Friday, August 23, 2013

The Death of Another Tree in Cebu

Just this summer,
I biked around with a group of cool folks,
pedaling towards sustainability...

In one of our rides,
we did a tour of the heritage sites,
and we visited the Caretta cemetery...
Where both the dead and the living co-exist in morbid harmony...
Both the dead and the living families
LIVE here in the cemetery...

There are also some interesting trees clinging on to their lives
on the stone walls of this cemetery...
these trees witnessed some really interesting events and burials,
thats why they are also part of the heritage of our city....

Here you will see some of my friends resting near one of these large trees ...

This tree sprang from the stone walls of the cemetery,
giving shade to the lapida makers,
giving oxygen to the residents,
absorbing the heat from all the cement and asphalt,
taking in all the carbon dioxide from the cars, buses and trucks exhaust,
holding the water underground during the many years of torrential rains,
and doing a lot more that we dont want to be bothered with...
like shedding its leaves to make the ground fertile,
dropping off its tiny branches so we can have some firewood...

The other day I was surprised to see this...

Some guy with an ax to grind with the living,
decided what gets to live,
and what gets to die...
Well, you know the fate of this tree...
to join the rest of the dead in this cemetery...
probably to give life to a concrete driveway,
to bow down to the cars
that will enter this high rise columbary,
where humans have arrogantly claimed
to be on the top of the hierarchy of the living,
only to realize that they will ultimately turn to dust...
Dust that should return to the ground
and not in some concrete vault,
where only those who can afford to pay the lease,
get to have a few inches of space.

So I grieve the loss of the spirit of this tree-
yes, this tree not only has life,
but is also the breather of life....
When will we ever realise
that we are nothing,
without trees...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Of buffets, obesity and world hunger

all you can eat...

traditionally practiced by the Chinese,
made popular in Las Vegas,
adapted by the Filipinos...

gives the impression of affluence,
abundance of resources,
unlimited  food supply...

people stuff themselves...
they say what is wrong with that,
they have the money,
they have the time,
they have the expandable waistlines...

i say,
buffets endanger our health,
buffets endanger our planet...

how can buffets endanger our health?
simple, unlimited food...
unlimited sweet, salty, fatty and fried food,
unlimited chances for the metabolic syndrome-
high blood glucose, high cholesterol,
high blood pressure, large waistline ....
the result- obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes,
stroke and kidney failure...

how can buffets endanger our planet?
simple, unlimited food...
unlimited meat, vegetables, fruits, grain, juices
mostly thrown away...
but to meet the demand and
to increase food production:
steroids, growth hormones, pesticides,
the result- denudation of forests as grazing land,
mono-cropping, destruction of mangroves,

most of all,
the disparity in access to food is scandalous,
while more than a billion of the world's population
die of malnutrition and hunger;
others are wastefully lulling at the buffet table,
binging on unhealthy food,
unknowingly killing the planet
and most of all,
killing themselves...

let's wake up,
the world is beset by so many complex problems,
but the solutions are embarrassingly simple...

one simple solution,
stop eating at buffets
save yourself,
save the planet...

Every year 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually (this is 1/3 of the world's food production). a  portion of the waste is coming from buffet meals.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Butchering of the Redemptorist Trees and Green Lung

Last July 29, 2011,
I wrote with so much joy, reverence and awe
of the Redemptorist Trees at the Cebu Redemptorist Parish Grounds
that make up, what I call-
the Redemptorist Urban Green Lung,
one of the few remaining in Cebu.

I often say to myself that-
Nature is my Religion and Earth is my Temple,
but every Sunday,
my mother who is a perpetually self-professed missionary
and chief church proselytizer  unfailingly prods us
to go to church---
so, in the hope of attaining world peace,
(they say peace begins at home)
I faithfully, but not blindly abide...

And so every Sunday, we go on a renewed quest
for a Catholic Church that can nourish our souls
and provide us with some sensible, relevant
and meaningful preaching of the Good News,
we often end up frustrated...

but just before we give up and surrender,
we always end up at the Redemptorist Church,
its a weekly compromise agreement-
as, in Cebu, and in my book of truth,
the Redemptorist Church
is the only one that comes closest to my motto-
Nature is my Religion,
and on Earth, the Redemptorist is my Temple,
at least the Trees on the Redemptorist Church Grounds
and when an occasionally awakened Redemptorist priest
shares how he has encountered the Divine
in creation- people, animals, trees...

This Sunday, Jan 27, 2013--
as I made my weekly pilgrimage to my Earthly Temple,
I was shocked to see the TREES that surround my Earthly Temple-
severed, butchered, maimed, and mutilated....
as if some mad-lunatic  run amok-
and went on a mindless, uncontrollable rampage of environmental destruction...

decades old acacia tree mindlessly pruned to protect a prayer room????

another tree in the back was mindlessly pruned

the trees by the rectory were not missed by the pruner

shadows of a green past, no more bird and wildlife habitat

they got tired of the fresh cool air the trees brought to their rooms

They call this trimming or pruning????
I am not a linguist nor an arborist....
So I looked up the definition of these words:
it means- to cut off dead parts 
or living branches of a tree,
to improve shape or growth-

if by improved shape-
they wanted the trees to look like skeletons 
and dead ghostly figures-
then the pruners and their mastermind have greatly succeeded....

despite my disappointment at the Cebu Redemptorist community
for allowing the butchering of these Trees,
I continue to have faith in Nature-
that it is resilient and regenerative
despite the ignorant acts of its stewards...

yes, Nature is My Religion,
and the Earth is still My Temple
i rest my case....

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Kapilla at Kamia, Escario, Cebu, Philippines

For those folks who grew up
in the Capitol Area,
We are all familiar with the
Kapilla at Kamia, Escario.

The area residents
often had novenas and prayers.
During fiestas,
they had a diskoral and baile
(fenced disco).

Kapillas serve many purposes-
it is a kind of community center,
where people converge
to pray, dance and grieve.

For those who cannot afford
a funeral parlor for the wake of a loved one,
there is always a Kapilla in every neighborhood.

Kapillas also show us-
vernacular architecture,
unique grill interpretations
of sacred art
and folk design.

These days, they are fast disappearing.
With city lots becoming very expensive,
many kapillas have been demolished
to make way for progress.

The latest kapilla to get axed
is the Kamia Kapilla.
In one of my walking photography adventures,
I unknowingly took a last shot
of a community structure.

It is sad, that so many of our memories
are being erased by so-called progress.
We seem to forget
that without our heritage
and cultural landmarks,
we are virtually erasing
our shared history as well.

May these photos remind you
of something from your childhood...

Kapok Seeds

In Search of Kapok...

While most people go window shopping,
our family goes seed hunting.
It's amazing how ignorant
we have become of the natural world.

Where do pillows come from?
When we were growing up,
pillows were stuffed with real cotton.
From the great Kapok tree.
You know its real
because you can feel the seeds.

Now kids have pillows
made out of synthetic cotton.
You buy it from the mall
and its made up of artificial materials
and fire retardants.

Imagine how much time
we all spend with our pillows.
Not only do we sleep on them,
we breathe on them.

In one of our seed hunting trips,
we found kapok fruits,
and kapok seeds....

Kapok ( Cotton Tree)
Ceiba pentandra is a tropical tree of the order Malvales and the family Malvaceae, 
native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America, and to tropical west Africa.Wikipedia