Meet Forester Ronita America Unlayao, the first female Assistant Regional Director for Management Services (ARDMS) at DENR CALABARZON. Unlayao's illustrious career in government service commenced in 1982 at the Bureau of Forest Development Region IV, now DENR CALABARZON, where she began as a Forester.  She ascended through various key positions such as Senior Forester, Forest Management Specialist II, Senior Forest Management Specialist, Supervising Forest Management Specialist, Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO), Planning Officer V, and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) at DENR CALABARZON.  In her time as a public servant, she was awarded with a certificate of appreciation for her exemplary performance and contribution to the success of the Integrated Social Forestry (ISF) Program Implementation.

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In 2007, For. Unlayao was designated as the Regional Planning Officer. While she was appointed as the CENRO of Lipa City in 2015, she still took charge of the Planning and Management Division where she continuously sought the improvement of DENR CALABARZON. She was steadfast in proposing for DENR Office building in all field offices as well as the DENR CALABARZON office building. In 2019, the DENR CALABARZON office building was inaugurated.

A noteworthy accomplishment in 2016 was her attendance to the Training on Philippine Environmental Governance, a collaborative program between DENR and the University of the Philippines, where she ranked 3rd among the program graduates.

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Through her dedication and hardwork, she rose through the ranks and was appointed as a Provincial Environment and Natural Resources (PENR) Officer in 2018 and was assigned as to lead the province of Cavite for three years. Under her leadership, PENRO Cavite garnered national recognition under the Environmental Awards for Governance and Leadership Excellence (EAGLE) for being one of the top 3 for the Implementing PENRO Category. In 2021, she was then designated as the OIC ARDMS of DENR CALABARZON and at the same time Chair of the Gender and Development Focal Point System of the Region.

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During her stint as OIC ARDMS, she steadfastly upheld a commitment to equality, spearheading initiatives across diverse environmental programs. Her advocacy for equal opportunities extended to the enhanced National Greening Program (eNGP), Forest Protection, Biodiversity Friendly Enterprise (BDFE), Protected Area Development and Management, Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Management Program (CMEMP), and Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program. In these realms, numerous individuals, especially women, found employment, and People’s Organizations experienced empowerment.

In addition to her environmental endeavors, she took the lead in various Gender and Development (GAD) efforts. Noteworthy initiatives included orchestrating the Juanapbuhay Bazaar, hosting Women’s Hour with a series of fora on Entrepreneurship, Wealth and Estate Planning, overseeing the installation of lactation/breastfeeding stations in Regional and Field Offices, conducting Gender Sensitivity Trainings, and providing continuous support to the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women. Her multifaceted approach exemplified a holistic commitment to fostering inclusivity and gender equity within the environmental landscape.

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Unlayao, a Cum Laude graduate in Forestry, holds a Master's Degree from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. With accolades such as being a Management Aptitude Test Battery Passer and passing the Forestry Licensure Examination and Career Service Professional exam, she has proven her excellence in her field.

Born on April 7, 1960, in Infanta, Quezon, Unlayao is not just a distinguished professional but also a devoted leader and family woman, married to Gerardo Unlayao and blessed with four children. Her more than 40 years of service for the people and the environment is a testament to hard work, dedication, and the transformative impact one woman can have in breaking barriers and making a lasting mark in environmental leadership.###