I am a frequent bus rider. I use this mode of transportation at least five times a week. I am lucky if I chance upon an airconditioned bus. Most of the time I am left to no other choice but board a non-aircon bus, more popularly known as “ordinary,” here in the Philippines.

The traffic is excruciating. About half of the time spent in the whole bus ride is due to traffic. Sometimes, I doze off during the trip only to discover upon waking up that the bus has been snailing by. Also, the particulate matter emitted from other vehicles travels through my trachea into my lungs, lodging there forever (Read about ‘You are what you breathe‘ in this blog). Traffic contributes to the deterioration of our air. Another pervasive problem is that drivers do not have proper driving skills and they tend to idle in one area for more than 10 minutes while waiting for passengers.

Cognizant of all the disadvantages of this current transportation system, the bus rapid transit was introduced and its feasibility was studied.

When I was still working with the Energy and Clean Air Project (ECAP) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), I had the opportunity to be exposed in talks on the plan to promote BRT as a sustainable transport option in the Philippine capital. Of course, it is not an easy task as public utility drivers are sure to disapprove of it seeing it as a move that will only threaten their livelihood. But the BRT has illustrated benefits. See the Mexico success story in this video:

I can no longer wait to board on a bus, reach home early and have more time to hug my husband and little boy.

dad-vito

sunrise

Sunrise

This is a picture of a ricefield in Laguna, Philippines. I took this shot at the beginning of the new year [literally]. I chose this photo for today’s entry to symbolize my vision for the future generations.

Just like in any special occasion, people always ask you what your wish is. This Earth Day, a day just as special as other days, I will loudly announce my wish and that is “for future generations to see more of this kind of sunrise in the decades to come.”

At the rate people are exploiting the resources today, I am unsure that the sunrise in the coming years will still be as clear like in the photo or will it be covered by smog?

If people continue to live without regard for the environment, maybe the next generations will no longer bear witness to the beauty of nature, the music of the vibrant animals, the bountiness of vegetation, the steady drops of rain water, the mild heat of the sun and soft cool breeze caressing their faces.

The sunrise stands for hope. Hope that our children will be wiser than us. That they relinquish their irresponsible stewardship of the earth and treat nature as their brother.

I dream of a world where there is clean air, nourishing water, fertile soil, gentle climate and harmonious living. I dream that dream for my bundle of joy:

vito-playing-at-garden

I love you, Vito!

Earth Day 2007 is just a few days away. A lot of activities are going to happen on that day in several nations across the globe. However, there is one big question in my head, “what is Earth Day for?”

As I try to answer the question myself, I think that Earth Day is for kids, for the future generations, especially those who are underprivileged. Allow me to share with you the program that I conceptualized in 2004.

It’s called Adopt-a-Kid for the Environment, an environmental education campaign for streetchildren/sampaguita vendors in UPLB. The environment education program was constructed in an interactive way, through games and fun activities. That project earned me the Bayer Young Environmental Envoy 2004 award, which gave me the opportunity to go on an environmental field trip in Germany.

I successfully implemented it in February 2005. It has been sustained by my organization after I graduated from the university.

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Adopt-a-Kid for the Environment

By building a culture of environmentalism among young people, environmental efforts become more sustainable and long-term. “It’s time we hear their little voices.”

angel-byee-with-kids


The first game was Riddle Me where the kids were taught about endemic and endangered species. The next game was Shoot that trash where they put all the wastes in the venue in a trash bin in the fastest time possible. The last game was Take me to My Home where they were taught about ecosystems, habitats, and species living in them. And of course, the kids had free lunch and snacks during the whole activity. Each kid wore a sash bearing the name of his environmental parent in the duration of the activity. The activity was very touching because the kids saw a beautiful part of the world that they thought never existed. Because of their difficult lives, working at a very young age, a part of their childhood has already been robbed from them. But when they saw how beautiful the Earth is, they were inspired to take care of it. Angela ended the activity by telling them to take care of their environment because if they do not, the beautiful part that’s left of OUR Earth may soon be gone.aak2.jpg
These were the environmental parents: Pi Rho Sorority, Upsilon Sigma Phi Fraternity, UP SCINTILLA JVRIS FRATERNITY, UP ASTRVM SCIENTIS SORORITY, Animal Science Society, UP Venerable Knight Veterinarians, UPLB Society of Chemical Engineering Students, UP PRISM, Philippine Association of Food Technologists β-Chapter, UPLB Jocks, GOTOelbi, Mr. Jerry Galang, Nesse Uriarte, Dr. Sixto Ver Valencia, Ch.E., Dr. Catalino G. Alfafara, Ch.E., Janett Dolor, Dr. Maria Theresa H. Velasco, Engr. Lincoln A. Abad.

Each time I see them in the university, I always ask them who their environmental parent was. And it’s so amazing because they always give me the correct answer. When I ask them, “Why do you remember it well?” They reply, “Because they have made us see a very beautiful part of life. Before, we pitied ourselves because we’re poor but when we saw what you made us see, we realized that life is still beautiful.”

I remember Yangtze River from my Asian History class way back in high school. It was that particular lecture wherein my teacher emphasized the importance of river systems in the early civilizations.

China, whose civilization had been said to have stood the test of time, is currently facing a problem that literally stains Yangtze. Yangtze, pride of their civilization and the longest river in Asia, is now threatened because of worsening pollution. In Report: Yangtze Water Worsening, it was revealed that around 600 km of the said river is in critical condition.

Yangtze River

Photo by Xinhua News

In 2006, according to Wikipedia, the baiji or river dolphin was already declared functionally extinct.

Today, it is feared that the river pig, also known as the finless porpoise, may follow suit because of the deteriorating river environment.I hope that this cultural wonder will not lose its beauty and wonder. The future generations should see the mother river of the Chinese people.

Great news for all Sanriotowners! Our favorite online community has launched a video-making contest at DreamStudio. The prizes are fabulous! A diamond pendant, a video digital recorder, and a PINK digicam! Now, I’m thinking of joining. Suddenly, I feel like shining!!! Hahaha.

sanriotown-diamond


I realized just now that my post yesterday about swimming with the whale shark can be considered a dazzling moment. Too bad, I do not have that much pictures. Hmmm. Anyway, i’ll think up of other moments, instead.

I really hope a lot of people will join. Mothers’ day is already this May and this pendant is surely a lovely gift to moms! Good luck everyone!

I had the rare chance of swimming with a whale shark. Whale sharks are now considered endangered, meaning their numbers have been steadily decreasing in recent decades.

FYI: According to Wikipedia, the highest concentration of whale sharks is in the Philippines. From January to May they congregate in the shallow coastal waters (at Donsol).

Whale sharks are the largest living fish species. Do not be misled by the name, the whale shark is not a man-eating shark species. It is often used as an example to educate people that not all sharks are dangerous.

The whale shark species does not pose a threat to humans despite its enormous size. Here it is:

Whale Shark

Here’s a baby whale shark found in Mindoro, Philippines:

baby whale shark

Photos by WWF-Philippines

A Briefer from WWF: Since 1998, WWF-Philippines has been assisting the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Donsol in conserving the whale sharks (Rhincodon Typus) and developing a community-based whaleshark ecotourism program for the municipality. The project supported the establishment of a community-based ecotourism program and participatory assessments as basis for coastal management. Since 2002, 8,088 visitors descended to Donsol earning the town PhP 4.2 million in registration fees, whale shark tours and other services. The direct monetary benefits are equitably shared among whale shark interaction officers, banca operators, LGU and tourism suppliers. Whale shark tourism is currently the number one tourist destination for Bicol Region and was awarded the Kalakbay Award for the best ecotourism destination in 2003. In 2004, TIME magazine cited Donsol as the best animal encounter destination in Asia.To protect the whale shark habitat, WWF-Philippines in cooperation with the LGUs will implement coastal resources management in 11 barangays and in the neighboring town of Pilar. The project gained more momentum when the newly elected mayor of Donsol renewed the enforcement campaign against illegal fishing. The project is supported by USAID through WWF-US.

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Hi guys, I wrote this this in 2004 when I volunteered for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines.

My Donsol Experience

Last May 26, 2004, I experienced the unbelievable, a close encounter with the whale shark—the worlds largest fish. Not that I thought that it was not possible. Rather, because I am devoid of the faculty of swimming. Before, I never saw it as a disadvantage on my part. However, after my interaction with the butanding (whale shark), I very much wished I were an expert swimmer, a diver more so.

We left the shores of Donsol at around 10:00 AM . It was sheer excitement that filled me as the motor commenced. One Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO) said that at times, even at a 100m distance from the shore, a butanding could be sighted. I was keeping my fingers crossed. I thought to myself, That would not be too deep yet. Wonderful! But then, the motorboat went farther and farther and that actually made my heart thump. I began to feel reluctant on whether to go down the boat or what. Boy, I was really scared. Believe me, this is just an understatement. I even kissed my friends and they kidded me “Angel, is this your premonition?” I just laughed my fear off. I told them “Guys, I’ll just watch you from here, okay? The boat ride is great!”

After about 45 minutes, a butanding was sighted. My companions got themselves all geared up. I told them I’d go down on the next sighting. And off they went. Unfortunately, they were not able to see it. The butanding immediately went deeper into the water. So, when they got back, we went around in circles to find other whale sharks. Not too long after, there was another sighting. I was just wearing goggles and a life vest. I was able to gather enough confidence because I would just be tagged along by the best diver in the place. My mind was confident but my physicality was not. Jumping off the boat was already a major difficulty on my part. The diver even had to give me words of encouragement before I actually went down. God, I felt the waves against my body. Then, I knew that my life was heavily dependent on the diver, Manong Daryn. Because I was really clinging on to Manong Daryn, we were not able to move fast. I even rode him piggyback that made it harder for us to follow the others. So, I just asked Manong to bring me back to the boat. And he did. It was a blessing in disguise, though, because when we were back aboard, we noticed that one of our companions was having a hard time swimming. He was, in fact, already struggling for breath. Manong Daryn rushed to his rescue. We discovered afterwards that the flippers made it difficult for him to move. At the next sighting, I had almost convinced myself not to go down the boat. But I noticed the people enjoying the interaction. So, I went down. Good thing the butanding was feeding. The interaction was so long. The first time I saw it, it made me say “Wow!” I felt satisfied with that one look. It was already a big hurdle for me to go down there. I told Manong Daryn “Manong, I saw the whale shark already. Can we go back to the boat?” He disagreed. He told me “This is one of the most beautiful creatures of the ocean, watch it a little longer.” So I did. Manong brought me to the tail of the whale shark to its body then to its large head. It was so cute. It looked so gentle while it was feeding. Several sightings followed. At around 12:30 pm , we went back to the shores of Donsol.

What I experienced at Donsol’s waters will surely be with me for the rest of my life. It was, by far, the most courageous thing I have ever done in my life. And I am more than glad that I took the risk. What I saw was indeed a wonder. As one of my companions in the boat said, “The wonderful thing about the whale sharks in Donsol is that we see them not as captives but rather, in their natural state.” And I believe that exemplifies conservation in its truest sense.

When I got back to my dormitory, my mom called me and asked me about my experience. I could go on and on. And before the call ended, my mom remarked, “When you get back home, I’ll force you to take that long overdue swimming lesson. I wont take no for an answer.” Definitely, I will be obedient this time.

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I hope that the future generations will still see this wonderful species, along with other marine life that are endangered like many whale species. Here’s a video from Greenpeace:

I came across some Hello Kitty products that are environmental in a sense. I was happy to discover them because aside from their extreme cuteness, they are environment-friendly too.

Hello Kitty notebook
environotebook

This notebook uses recycled paper.

Nonwoven shopping bags

These are non-woven bags that were produced the non-adhesive way making way for less energy consumption. Plus, non-woven fabrics are recyclable.

Hello Kitty LED Light

New style crystal-cartoon mini night-light is made of environmental saving energy LED diode of 21th century, using rated power 0.3W, and extending your working time. Safe and friendly, made of non-toxic crystal material. Rated power 180-250V, 50/60Hz, alternating current outlet can often be used.

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