Our modest share for creation

FOR US Filipinos, the month of September will forever be marred by memories of the declaration of martial law in 1972 and the violation of human rights that continued for the next years. We still suffer directly or indirectly the consequences of injustices that persist to this day, as peace continues to evade us and violence is wreaked on creation, depriving us even of our most basic human right to breathe pure air, drink clean water, eat safe food, and live in a danger-free environment.

Nevertheless, we have found consolation and strength as a nation in our faith. And as Catholics in particular, we have added recourse to the Blessed Mother Mary as our greatest intercessor to God, and whose birthday we celebrate also in the month of September. In a devotional prayer, we beseech her: “Queen of the Holy Rosary, by the glorious honor conferred upon you, help us to conserve the bounty and beauty of Mother Earth for all generations to come, and accompany us in our pilgrimage toward our heavenly inheritance.”

September is also the launching month of the Catholic Church for the Season of Creation, reinforcing Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si,” giving praise to God, and enjoining everyone to protect His creation toward promoting justice and peace in this world, and envisioning heaven ultimately.

As we strive to live our faith, Bangon Kalikasan Movement continues its focus on promoting ecological resource consciousness and action which start in the heart and in the home. Our home and our family—our never-ending project—vow to live simply, ecologically; to be helpful to and relate sincerely with others; and to eat selectively, choosing organically grown vegetables (some of which we pluck from our backyard), fruits, cereals, legumes supplemented with fish (from the sea or fresh waters) and some meat and chicken from organically raised hogs and poultry.

We try to make the most of our resources by enjoying and being grateful for each moment, by learning from history, and by devoting our present to worthy pursuits, big or small, as we hope to bequeath a livable place for our children, theirs, and so on. We are saving up for solar energy, and we see to it that we purchase, reasonably, environment-friendly material goods to help prevent waste.

It all sounds so good, but the doing is not that easy, though the reward is in our constant trying. Proof of our far-from-perfect, environmentally-oriented lifestyle is our continuing generation of excess resources, better known as discards, so we have to segregate the biodegradable waste from the nonbiodegradable. We compost the biodegradable; we reuse or sort into different sacks the recyclables, which we donate to Goodwill Industries, a group of disabled individuals who work together to collect such used treasures from households and establishments and turn these into income.

As we do not give to the garbage truck, we have also demonstrated that it is possible not to have dumpsites or landfills—with the cooperation, for example, of Barangay Tuktukan, Guiguinto, and Calumpit, Bulacan, that have partnered with us since 2003. Refining of the practice continues with much effort, but in sustaining it, we affirm that we can manage our excess resources right in our home and in our barangay.

The compost we produce in our yard and some learned knowledge on ecological farming have reached farmers’ fields. Even after Tropical Storm “Ondoy” and Typhoon “Pepeng,” Valentin and Lilia Hernandez of Barangay Malamig, Bustos, Bulacan, rejoiced as they harvested 133 cavans of good palay from their modest 1.2 hectares of land, while their neighbors mourned again, as always, after a disastrous climate event, the loss of their crops.

Bamboo is our favorite bet for environmental protection, to beat the global heat and ward off the impacts of climate change. The humble grass multiplies as it grows. Rows upon rows of bamboo clumps become a fortress for vulnerable communities against hostile weather. Bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide, releases more oxygen, and grows faster than trees. It also holds much water and prevents the soil from eroding and riverbanks from breaking.

As the poor countries like the Philippines are the most affected by global warming and climate change, and particularly the poor in this country, bamboo is a good answer to address the basic and essential needs of our people for food and livelihood. It is a good source for food, clothing, household and other implements, musical instruments, furniture, and shelter from the simplest bahay kubo to impressive buildings, as well as for parts of land and sea vehicles, and many more. Bamboo will continue to grow even as one takes what one needs from the clump—judiciously, of course.

In this Season of Creation, one recalls the split bamboo from which the first woman and man in Philippine folklore, Maganda and Malakas, emerged. Indeed, we can be as beautiful and strong as our nation must have been so destined.

Ana Celia Ver-Papa is cofounder of Bangon Kalikasan Movement Inc.