For companies involved in corporate environmental responsibility, helping Mother Earth get back on its feet is not just a passing fancy, it's a passion – a passion to make the third planet from the sun a better place to live.

Just ask Ford Philippines

Ford Philippines recently donated Php 2.5 million worth of earth-saving grants to help in the never-ending fight against environmental destruction. Known as the Ford Conservation and Environmental Grants Program or Ford EcoGrants, the awarding ceremonies at the Mandarin Hotel featured six diverse non-government organizations (NGOs) with the sole aim of protecting, conserving and saving the planet.

These NGOs's works featured different approaches to saving the earth, such as ABS-CBN's Bantay Kalikasan Foundation's establishment of a new ecosystem, known as "Establishment of a Central Nursery of Indigenous Plants for Urban Re-engineering of Metro Manila in the La Mesa Watershed." Another approach was the recycling of biodegrable materials, done by the Center for Renewable Resources and Energy Efficiency with its "Yes in My Backyard" program. A third approach was the use of mass media as a tool for environmental situation awareness, utilized by the Center for Environmental Awareness and Education with its "Moonrise Film Festival".

The save-earth six were selected from over 30 applicant eco-crusading NGOs by an independent panel of judges. Each application was based on its merits for usefulness and practicality, dedication and commitment of its participants, financial need, originality and replicability. This year's judges included Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) undersecretary Jess Cariño, GMA-7's Howie Severino, Newsbreak's Maritess Vitug and actress/environmentalist Chin-Chin Gutierrez. "The grantees are a strong testament that we can undoubtedly make this world a better place to live in by protecting the environment. The vision and legacy of our founder (Henry Ford), himself a staunch environmentalist, lives on via the admirable projects we are honoring today," said Henry Co, Ford Group Philippine President.

A keynote speech about illegal logging and environmental destruction by DENR secretary Mike Defensor was a highlight of the event. He stated that P.2.5 million is not a paltry sum when it comes to saving the environment and that illegal logging is keeping him and the DENR busy, especially when it comes to enforcing conservation laws. He also thanked Ford Group Philippines for playing a huge part in saving the country's natural resources.

January's awarding ceremonies also marked the fifth year of the Ford EcoGrants program in the Philippines. In the past five years the program has helped 37 projects and provided over P12 million in funding, all for the cause of making certain environmental programs accessible at the grassroots level.

The Ford EcoGrants program is patterned after the Henry Ford Conservation Awards, which began in 1983. Ford Ecogrants is a global program that has already benefited more than 22,000 projects involving more than 120,000 people in 60 countries throughout Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean countries and Asia.