Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The First Step

The moment I stepped my bare foot on the white sand, I felt renewed energy building up inside me as if life was breathed into me again. When I touched the cold, salty water, I felt a tingling sensation in my fingertips. The thing was so pure, untainted, incorruptible. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the harmonious chorus of the waves. How could a single dirt destroy the magnificence and grandeur of a place like this? The thought was like hearing an innocent child sobbing in silence, rivulets streaming from her ocean eyes. I felt guilty. I hope a nightmare like that doesn't happen.

I opened my eyes and looked towards the horizon. At the other side, what if the feelings of amazement and ecstasy I had were the exact opposite of that of a man disgustedly staring at the murky water while inhaling the putrid air? Nature has given us so much but we have given nothing in return. Not even reverence. Do we even have the right to feel disgusted? It is said that nature can live without man but man can never live without nature. Personally, I feel ashamed because in spite of the sickly state of our mother nature, she has still chosen to bestow me peace, strength and optimism. We never realize how a sturdy old acacia tree in the corner of a paved road gives vital energy to a despairing person seeking a shade to rest during a hot day. Primary school had taught us about the importance of plants and other living things to human beings. One cannot live without the other because everyone is interconnected. Life is beautiful. All things are. For God's creation is everlasting. I looked up to the azure sky wiped with thin strokes of feathery clouds and I promised myself that nothing could ever hurt mother nature again. I will resolutely do my best to protect it even though what I can do may seem too insignificant.

When I heard about Gawad Kalinga Bayani Challenge to be held in Bantayan Island in Cebu, I never hesistated to join. Since college, I have always been interested to participate in community building activities. For me, being able to help other people gives me joy and uplifts my spirit. This time I had the chance to be closer to mother nature. There are many things you can do: house build, teaching children, school build, island greening, among others. My team and I participated in island greening. The experience was like taking care of an ill mother. It made me remember my own late mother. We did coastal cleanup, tree planting, and mangrove planting in a span of five days. April 4 to 9 was an unforgettable week for all of us. As a part of our contribution to the country, we had made new friends among the participants, co-team members and residents of Bantayan Island, were inspired by talks and stories of people whose personal lives were touched by GK, had danced and flown high to patriotic beats and music played by homegrown bands, and had gained a magnanimous sense of self-fulfillment. It was no other vitamin for the heart.

After the hardwork and the exhaustion from our different tasks for several days, I came to walk along the beach. I felt frustrated when I saw a piece of plastic lying on the sand. Have we just done coastal cleanup? It may seem absurd but I squatted, picked the trash up, and put it in my pocket. I know it is never impossible to make this place clean again. But one thing is certain. I have lessened the trash in this place, one plastic at a time. That makes me believe nothing is ever impossible as long as you set your heart into a certain goal no matter how small your steps are to actualize it. An individual's contribution may be trivial but together in a million, billion, or trillion squad, together in “bayanihan,” we can all make it. We can end poverty in the Philippines and all the problems and sufferings in this world. The first step is “to care.”