Being green

Being green means committing to a lifestyle  that has limited impact on our vanishing resources and life’s elements in an already degraded planet Earth.  For a growing number, especially the Generation Y, there is heightened awareness of the need to do our share in protecting the environment.

More have chosen to walk or bike than commute, segregate, reduce  or avoid wastes, shift to a plastic-free life, live in green designed homes, and help enhance the biodiversity-bereft and polluted landscape by growing  trees , plants and vegetables.


There are also  sustainability champs from the public sector at the national and local level, but their numbers are pitiful. The stark reality is this: As far as many wannabes for elective posts are concerned, being green is still not in. Judging from the dismaying proliferation of illegal campaign materials posted on long-suffering trees, utility posts and walls and lack of discourse on the environment, we still have a long way to go to mainstream environmental concerns.

The candidates are not even bothered that their faces in the walls of shame speak a lot of their lack of concern for life’s elements, or that citizens have uploaded their illegal materials in Facebook’s Cebu Anti-Epal  or even  filed complaints for the clear disregard of our laws with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).  What matters most is their winning the coveted post, above anything else. The “self” is most important and the community, country and the planet will just have to wait.


The culture of impunity happens because institutions and public servants tasked to enforce our election and environmental laws are painfully reticent in doing their work. Best for this kind of people to opt for early retirement, where they do not have to perennially walk on tiptoe for  fear of catching the ire of the politicos.

Environmental groups composed of Greenpeace, EcoWaste Coalition, and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) are likewise disappointed. A survey conducted by them  for the Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) 2013 resulted in a very poor response rate from senatorial candidates. Out of the 33 senatorial candidates, only six—or a measly 18 percent—replied to the survey. Those who sent in their responses to the GEI questionnaire included Samson Alcantara, Sonny Angara, Teddy Casiño, Bal Falcone, Risa Hontiveros and Cynthia Villar.

The GEI questionnaire lined up the 10-point legislative agenda and sought out the views and plans of senatorial candidates to address today’s most pressing environmental issues including chemical pollution and consumer safety, solid waste, sustainable agriculture and genetically modified crops, climate change adaptation, energy, oceans and mining.

Von Hernandez, executive director of  Greenpeace Southeast Asia said, “We appreciate the efforts of these candidates who took the time to study the issues and respond to the survey despite their busy campaign schedules. It provides us a good indication of their agenda for the environment if they are elected as legislators, and equally important, where they stand on the critical environmental issues of our times. However,  the dismal overall response rate to the survey is itself lamentable. This does not reflect well on the priorities of the country’s aspiring leaders.”

Don’t you think it is a tad risky to have  leaders who have no idea of the ecological threats and pressures we are subjected to, what climate change is, that atmospheric carbon dioxide has reached 400 parts per million, and the absolute necessity to build the resilience of people and the fragile ecosystems to the impacts of climate change?

We salute  the candidates who live their values and principles, prioritize the environment and the people and bow to the Rule of Law. With limited resources, they conduct their campaign within the legal and planetary limitations in mind. They prioritize the environment in their platform for governance and walk the talk as they  are careful to use only  ecologically friendly materials, avoid those that harm the environment and the inhabitants, and their faces are not  brazenly displayed in the dirty electoral landscape. Let us make sure that their tribe increase.

But, first, let us be the change and an active advocate at that. Next to being a mother, helping work on greening the hearts and minds of citizens is the second most challenging and fulfilling mission one could hope to undertake  in our badly ravaged home planet.


* * *

Happy Mother’s Day to the world’s mothers, including the surrogate ones, irrespective of gender. We deserve a pat on the back for daring to take on one of the most arduous tasks and responsibilities given to species like ours in the animal kingdom.

Young mommas, savor both the joyous and  the most trying moments with your kids,  as time flies rather quickly. Value the passion, perseverance, patience and perpetual balancing act that perhaps only a mother could ably muster.  Each child is unique and we are the first to recognize that.

Those already in the golden years of their lives pine for the time when  they  were the  center of their kids’ universe and, in their eyes, could never do anything wrong.  Then, the children grew up and realized that mom and dad are prone to frailties of being human and deserve understanding as well.

Parents are certainly not immune from making mistakes, as there is no formal course on parenthood. We are each a product of our childhood and environment and not all are happy ones. But, hopefully, parents try their best to learn from experience, be better, and  help create an atmosphere for the children to be great learners as well.

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