Earth loversBy Sofia Logarta
Cebu Daily News
Among the Cebuana Trailblazers of the Cebu Provincial Women’s Commission and LAW Center’s Heritage Cards there are women who have dedicated themselves to the care of Mother Earth.
Most of us are familiar with Socorro Borromeo Atega, the “leading force Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water (CUSW)”. She was appointed to the Central Cebu Protected Landscape Protected Area Management Board. This is a great responsibility for it involves 29,000 hectares and three watersheds. But “Bajing” faces all these with enthusiasm, creativity, and serenity.
We also have Elisea Gillera Gozon, the first female secretary of the Department of Energy and Natural Resources. The card on her declares that her “unflagging honesty and personal integrity” won for her the trust of “business leaders, NGOs, and political decision makers”. She worked at “upgrading the quality and capacity of landfills; this attracted international funding, generated nationwide support, and encouraged community participation”.
The late Ma. Salome E. del Rosario as an undergraduate student earned international recognition for her discovery of “cadang-cadang” a disease of coconuts. As a professor she was an “expert in pest management of citrus abaca, banana, African palm, and mangoes. Upon retirement, she “dedicated her last remaining years to the study and preservation of Cebu’s endemic and endangered plants. She cultivated and grew these plants on a patch of land which she called “Noah’s Garden” and single-handedly directed attention on the values of Cebu’s native plants which faced extinction due to urban development.”
Martina “Beling” Go Ching Hai with a group of women who were concerned with the environment and the community as a whole organized FORWARD – Federated Organization of Women in Active and Responsive Development. Their many “Save Mother Earth Activities” earned the recognition of the president, Rotary Club of Cebu and Japan, and the Metropolitan Cebu Water District. “With Ma’m Beling’s involvement, FORWARD annually (since 2001) leads the Cebu Community in the International Clean Up the World Campaign in this part of the country.”
Searching the Web for female earth lovers elsewhere, I was reminded of Wangari Maathai, the “first environmentalist and first African woman to win to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She rallied women to plant trees (more than 45 million in Africa, America, and elsewhere), thus creating jobs for the poor, fighting deforestation and erosion, and creating lots of nice oxygen for all of us.”
Mothers also creatively responded to the challenge of caring for Mother Earth in their own homes. Debbie Zinman of Toronto transformed the usual children’s birthday party into an activity wherein children gave donations for Mother Earth. “They called it ECHOage to represent kids shouting to the world that they are making a difference on their birthday.”
Tonya Ensign of Scottsdale, Arizona started “ecoparties”. Here there is ecological awareness and suggestions for the actual steps to take. She reflected: “The best part about the parties is seeing women’s faces when they realize how simple changes can make a big difference to our planet.”
My favorite earth lover is Mary Rose Villacastin-Maghuyop of Cebu City. During her wedding, her give-away was an embroidered cloth (hence re-usable) green handkerchief. During the ruby wedding anniversary of her parents-in-law, the family prepared creatively sewn cloth shopping bags for guests to bring home.
Mary Rose instituted green practices not only at home but also in school, Our Lady of Joy. They are particular about water conservation, making sure that less is used and whenever possible there is re-use. They re-use all other materials, especially paper. Among the pupils they organized Earth Explorers who monitor and manage garbage. They are working on a garden which will have edible produce. Since they have earth-friendly staff, they have plans for promoting organic farming among the barangays folk.
Caring for Mother Earth is not only important but a great necessity.
Loving the Earth in mind, heart, soul—with our whole being is a solid foundation for safe and secure communities.