Emmanuel Maria Calonzo
Emmanuel Maria Calonzo is one of two international co- coordinators for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alter- natives. He is also Co-Coordinator of the Southeast Asia Hub of the International POPs Elimination Network, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, and serves in various capacities for other organizations such as Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Ban Toxics and Health Care without Harm. He received the Banaag Presidential award for PSG from the Office of the President of the Philippines in 1996, and was nominated in the Bagong Bayani Awards in 2000 for Outstanding Filipinos abroad for his work with migrant workers.
Emmanuel Maria Calonzo or Kuya Manny or is an exemplary person and is a source of strength and inspiration to many of his colleagues in his professional and personal life. He was a student leader in his younger days during the Martial Law years, and has never stopped since then in fighting for just causes.
He quietly works every day to promote environmental justice in the Philippines, and without fan- fare, helps communities to uphold their rights to a clean, toxic-free environment and future.
He is able to work with personalities and organizations from a broad range of background: from church-based organizations to political parties to grassroots-based groups. He has led steadfast to his belief that change is possible. It is actually a source of wonder for many of his colleagues where he gets his optimism and energy, especially during difficult stages of campaigns.
Manny has been instrumental in hastening the closure of the Cabuyao dumpsite in Laguna that threatened the health of nearby communities of relocated urban poor from various areas in Metro Manila. Upon hearing of the stench, dirty water and rodents that residents faced everyday because of living so close to a dumpsite, Manny immediately organized trips to the area and started a suc- cessful media campaign that ultimately caused the visit of VP Noli de Castro to the relocation site. After the closure of the dumpsite, he organized livelihood trainings for community leaders and women in the area.
According to one colleague, people know that no matter how busy he is, Manny finds time to either personally see a project through, or to ensure that under his guidance, a campaign or project sees its end successfully.
Manny Calonzo has traveled to more than 50 countries. He is always invited to speak about Zero Waste and incineration issues because of his ability to calmly but firmly impart important statements and messages to many people, including government leaders of other countries. Through his international, regional and national involvement in the fight for environmental justice, he has earned the respect and recognition of his peers. His colleagues agree that he contributes significantly to ensuring that environment protection and the public’s right to health and safety are upheld.
The GAIA organization has benefited so much from his leadership. He has helped in ensuring the sustainability of GAIA’s members’ campaign by tirelessly looking for new opportunities for financial support. He also often says that one of the most important things in working for a coalition is to make sure that people stay connected and feel cared for He is always one of the first people to acknowledge an achievement or to inquire about the safety and well being of colleagues in other parts of the world during times of calamines, civil unrest and disasters Community leaders book to him for advice about technical and strategic matters, and feel much more empowered to speak in conferences and to government officials, especially those who hold technical responsibilities, when he is present.