Philippine environmentalist Tony Oposa will give public lecture on Feb. 17

Lecture is part of the 2015 Inouye Distinguished Chair

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly A. Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Feb 3, 2015

Antonio A. Oposa, Jr.
Antonio A. Oposa, Jr.

(Link to video and sound:

(B-Roll and sound bite information below)

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa announced today the upcoming public lecture by award-winning Philippine environmentalist Antonio A. Oposa, Jr.  Oposa is currently the holder of the 2015 Daniel and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals.

Recognized as one of Asia’s leading voices in the arena of Environmental Law, Tony Oposa has fought to protect the Philippines’ natural patrimony. He has initiated landmark cases to protect the country’s remaining virgin tropical forests and to clean up Manila Bay.

Oposa’s first free public lecture will be on “Climate Justice for Future Generations,” and will take place on February 17 at 7 p.m., at the Keoni Auditorium, Imin Center, East-West Center. At least one additional lecture will take place on a Neighbor Island. Oposa will also be teaching a cross-listed seminar course at the Law School, and engaging directly with the community in various ways.

Oposa says that against seemingly impossible odds, and with hard work, extraordinary changes have occurred in the Philippines.  He cites one of his latest missions, the “road sharing” movement, which is already taking hold in selected cities where roads are being divided – with large vehicles using one half, and pedestrians, bicyclists, and small vehicles using the other half.

“I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences,” he said, “but I also want to listen to challenges facing communities in Hawai‘i.”

For his work, Oposa was awarded the Magsaysay Award in 2009, an honor some refer to as Asia’s Nobel Prize.  Dean of the William S. Richardson School of Law Avi Soifer remarked, “I cannot think of anyone better for the Dan and Maggie Inouye Chair than Tony Oposa. He is a rare combination of being charismatic, down-to-earth, and very wise. Tony’s tireless community work reflects the shared commitment of Dan and Maggie Inouye to act so as to create a more just future for those who will follow us.”

Oposa has organized and led some of the most daring enforcement operations against environmental criminals in the Philippines. He also founded SEA Camp, which has trained thousands of children, youths, government officials, fishermen, law enforcement officers, teachers, lawyers, and laymen in working principles for sustainable living. Oposa has taught Environmental Law at the University of the Philippines College of Law and at other top law schools, and he lectures around the world.

Law student Philip Tumbaga ’15 is taking Oposa’s class at the UH Law School and finds it electrifying. “This is a great opportunity to go from theory to focus on what’s really important,” says Tumbaga. “His class is really a call to action. His goal is to get us out there and making a difference. It’s so inspiring and encouraging.”

College of Arts & Humanities Dean Peter Arnade notes, “Tony Oposa is at the forefront of preserving today that which is most urgent in our fragile global landscape: the fight to preserve democratic and pluralistic public spaces that values citizenship and shared stewardship of our natural and built environment.”

Established in 2005 by the UH Board of Regents, the Daniel and Maggie Inouye Chair in Democratic Ideals brings distinguished public figures to Hawai‘i to foster public discourse regarding democratic ideals and civic engagement. The Chair is housed in the Law School and in the Department of American Studies in the College of Arts & Humanities. Recent Inouye Chairs have come on a more limited basis, but Oposa will be in Hawai’i throughout the spring semester in keeping with the original plan for the Inouye Chair.

A dynamic lecturer, Oposa strides the room, involving listeners in conversation, inspiring them to take action and, at the end of a class, leading them in song with a deep, commanding, well-trained singing voice.

Speaking about “the power of one,” Oposa tells students: “You have in your hands the power to change,” inspiring them first to change themselves in order to be the change that they seek. “The motto in this class,” he continues, “is the impossible we will do this afternoon…Miracles will have to wait until tomorrow.”


Video Shot Sheet (1 minute 33 seconds)

  • Classroom lecture by Oposa with cutaways of students and projection.
  • Class singing “What a Wonderful World.”
  • Still image of Dan and Maggie Inouye


Antonio Oposa, Jr. – 2015 Daniel and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals (12 seconds)

“It is not about monkeys. It is not about butterflies. It is about life on earth that is made possible by land, air and water. We destroy that there is no life. But we protect it, life will continue.”


Raven Sevillega – University of Hawaiʻi law school student (12 seconds)

“Hearing about his war stories were especially inspiring knowing that somebody without any money, who has lost almost all of the cases that he has talked about, has still managed to impact so many lives and saves the planet.”


Philip Tumbaga – University of Hawaiʻi law school student (9 seconds)

“I mean he has done so much and has accomplished so much. To have somebody like this, like here teaching us, personally, just a small group of students, it’s pretty amazing.”