WebClick Tracer

A SOJOURNER’S VIEW: The Everyday Lamentations of Mother Earth


CEBU CITY (MindaNews / 22 April) — Have you ever paused at some moment and listened to the lamentations of Mother Earth? The sad whisper of the wind as it loses its coolness with the sweltering heat here in the tropics especially during summer? 

And the parched earth crying out for rain that sadly seems to abandon the usual seasons when heaven’s tears are badly needed to make the rice grow.  And yet when winds and rains reach howling proportions owing to what has happened to the earth’s climate, Mother Earth’s children can just vanish from the face of the earth?

All of creation today join in this tragic chorus lamenting the utter destruction of their habitat, from the polar bears in the North Pole who have lost their icebergs to the Philippine Eagles who have lost their forests. Can you still hear birds twittering in the trees of our backyard or have they all gone to the moon? And are those trees able to offer the much needed canopy under which the children can still play outdoors?

Or have you been so busy eking out a livelihood, pleasing your boss, taking care of your family members, dealing with the repercussions of the runaway inflation or dealing with mental or physical health issues, that you consider it a luxury to deal with environmental issues? Or you would rather the United Nations, the governments, the oil and mining companies and the big institutions worry and do something about this gargantuan challenge of dealing with climate change?

I have bad news for you dear reader if you would rather bury your head in the sand and refuse to get engaged in environmental advocacy, no matter if you consider what you can do as just a drop in the bucket!  For as everyone knows now, Mother Earth’s health condition has so deteriorated that if we – all of us whether we hold a miniscule or huge amount of resources – do not act to halt the downward spiral of the earth’s destruction, we are bound to face a dystopian future where life on this planet will become intolerable!

Lucky for us human beings that way back in January 1969, an environmental activist named Denis Hayes and Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin teamed up to shake people’s indifference to what was happening to Mother Earth. Each in his own way listened to Mother Earth’s lamentations – especially in the wake of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara –  and instead of ignoring what they saw was a worsening problem, they acted and the rest is history.

They knew that what was needed was to widen the public sphere that would deal with ecology and establish a civil society that would bring more awareness to the environmental issues. They began organizing teach-ins in colleges across the US and soon enough more young people go to know more about the impact of pollution on air, water and the rest of the environment. In just a short period of time, they had reached millions and inspired them to be engaged in ecological advocacy through an office that had close to a hundred staff members.

This then encouraged Senator Nelson to propose an Earth Day and the first took place on April 22, 1970. More than fifty years later, Earth Day every year has mobilized the support of political parties, civil society organizations, academic institutions, media and people of every age, race, gender demographic and educational status. The movement spread globally, and by 1990, more than 200M people in 141 countries were highlighting environmental issues worldwide on Earth Day. EarthDay.org states what this day is all about: “Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national and local policy changes.”

Unfortunately, in a country like ours, our efforts at advancing the ecological movement have not been sustained in a manner that it creates the needed impact. Even as every year we face the consequences of climate change with our typhoons and floods, droughts and landslides, our walk has oftentimes failed to live up to our talk. From the national environmental agencies to the local government units, policies have been crafted, laws have been passed, government bureaucrats have attended environmental conferences like the COP (the one recently in Egypt) and loans have been secured for studies on how to flood control measures can be put in place. 

But if our efforts are to be weighed, quoting the Bible, we end up with this saying: “Tinimbang ka, nguni’t kulang!” Yes, we can say the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! Take Davao City as a good example of how City Hall is responding to the urgent ecological issues. Owing to the strong lobbying of civil society organizations like IDIS, there have been ordinances passed to protect the watershed, to limit the cutting of the remaining trees, to curb the use of plastics and to look into the problem of garbage.

This is the case where the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. On one hand,  City Hall passes these ordinances but then the citizens wake up one day and a contrary project has been approved. There are a few good examples: to deal with the problem of garbage, City Hall applies for billions of pesos to build an incinerator which is actually a pollutant and will impact the health of the communities surrounding the site of this project; to ease traffic between the mainland and Samal Island a bridge is to be constructed and to hell with what happens to the pristine coral reefs which is the best reason to promote tourism to the island; there is a watershed code but they cannot stop the continuing logging in these areas.

People, wake up. Mother Earth’s destruction is sooner than you think. Listen to the voices of scientists who have gotten tired warning the whole of humanity to get our act together! Is anyone listening apart from the ecological activists whose numbers don’t seem to increase exponentially?  The challenge for us today is to embrace the opportunity to encourage a sustainable future.

Do something today and gather your family members, friends, co-workers and others that you can mobilize to do something today.  Do not let this Earth Day pass as if you don’t care where our planet is moving towards. Listen to Mother Earth’s lamentations and do something – no matter how modest its results will be – to alleviate our mother’s suffering.

You can take this challenge into your hands and do any of the following:

  • Update yourself on the impact of the continuing use of fossil fuels and read more about the consequences of a worsening climate change. There are tons of documents out there for you to goggle in the computer, and films and videos to watch in Netflix and other livestreaming platforms.
  • If there is a mobilization in front of City Hall, join and carry a placard.
  • Continue advocating for the non-usage of an incinerator, a change in the design of the Samal bridge to protect the coral reefs, monitor what’s happening to the watersheds of the city and lobby City Hall to implement watershed ordinances.
  • Find a nearby mini-forest and walk down the canopy of the trees and experience what it is to commune with nature. Join a group who ask for volunteers to grow more trees in the watershed areas.
  • Refrain from using plastic of any kind when shopping, when buying products and when packing food.
  • If you are a teacher, get the students to talk about Earth Day and before they go home, ask them to show their concern through making art or reminding their parents to stop smoking and to stop buying junk!
  • Clean up your surroundings and make sure not to burn the garbage but recycle them. If there are neighborhood or purok clean-ups, join. 
  • When you sing a lullaby to get your child to sleep, sing Asin’s Kapaligiran song.

And make a resolution that on Earth Day 2024, you will do much more than what you are going to do today. And in-between Earth Day 2023 and 2024 – every day, if it is possible, commit yourself to comfort Mother Earth by simple acts to alleviate her lamentations!

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar is Mindanao’s most prolific book author. Gaspar is also a Datu Bago 2018 awardee, the highest honor the Davao City government bestows on its constituents. He is now based in Cebu City). 

Your perspective matters! Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We welcome diverse viewpoints and encourage respectful discussions. Don't hesitate to share your ideas or engage with others.

Search MindaNews

Share this MindaNews story
Send us Feedback