Learning from Nature

The endless opportunity to learn from and be captivated by nature beckons one to gardening.

Have you taken the time to observe the black ants? They are always stepping forward, constantly on the go, searching for food to feed the queen and the growing brood in the colony. I wonder if they even take a moment to rest, until they expire. Humans can acquire the values of diligence and single-minded determination from them.


We also absorb the meaning of respect from God’s creations. Once, while pruning a plant, I did not realize I was invading the red ants’ habitat. A painful sting in my hands opened my eyes to my rather unwelcome infraction of their territory. The incident made me more mindful of their existence, my actions and of giving them the respect they deserve.  This is what the Constitution envisions after all:  that people would learn to live in harmony with nature.

I can also never forget the unique moments with a colorful butterfly that chose to land in front of where I was. She was close enough and stayed long enough for me to see her discharge her liquid wastes. Amazing.


She even allowed me the grand privilege of capturing the moment. So as not to shoo her away, I had to backtrack and walk very slowly to get the camera a few meters from where we were. Now, she is immortalized in the computer screen and in my memories, of course.

The magical moments might have lasted for 20 or so minutes, until it started to drizzle. It was time to take shelter. I gently touched her wings to make her fly, and thankfully, she did.

It was one of those encounters that left indelible imprint upon one’s being. Time stood still. There was understanding, peace and serenity and the realization that there are just so many things that we do not know about other living beings whom we co-exist. The experience made me firmer in my resolve to continue to peacefully surmount the challenges of environmental advocacy.

Our environmental laws were crafted to minimize human impacts on the environment and for stakeholders to have a mindset of conservation and stewardship for nature.  However, the biggest block to the implementation of our world-class conservation and anti-pollution laws, ironically, are the enforcers and the political authorities.

If LGUs and the national agencies will just follow the law, coordinate with each other and are sincere in engaging the public through a genuine consultation process in arriving at decisions, the pervading issues such as the flyovers, reclamation projects, coal power plant operations, mining and offshore oil drilling and their deleterious impacts to the community and the ecosystem, would have been addressed a long time ago.

The fly over controversy will never be resolved until the local development councils (LDC) in the barangays and cities/municipalities are activated, with the representative of the congressman or woman participating in the deliberations. It is after all the LDC which approves the investment plan, among others. But how many of the congressional representatives even bother to be a part of the LDC?

If only there is less of man-made structures that do not really work because the discipline of the citizens is still wanting and enforcement is sporadic.  Because no one takes responsibility for their maintenance, they have become the pitiful showcase of a society that does not know where to place the abandoned and the neglected.


“If only” — two words tinged with regret and sadness for opportunities lost, amid the climate, environment and financial crises shaking the world and demanding urgent actions.

If only the local elective officials made it a priority to consider the safety, comfort and convenience of the people and their rights to a quality of life that only a healthy and functioning life support system can provide.

If only there are mass transit system, foot paths and bike lanes that give options to the commuting public and their families and will do away with the fossil-fuel addiction and their polluting footprints.

If only there is less paved infrastructures that favor the” haves” than the “have-nots”, and have aggravated the now-unavoidable flooding problem.

If only there is long-term planning and programs for floodways, drainage and sewerage systems that would hopefully withstand the test of time and nature and – yes – political loyalties.

If only the basic services are not sacrificed for proprietary activities that hold no meaning and significance to the constituents, many of whom live below poverty level.

If only there are more tree-lined open spaces for kids to play and be connected to nature, that strengthen family ties, and comfort the weary.

If only there is less of reclamation projects that destroys precious corals, sea grass and mangroves ecosystems and benefit only a handful.

If only there are more socialized housing programs that give shelter to the homeless and give hope for a brighter tomorrow.

If only – local governments, members of Congress and national agencies get their act together, follow the participatory process of decision-making, and cater to the real needs of the citizens and the planet.

If only actions are made based on the vision of the people and not the short-term wants of the political patrons.

We are facing an ecosystem “in crisis”.  It is essential that we acknowledge that we brought this dire situation upon ourselves and our children. We have to unite and face the challenges.  Learning to be reconnected to and learning from nature might just be the step to bring us together. How? Ralph Waldo Emerson advised, “Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods. “

For the reformists in our midst, these words of wisdom from Emerson might be useful: “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

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TAGS: Ecosystem, environmental laws, gardening, Local Development Councils (LDC), Nature
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