Undas tradition: 2 mom’s crusade vs trash at cemeteries
PARAÑAQUE CITY, Philippines — Used to be, Riza Borja would wake up before sunrise every eve of All Saints’ Day to visit her husband’s tomb. In the last two years, however, she rises up early on October 31 for a different reason.
Like Borja, Eleonor Bucad would wake up before sunrise every end of October although not necessarily to visit any tomb but because the two mothers would link up to join other volunteers to collect recyclable materials at the various burial grounds.
According to Borja, 47, she chose to celebrate life by pursuing her advocacy for the environment as a volunteer of the Taiwan-based Tzu Chi Foundation.
Clad in white pants, cap, and gray shirt and armed with cleaning materials, Borja patrolled the 100-hectare Manila Memorial Park in this city, together with other volunteers, to gather unsoiled boxes, papers, and PET bottles.
Unfazed by the stinging early morning sunshine, Borja said she does not mind about her eight-hour shift just to fulfill the foundation’s mission of “alleviating suffering and inspiring people in the country.”
It started as a casual invitation from a neighbor in San Mateo, Rizal, she said, but later on, it became her passion to help advance the organization’s cause.
“Kahit sa maliit na paraan makakatulong ako sa kapwa (Even in my own little way, I know that I am helping other people),” she said as she smiled shyly.
According to Borja, PET bottles they would collect from various cemeteries from October 31 would be shipped to Taiwan where it would be recycled into blankets and shirts. The cycle of advocacy continues, she noted, since the blankets and shirts will also be donated to victims of calamities.
As for Bucad, helping was her way of paying forward the help that Tzu Chi Foundation had extended to her family. Bucad said her son studied engineering and graduated recently because of the foundation.
“Pero kahit nakatapos na ‘yung anak ko, nagpapatuloy pa rin ako (But even if my son had already graduated, I still continue my volunteer work),” said Bucad, who has been a volunteer for seven years now.
The two mothers may have different stories but their advocacy for the environment and passion to give a helping hand make them one power team.
And as cemeteries started to become crowded with visitors ahead of All Saints’ and All Souls Day, Borja and Bucad reminded every Filipino to be mindful of their surroundings, stressing on each individual’s shared responsibility to care for the environment.
“To visitors, please segregate your trash so we can collect them properly,” Borja said in Filipino.
Bucad, meanwhile, advised visitors to bring their own trash bags and refrain from littering. /kga
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