Ang Kalusunan: Finding happiness in nature

By Aimee Oliveros

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It was a Saturday afternoon. I was all alone with no clear plans for the weekend. I remember that my mind was active, wandering, and quite restless. Then it started to rain. I can vividly remember the gentle sound of the rain and the cool breeze outside my window. As I opened my window, I saw that the rain started to pour over our long-standing guava tree. I can see how the rain gently flows from the leaves to the branches, down to the trunk, forming a puddle on our roof. I can only hear the raindrops—everything seemed to quiet down, even my thoughts. I remember this overwhelming feeling of calmness and oneness with our world.

Stop and breathe, words that I often hear about but did not fully understand until that very moment. Looking out, the view was now entirely different from what I saw in the morning when the skies were clear, and the sun was shining sweetly. It made me realize how our world can change in a minute, in a week, or a year, and we should take opportunities to live our life with purpose and always with a grateful heart.

The rain passed after a few hours and everything seemed to be back in place, I can hear children playing outside and cars passing along. While everything seemed to return to normal, I remember the feeling that I was not the same person as the person I was before the rain—at that very moment I felt simply happy. Years later, I still enjoy my quiet moments in nature, I started practicing mindfulness to always feel my connection to our wonderful world. Happiness to me is all about connection—to ourselves, our community, and most profoundly to our natural world.

The Do’s and Dont’s 

In March, we celebrate the International Day of Happiness—a day to recognize the fundamental goal of happiness in humanity. Happiness may have different definitions, meanings, and spectrums, and we all have our own paths to achieve it. Here are the answers of our Climate Reality Leaders to our question: “How do you find happiness in nature?”

“Have empathy. Be a conscious consumer. Spread awareness. Learn that every little action you do creates a bigger impact on the future. As they say, we may never reach zero in zero waste but that's no reason to take zero action. Go save your future!

– Angelic Pedroso, 2021 Global Training, from Zambales

“Grow something! May it be a plant or an animal you can take care of. It’s one of the best ways to develop a personal relationship with the environment from the comforts of your own home. Get your soles dirty - go walking, camping, or hiking! Experience nature with your own two feet.”

– Eiren Buenviaje 2021 Global Training, from Laguna

“Today, I discovered that reconnecting to nature is the journey back home to the self, finding inner peace, and soul-deep reconnection. Even though I am living in the city, I always spend my weekends and free time wandering the public parks surrounded by nature and reading books on park benches. I always influence my family and friends to go to the beach and mountains so they can appreciate the beauty of God’s creation. When I walk and breathe slowly with nature, I feel instantly relaxed, especially barefooted. The simple act of removing my sandals and standing barefoot on the ground satisfies my tribal reconnection with my ancestors. Cloud watching while lying in the grass in the evening with a bustling soundtrack of insects clears my mind from stress and brings calm to all my senses. I am also a “tree-hugger,” I hug trees to top up my positive energy level of strength and oxygen-rich goodness from nature. My happiness with nature always attracted me to become a plantito and influence others to do the same. So anytime I want to feel happy, I go out and commune with nature.”

– McRey Sario 2020 Global Training, from Cavite

“By trying to recognize the harmony of colors, shapes, and sizes. Just as I look at paintings and the complementary colors that make them up, I look at nature by looking at it as if it has been painted by a master. When I understand that nature has been made to create a big masterpiece, I begin to appreciate all the small and big details it has. That everything was there for a purpose and that they are beautiful altogether and you can just separate one from the other.”

– Samantha Geraldine De Los Santos 2020 Global Training, from Laguna

The Highs and Lows 

This month we continued with our Regional Hangout with Climate Reality Leaders in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and Bicol. Similar to our pilot session, this online session was organized per region to provide strategic pathways for initial communication, connection, and collaboration among Climate Reality Leaders within the same region or locality. CALABARZON is home to around 280 Climate Reality Leaders, MIMAROPA with 20, and Bicol with over 60 Climate Reality Leaders.

Each session is interesting and full of amazing stories about how they are paving a better reality for all. Aido Sepeda of Cavite is currently active in education and community organizing. Al Tesorero of Laguna is currently a social media climate justice intern. Eiren Gee Buenviaje of Laguna is currently using her voice to empower the youth to address climate issues in the environmental organizations that she is a part of. Geri De Los Santos of Laguna is currently doing research on climate-smart communities and personally avoiding single-use plastics. Maribeth Fruto of Sorsogon is active with community engagement for the environment. Nestor Baguinon of Laguna is currently writing a book to help Filipinos identify native from alien tree species. He is about to publish “Atlas of the Philippine Trees” and “Exotic Trees in the Philippines.” Mitzi Borromeo, meanwhile, is currently working on media content for kids to learn about the environment and arts.

During the pre-work activity, we asked our Climate Reality Leaders what they consider as top climate issues within their localities. For CALABARZON region, they identified biodiversity loss, deforestation, pollution, and waste management among the top climate issues. In the Bicol region, results showed that there were issues with ecological and environmental stability, as well as agricultural damages due to flooding and waste management. There is more to learn about climate issues in MIMAROPA and we look forward to connecting with our Climate Reality Leaders in the region. While issues may be different across the different regions, the fundamental issue they raised was the loss of interconnection between man and nature. It’s interesting to see how the next sessions would bring about more connections and collaborations. Watch this space and connect with us!

What’s in store for #LuzonLeaders?

Climate Reality Leaders in Metro Manila, join our upcoming online Regional Hangout on April 21!

We would love to hear from you! Do you have any climate questions but are too afraid to ask, or maybe just a comment in our monthly column, just email me at aimee.oliveros.ph@climatereality.com.   

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR 
 

Aimee is the Luzon Coordinator of The Climate Reality Project Philippines. She is a human resources professional with over 10 years of corporate work experience in different local and multinational industries. With her experience in organizational development, training and employee engagement, Aimee is deeply passionate about promoting learning and wellbeing. She is a Climate Reality Leader having joined the 2020 Global training which solidified her inner passion for community work and service. Being an advocate for the environment, she co-founded RE-Store MNL, a small shop promoting refill and reuse in Paranaque City. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences at the University of the Philippines Baguio.

ABOUT ANG KALUSUNAN

Ang Kalusunan or the “Northern Part” is a space that aims to amplify the climate stories and initiatives of the more than 1,200 Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders in Luzon.

It is one of the monthly columns launched by The Climate Reality Project Philippines to elevate the climate discourse and strengthen climate action across all regions in the Philippines.

“Find your place in the climate space. Find what aspect of climate & environmental advocacy you resonate with. And then, claim that place in the space.”