by Sr Ofelia (Leah) De la Torre
They experience tropical weather and are part of the seismically active “Ring of Fire” and the typhoon belt. In an average year, we experience more than 24 typhoons. Some of them are really powerful, and most bring strong wind and heavy rain.
The context I live in is special, yet its environmental situation is relevant globally
On November 29, 2004 at the end of National Youth Day, we – local participants from some neighbouring parishes – were happily on our way home, when we were stopped at Ilavac, the first barangay (village) of Real. No vehicles could pass through, because of massive landslides in Real, Infanta and Nakar. We had no choice but to walk home, from one village to the next: about 30 kilometres. We walked through the Sierra Madre mountains with mud sometimes up to our hips and, in some areas we passed, there were still stones falling and brown water flowing down from above us. We were overwhelmed with fear and quite traumatized.
During this time, the house of Sion was one of the shelters in our village. There were more than sixty women, men and children staying with us. This experience deepened our awareness and knowledge of the force of nature. It also brought an awareness of how careless we are at times in our use of nature.
It is not too late yet. There is still time to rescue the only home we have: the one planet that sustains life.
I must acknowledge that my ministry in ecology is influenced by my community, my experience and my desire to contribute even to small actions of care and love to save our Mother Earth. Our community here in Real is very committed to strengthening awareness and being mindful of how our actions and habits affect the environment. We try to be sensitive and careful, and apply the 3 Rs – Reuse, Recycle and Refuse – in our daily life. For instance, we practise composting, we don’t burn any kind of garbage, and we opt for natural alternatives to household products whenever we can.
It is not too late yet
Beyond my local community, I sometimes give seminars about basic ecology with the members of KUMARE, a Non-Governmental Organisation that supports women in the Philippines. The seminars aim to sensitize people about the environment and share simple ways to practise the 3 Rs:
Reuse: for example, recycling the plastic/aluminum foil from food containers; washing them and reusing them again for transporting and storing fish or meat.
Recyle: for example, having a worm farm outside, to avoid using chemical fertilizers for vegetables and plants.
We are like a web: all are connected and part of Creation
Refuse non-recyclable products: for example, using eco bags instead of plastic bags, at the market.
I also join in initiatives organised in my district, such as coastal and riverside clean-up drives, and planting coastal mangroves to create bioshields that help reduce the impact of cyclonic storms, hurricanes and tsunamis on human lives and properties.
The context I live in is special, yet its environmental situation is relevant globally. We are like a web: all are connected and part of Creation. We have the power to save our only home, our Planet. Each of us will do well to take the time to experience, observe and notice Mother Earth, and listen out for our own call to respond.