8 Women with a new vision for Earth

Gloria Amor Paredes


The Advocate

Co-founder, Salumayag Youth Collective for Forests (Philippines), and GLF 2023 Forest Restoration Steward

In the fertile highlands of Bukidnon province, on the Philippine island of Mindanao, the Indigenous population used to be self-sufficient, relying on a system of collective farming to nourish their families and celebrate their cultural identity.

Then came industrial logging and monocropping, the dependence on expensive chemical fertilizers and seeds, and the deterioration of people’s connection with each other and the landscape.

A decade ago, environmental advocate Gloria Amor Paredes embarked on a journey alongside Indigenous communities in Bukidnon to reclaim their food sovereignty and security. Together, they’re working to revitalize and reconnect with the traditions that underpin their role as environmental stewards of a unique landscape, home to the planet’s largest flower and second-largest bird.

The Salumayag Youth Collective for Forests, which she co-founded with Manobo-Kulamanun youth leaders, is an Indigenous youth- and women-led initiative bringing forests and lands back to health through restoration and regenerative practices that are rooted in local culture. 

“As a young woman advocating for ecological justice, I have experienced firsthand how the exclusion of marginalized and minority groups can harm the environmental movement,” she says. “Together, we’ve turned our frustrations into collective action.”

The initiative works with communities to ensure the projects are appropriate, relevant and sustainable, taking into account the social, economic and political circumstances on the ground. 

“We cannot restore the land while ignoring the plights of the people,” says Paredes, who notes that remote communities face environmental degradation, economic hardship and insecurity due to armed conflict.

“In challenging the ‘status quo,’ we face many risks, but we draw courage and inspiration from each other and our common vision for environmental justice.”

The collective promotes agroforestry, organic farming and community seed saving. It also conducts intergenerational dialogues and training, community storytelling, environmental education, and ecopreneurship as platforms for cultural expression while also exploring sustainable livelihoods for the community.

For Paredes, the ultimate goal is laying the foundations of a just and sustainable future where we acknowledge and cherish the interdependence of human beings with each other and with the planet.