I’ve been thinking really hard about what to give my Mom on Mother’s Day. Being 65 years old and stuck at home for weeks due to COVID-19 outbreak, she feels helpless and sad. Finding a way to cheer her up on Mother’s Day would have been easier for me if she’s here in Canada and not 7,000 miles away.
As I was browsing through the internet to find that perfect gift, a pop-up notification informs me that I am running out of computer space.
While moving some of my files into my USB stick, I found several photos taken from our many vacation trips with my Mom: Mom wearing a pretty, floral dress at my wedding in Edmonton; Mom and I hugging each other, with the magical view of Lake Moraine behind us; Mom, Steve, Jane, Jr and I standing by the river at The Forks; Mom playfully crossing the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver; Mom and the rest of the Amora family wearing red Canada Day shirts at Christmas in the Philippines.
But today the beauty of these places, and the ability of other families to safely live and work there, are threatened by the effects of climate change.
The forests of Clayoquot Sound located on the west coast of Vancouver Island are still being logged. Alberta’s oil sands continue to cause growing levels of acid rain consequentially leading to an increase in water contamination in the area. Many Canadian cities are submerged in floodwaters. And in the North, which is heating up three times faster than the rest of the world, the permafrost melts and sea ice thins, threatening biodiversity and food security.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has its fair share of bad luck: rising waters, typhoons, floodings, droughts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, illegal loggings, COVID-19 and a corrupt government.
As another Mother’s Day approaches and the earth continues to deteriorate, know this: as mothers, women and Filipino-Canadians, we have a unique responsibility — and ability — to rapidly move our community in a healthier direction on climate change.
My mom, just like all other Filipino Moms, is a green influencer. Problem is, she doesn’t know it. But how exactly is my mom a green influencer?
She taught us to eat vegetables at a younger age. “Kumain ka ng gulay. Hindi tayo mayaman!” (You have to eat vegetables. We’re not rich!)
She hates food waste. “Pag ‘di mo inubos yang pagkain mo, lagot ka sa akin!” (If you don’t finish your food, you’re in a big trouble!)
She recycles things. “Wag mong itapon yang lalagyan ng Sky Flakes ha. Paglalagyan ko yan ng tirang ulam.” (Don’t throw the biscuit container out. I will use it for leftovers.)
She knows how to refuse. “Ang mahal-mahal ng gown na yan! Isang beses lang susuotin. Mag-rent ka na lang!” (That’s a very expensive gown. You’ll only use it once. Just rent one!)
She supports thrift shops. “Anak, binilhan kita ng damit galing ukay-ukay. Mura na, maganda pa!” (Here, I bought you some clothes from the thrift shop. So cheap but they look great!)
She knows how to conserve energy. “Hatinggabi na, gising pa kayo! Patayin nyo na ang ilaw, magastos sa kuryente!” (Why are you still up? Turn off the lights, you’re wasting energy!)
Reorienting Filipino-Canadian families
Women, by nature, are caretakers and nurturers – of their families, their communities, and by extension, the earth. The role is passive and reactive, but gender stereotyping aside, I find these qualities to be our strongest asset. Our caring and nurturing nature inspires us to analyze and protect everything around us.
Rachel Carson, the mother of environmental movements, didn’t just watch the birds die. She published Silent Spring and exposed the dangers of indiscriminate use of synthetic pesticides.
Erin Brockovich, a former law clerk, didn’t turn a blind eye to Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) contamination of groundwater in Hinckley, California. Erin, who has no formal education in law, started an investigation that resulted in a $333 million settlement in 1996.
The indigenous women in Ecuador didn’t just fight for their home, the Amazon. They fought the capitalist oil drilling and forest destruction for all – and won.
Finding the time to fit climate action around the demands of work and home life can be challenging. But perfection is never the goal. However, small steps do add up.
Maybe it’s time to choose a plant-rich diet for the entire family. Or create less waste in food, clothing and electricity. You can vote with your dollar by supporting environmentally friendly consumer products. You can also pick an environmental cause you’re passionate about and advocate for it. Be creative in sharing environmentalist values among your family, friends and colleagues.
In the end, my motivation for fighting climate change comes down to one reason: to pay tribute to my mother, and Mother Earth, who nurture us all.
Jomay Amora-Dueck is the creator of theecoistcollective.com. She is the author of Becoming Ecoist: A Beginner’s Guide to Minimalist and Sustainable Living. Download your FREE copy at www.theecoistcollective.com.