WE Day: beating the scourge | Inquirer Opinion
Human Face

WE Day: beating the scourge

In case you didn’t know, the United-Nations-initiated World Environment Day is on June 5, with India playing the host this year. It is trumpeting the theme “Beat plastic pollution” with the aim of combating the single-use plastic scourge.

Here’s the host driving home the point: “In the time it takes [Indian international cricket player] Hardik Pandya to bowl an over in a cricket match, four garbage trucks worth of plastics get dumped into the ocean.”


Someone should translate that using basketball jargon for our basketball-crazy nation.

Last week I wrote about Manila Bay as an unflushed toilet bowl, as described at a Senate hearing by lawyer and environmental activist Antonio Oposa Jr. This horrible situation was further stressed by the Inquirer’s editorial last Sunday (“Manila Bay in death throes”).


But it is not only human and animal excreta that have befouled this body of water that showcases one of the most beautiful sunsets this side of Planet Earth, this historical gateway into the heart of the so-called Pearl of the Orient. Plastics, too, have clogged the toilet bowl.

So there — some thoughts to haunt us in the run-up to WE Day.

But there are other happenings worth celebrating. Out recently is the third volume of “Philippine Native Trees: Up Close and Personal 303,” midwifed by Imelda Sarmiento (project coordinator) and which she coedited with botanist Edwino S. Fernando, Marietta R. Marciano, Angelina P. Galang, Gloria M. Angara and Leonor G. Berroya. It was published by Green Convergence. The Forest Foundation of the Philippines helped make it happen.

This 516-page (it’s thick and heavy) third volume and its two predecessors (all sold out) are treasure troves not only for botanists and tree lovers but for every Filipino who meets trees every day, takes shelter under them, finds healing through them, eats their fruits and smells their flowers, uses their wood for everyday living, plants them to enliven and preserve their surroundings, etc.

As Sarmiento wrote: “Here we are with our third edition of the book borne of a crazy idea that these complex creations that are our native trees could be understood by pedestrians, and the even crazier idea that pedestrians could write interesting pieces about them.” That explains the “up close and personal” in the title.

Her oft-repeated refrain: “The trees you might know are not ours; the trees you do not know are ours (native).”

In all, 366 (of the 3,600 known) native trees have been featured in the three volumes, written by writers who love trees and study trees. Just as important as the essays are the scientific and native names and descriptions, their uses and other data, the colored photographs (of whole trees as well as close-ups of their amazing fruits, seeds, bark and flowers).


What a rich, green encyclopedic wilderness! Interested? Call 0905-6666117, 899-0675 (Green Convergence).

Another offering to celebrate: The Loyola School of Theology of the Ateneo de Manila University is offering a Certificate Program in Integral Ecology. It is an answer to Pope Francis’ call for “ecological conversion” and hopes to address urgent environmental issues and explores alternative perspectives and lines of action. It follows the insights of “Laudato Si,” the Pope’s encyclical on the environment, and “uses the lenses of Biblical Theology, Systematic Theology, Moral Theology and Interreligious Spirituality to reflect on the political, cultural, economic and scientific aspects of the damage we have inflicted on our common home.”

Integral Ecology can be completed in five months, from August to December 2018. Impressive faculty. Students attend three afternoon classes a week, participate in one online course, and join three field trips. For their final course requirement, students shall be guided in crafting pastoral projects relevant to their local churches, schools and communities. Integral Ecology is designed for religious, seminarians, and faith-based workers, including teachers and catechists, as well as environmental activists, who wish to take very seriously Pope Francis’ words on heeding “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

For inquiries, contact Sacred Springs: Dialogue Institute of Spirituality and Sustainability, Room 305, Loyola School of Theology, Admu, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Or call 426-6430 to 35 local 3624.

Send feedback to [email protected]

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TAGS: Human Face, Imelda Sarmiento, Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Philippine Native Trees, plastic pollution, World Environment Day
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