, like a birthday celebration,” said the letter. “But we somehow botched it and instead of making you, Mama Earth, happy, I think, no, I believe that we have made you even sadder. And for that we are very sorry,”
He added, “It was an oversight on our part. We never thought that the runners would be so irresponsible as to throw them away haphazardly,” he added. “We should have known better than to offer them drinks on cups and bottles.”
May I just strip this apart? The fact that they addressed it to Mother Earth was PR Genius! It made them look like a little kid who made a mistake and promised never to do it again. It would have been effective (and cute) had they been actual 5 years old kids who made an honest mistake. But they're not. They're grown men and women who planned this for almost a year. So, inasmuch as I appreciate the gesture, it ill befits you.

An oversight you say? Really? How much did you pay your event organizers to ensure that this event ran smoothly, INCLUDING preparing for every single possible screw up? I worked in events before. I knew that if I didn't have a plan B or a plan C or even a "super-duper-almost-psychic" plan F, my boss will torture me and then serve my head on a plastic platter to serve to hungry dogs. "We should have known better than to offer them drinks on cups and bottles". Yes, yes you should have. You had a "kit" for sale, right? Or at least the participants got something for their money, right? Well, wouldn't it have been better if you put a reusable water bottle there with your brand on the bottle and then set up refilling stations? But no... you had sponsors to please as well... Eh di sana, inilagay nyo na rin ang logos ng mga sponsors ninyo sa water bottle! Di ba? Hitting two birds with one stone! In this case kasi it was a matter of hitting about 10 thousand paper cups or more plus about hundreds of plastic bottles hitting the gutters and the streets...

But wait... there's more... The organizers also said that they're thinking of moving the venue to either Smokey Mountain or Payatas.

“We are planning to change the venue for NatGeo Earth Run 2013. We are still deciding whether to hold it in Smokey Mountain or in Payatas,” revealed Turcuatico. “This way, participants CAN throw the cups and bottles anywhere along the way.” He also mentioned that they would be using biodegradable materials for the cups, bottles and even the singlets.
Teka lang... So, dadalhin ninyo sa Smokey Mountan or sa Payatas ang event para PUEDENG MAGTAPON ang mga tao? Are you seriously encouraging them to THROW THEIR LITTER EVERYWHERE?! Teka lang ha... Medyo mag e-epic facepalm lang ako. Di ba ang gusto ng mga environmentalists eh BAWASAN ang laman ng Smokey Mountain and ng Payatas? Bakit ninyo dadagdagan? And are you serious about this or are you being sarcastic? Mahirap kasing mag-gauge ng sarcasm pag text lang. Ay...wait...seryoso pala sila. It's a serious joke.
If the number of registrants for next year’s run becomes lower due to the location, National Geographic might change the venue back to either Bonifacio Global City (BGC) or to SM Mall of Asia, but with one minor change.
“We wont be serving drinks in cups or bottles to the runners anymore. Instead, we would be cooperating with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the Association of Philippine Volunteer Fire Brigades to provide us with fire trucks,” he revealed. Said fire trucks would be stationed along predetermined points in the race and would pump waters to runners who are thirsty and in need of replenishing. Participants just have to raise their hands and open their mouths before passing by the ‘watering stations’ to indicate their need to be replenished.
Again, this is NOT their official statement but a statement supposedly given to another person by Jude Turcuato. Funny, I knew Jude before. When I was still with that right wing Christian group.

Update: April 24, 8:19 AM. On their official Facebook Page, NGC has given this statement:

NGC supports the Earth Day Run to increase awareness for Earth Day.

Conservation is a shared responsibility and we take it seriously.

While there is a photo taken during the run, NGC certainly does not condone littering and the water stations were cleaned and cleared immediately after the event.

We would like to thank everyone who participated and we are looking into better ways to hydrate the runners in the future.
 I've responded, thanked them for their reply but asked that they answer some basic questions that I have:

Thank you for your response. Would you mind answering a few other questions?

1. How would an event like this actually increase the awareness of people regarding environmental issues? How do you measure the success of this event, in line of course, with its mission of increasing awareness and spreading information?
2. How many participants did you have in total? How many of them arrived at the event in cars? Where did these participants come from? (Data will be used to do a mathematical calculation on how much fossil fuel was consumed on that day)
3. Who are your beneficiaries? I was under the impression that this was an event for a cause. If there are beneficiaries, what do they do? How much, in terms of percentage, do these beneficiaries receive from the earnings of the event. I mean, I completely understand that this event also has its share of expenses but I'm sure you also set aside a certain percentage to your chosen beneficiaries, right?

(Update: I've contacted the event organizer, Event King Corp via their contact us form on their website. I wanted to get their side and get their opinions on the matter. I got this instead:

So, their website is down... When I refreshed, this is what I got:


I've sent an email to the official email address on their official website and I'm hoping I'll receive a reply. I said hoping but realistically, I don't think they'll answer. I mean, they've already changed the privacy settings of their official Facebook page so that nobody can post on their wall anymore. Read all about it here. )

Update: It's  10:24 PM, about a good hour since I made my last update. They've opened their wall again to comments)
 My...Spongebob! I don't know how else to react. Ayoko na...


Epic facepalm talaga ang NAT GEO EARTH DAY RUN SMOKEY MOUNTAIN. Well, good thing you were born with very little patience with this kind of stuff, because it turned out be a very strong message to all!

If we were to do an in depth scientific analysis of this situation, we can actually analyze how much this event has truly saved mother earth. If we can get the number of participants, how many of them had cars, measure the distance from their point of origin, how long they had to wait IN their cars with the engine and AC running and then measure the time it took for them to get back home or go somewhere else, we can measure the carbon emission this event has produced. I would LOVE to see them do this. Tutal, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC sila di ba?

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