By Rommel Miles Corro
October 9, 2022
The wide campus with its green environment, needless to say, introduced me to my initial experience of “earthing,” also known as “grounding,” which refers to the practice of connecting your body to the natural electrical charge of the earth.
This may sound a little woo-woo, but the science behind earthing and grounding is compelling. The earth is abundant in free electrons (negatively charged) that when connected to the body can help neutralize free radicals, providing antioxidant and immune-boosting properties. What was supposed to be my love at first experience with a bicycle and with the environs I was immersed in became a lifestyle for me in the long run.
This initial experience of a two-wheeled lifestyle, accompanied by my exposure to nature, went further when one of the university’s religious administrators invited me to pedal all the way to Amadeo, Cavite using the remote provincial roads that allowed me to experience less congested roads and be totally lost in the moment while traversing the scenic route lined with both mango and coconut trees surrounded with vast green space with lush green bushes.
I can literally inhale deeply while pushing my legs to pedal fiercely on those endless uphill climbs without regard for time or other concerns other than my being “one with my bike” moment. There was a surge of rejuvenation from all the green surroundings I was wrapped with—sort of my “bubble experience” if it were to be in the context of today’s pandemic.
Thus, my two-wheeled chronicles on my bicycle commute began almost three decades ago. This was immediately followed by longer hours on my saddle when I started cycling from Kilometer 0 in Manila to Tagaytay City from my residence in Muntinlupa to the Palace in the Sky (People’s Park today), the highest point in Tagaytay City.
Subsequently, all my bicycle adventures are within forest trails since our village was still very much surrounded by a very good percentage of forests. My simple and basic mountain bike took me from short bicycle commutes to longer destinations, and to what we used to call century rides (100 kilometers or more).
Eventually, my cycling skills went a notch higher as I started joining cross-country cycling. The main attraction of these races was not only my love for bicycles but more importantly my deep love for the forests. What essentially comprised most of the race routes are the endless fire roads surrounded by thick vegetation, river crossings, technical jumps punctuated in between the bicycle trails, and thick and lush greeneries.
Cyclists cannot help but remain in constant awe and remain small and helpless when left all alone in the vast forest, yet emerge victoriously rejuvenated once they cross the finish line. This means they were able to survive the arduous trails because they became one with nature and learned to maximize and acquire the benefits of a solitary ride while plunged deeply into the vast expanse of the forest trails.
Three decades later, this whole experience — from the simple act of bicycle commuting to joining cycling races and even once hooked in bike touring and camping, where I rode and circumnavigated the islands of Mindoro, Marinduque, and Polillo to name a few — radically and significantly changed.
My bicycle commute changed, from a short trip to my workplace which was characterized by a very green environment, it became a longer commute that required skills in surviving the urban jungle. My earthing or grounding experience while aspersed in nature, which contributed to my natural healing, has been replaced by the dangers of vehicles around me and the pollution I inhale during peak hours of commuting. The worst experience while bicycle commuting caught me as I initially succumbed to respiratory illness after just a year of riding my bicycle to work.
What used to be a large parcel of forest in my area of residence was slowly wiped out when subdivision developers continued to pillage whatever patch of green land remain in the area for “greener pastures” to satisfy their greed.
Three decades ago, I am easily warped and captivated by our natural forests. It was the peak of my spiritual journey while saddled up on my bicycle. Today, the world we live in makes it hard to experience those Zen moments because it is slowly consuming us with its smog, drowning us with unprecedented floods, and threatening our very existence as so-called development.
As an advocate for climate justice, I work with those who pedal the world in different contexts in framing climate change as a human rights issue and expanding climate change conversations beyond emissions and mitigation to incorporate the language of justice and humanity. We need greener and more sustainable development because failing to do so infringes on the right of every people to clean air and a healthy environment.
Rommel Miles Corro is a Climate Reality Leader and staunch supporter of sustainable mobility. Deeply in love and committed with nature, he is passionately involved in mass housing advocating green technology.
ABOUT ELEVENTH HOUR
This article was originally published on The Climate Reality Project Philippines’ weekly column for the Manila Bulletin called Eleventh Hour.
This column serves a digital space to discuss our organization’s work on supporting the country’s just transition into a clean, affordable, and self-sufficient energy system; advancing sustainable urban mobility to highlight the issues of equity and democracy; and raising public awareness about the need to phase out single-use plastics. It also serves as a platform for Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders to share your stories, promote your climate initiatives, and provide critical insights to issues that matter to climate action, environmental protection, and sustainable development.