SMC launches PHL’s first complete biodiversity offset Site in Bulacan

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga addresses the attendees who include San Miguel Aerocity Inc (SMAI) Project Director Cecile L. Ang and Dutch Ambassador Marielle Geraedts during the launch of Saribuhay sa Dampalit project of SMAI in Barangay Pamarawan, Malolos, Bulacan last Friday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO 
San Miguel Aerocity, Inc. (SMAI), a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), has inaugurated its Saribuhay sa Dampalit project in Barangay Pamarawan, Malolos, Bulacan.
This pioneering initiative marks the launch of the Philippines’ first Biodiversity Offset Program (BOP)  — part of the company’s nature-based solutions to building its New Manila International Airport project (NMAI) in Bulacan. It aims to balance development efforts with environmental preservation, support local livelihoods and address flooding issues in Bulacan’s flood-prone areas.
The pilot BOP site in Pamarawan covers 40 hectares with plans to expand to 800 hectares of offset sites across various areas. 
The launch event was attended by Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga,  Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna, Undersecretary Augusto dela Pena, Undersecretary Ignatius Rodriguez, Dutch Ambassador Marielle Geraedts, and representatives from SMAI.
“The Saribuhay sa Dampalit project is an integrative approach to development that respects and enhances the natural environment alongside our infrastructure objectives. We firmly believe that progress and nature can co-exist, benefiting both the ecosystem and the local community. We thank everyone involved – from our partners in government, environmental groups and local community members for helping make this possible ,” said SMC President and CEO Ramon S. Ang.
Adhering to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) environment and social standards, the project has provided a rich feeding ground to the visiting migratory birds which has been in record number this time. Proof that the Offset Site constructed by SMAI has successfully provided sufficient food for the shorebirds.
Secretary Yulo-Loyzaga noted that this was the first and the largest scale biodiversity offset project in the country. 
She stressed the importance of embracing the mitigation hierarchy for net positive infrastructure development, highlighting its importance in building inclusive and resilient communities while protecting biodiversity for future generations.
SMAI’s efforts include a range of scientifically grounded measures to ensure the newly created habitats meet the specific needs of the wildlife they aim to protect. More importantly, the BOP project has engaged local residents affected by the NMIA project, providing employment and raising awareness about the importance of preserving migratory shorebirds.
SMAI Project Director Cecile L. Ang said, “By involving local residents in our efforts, we’re not just building infrastructure, we are cultivating a community that values and actively contributes to environmental preservation.”
Alejandra Libao, relocated from the airport project site and currently serving as team leader in the offset site, shared how the program has transformed their outlook in life.  “Dapat pala ‘yung mga ibon,minamahal namin. Ngayon nalaman namin na may mga migratory bird pala, dati ‘kala namin tagak- tagak lang iyan. ‘Yung community ho nagkaroon ng hanapbuhay tapos minahal na rin nila ‘yung mga ibon. Hindi namin akalain na meron palang nag-aalaga ng ibon. Akala namin binubugaw lang namin ‘yan.” 
Ang is optimistic that the project will extend beyond wildlife protection, potentially turning the area into a prime location for bird-watching, boosting tourism, and creating even more opportunities for local communities.