I stopped eating beef in November 2014. So far, I don’t miss it… that much. I got through the holidays and said, “No thank you,” to a number of steaks and roast beefs. So any other season should be a breeze without the number one source of protein. Hehe! I decided to stop eating cows when I read this article that had an expert state, “The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat.” (For details on WHY, read the article.) Since I want to be kinder to the world humanity has been abusing from time immemorial, I figured it’s the least I can do as a member of the species. Going vegetarian (possibly even vegan) was always an option locked up in my mind. Assuming I wasn’t ready to give up meat yet, I made a conscious effort not to read books or watch videos that’ll make me feel terrible for eating meat. Ignorance is bliss, right? Also, I didn’t want to stop eating a specific type of meat versus another. I felt that would be discriminatory… But then the article about beef gave me a reason to target cows and the cattle industry before any other animal. It seemed the perfect way to start that road to a more sustainable and less cruel diet. This year, I’ve decided to limit my meat intake to one meal a day. It has been a month and a half and I’m getting along quite fine. I’m not certain what type of impact I’m making on the environment. But to get a better idea, check this link out! It shows the impact of going vegetarian one day every week. The numbers are pretty impressive – saving 2,400 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain per pound of beef! The fact that I’m just one person may make the impact negligible. But, I figure, it’s just like voting. Choosing to purchase beef is giving my vote to the cattle industry and the impact it has on the environment. They can win votes by a landslide, but that shouldn’t stop me from passing my honest vote against them. If they keep on keeping on, it won’t be thanks to my hard-earned cash! :p That’s how it is, I suppose. Purchasing power really is “power” in the sense that you have more votes to give to more businesses and industries. Your purchase is a contribution to the success of a business. It took me a while to realize that and accept it. Even consumption comes with a responsibility to society and the world as a whole. Hassle noh? Ang daming kailangan isipin. Hahaha! But that’s the way the cookie crumbles. (Apologies if any bliss was shattered with the ignorance bubble. But you can always shrug it off as you dream of your next juicy burger. Haha.) I hope to learn more about my purchases. It should extend to more than just food (although food really is a huge chunk of the budget) and more than just sustainability. At the end of the day, I just want to be a responsible consumer and a conscientious humanoid. 🙂
The Do Good Get Dirty trip turned out to be way more than I expected and I am sincerely grateful to Green Cross and Rajah Travel for taking us on such a grand adventure! Check out snippets of our exploits here and our yummy Dumaguete food trip here. You can also watch and share in our experience here. :)
I found myself crashing a fiesta, jumping off a cliff, and swimming with sea turtles!
I joined the Do Good Get Dirty challenge to make a difference but tables turned and the experience changed me instead! 🙂
I now know a bit more about my country.
It’s a shame I haven’t gone to more places around the Philippines. There are so many interesting pockets to visit and learn about! Negros Oriental is one of those little sachets with a unique history and inspiring stories packed inside. Special shout out to our tour guides Kuya Bong in Dumaguete, Valencia, and Apo Island and Kuya Luis in Siquijor. These guys have an answer for everything! And I really appreciated sharing the experience with people so passionate, knowledgeable, and proud of their home. If you’re receptive, you may just develop a love for the place, too.
I actually enjoyed eating buko-y stuff!
Mababaw, maybe, but there are things I’m certain about and one of those things is my dislike for the taste of coconut and coconut milk. I would rather eat crickets than gata! (I know I’m weird.) But I told myself to step out of my comfort zone during this trip. And, apparently, that meant eating Dumaguete Express (made with coconut milk) and I even ate buko pandan dessert! The awesome food trip would not have been complete without Dumaguete Express. I loved it! And it has opened me up to trying food I normally wouldn’t.
We all jumped.
A 30-foot drop into a crystal clear sea… Lui, Tim, and I were all afraid of the jump for different reasons. Tim was afraid of the fall. I was afraid of the landing. And Lui was afraid of the water. Still, each of us made the leap! It was thrilling and empowering. I am so proud of Team Dumaguete!
I was reminded of how we are all connected.
The highlight of the trip was Apo Island – a marine sanctuary where sea turtles like to chill out. Every month, the community gets together to clean their beach. This is a very tight-knit community, quite literally all family, of about 1,000 residents. It was moving to meet them and be a part of their monthly routine.
The target, really, is plastic. They explained that the sea turtle or pawikan feeds on seagrass and algae. Sadly, it is in these seagrass beds that many pieces of plastic get tangled. Eating the plastic can poison the sea turtles and kill them.
As a group, we started cleaning up the beach from one end to the other. I honestly expected little trash here and there considering they clean up every month. Unfortunately, I was wrong. There were way too many little and big bits of plastic, most entwined in the seaweed washed up on shore. What’s alarming is that most of the trash isn’t even from the Apo community, nor is it from tourists that snorkel or dive. The garbage comes from the sea (which, in turn, came from the rest of us). And the recent storms have increased the volume and frequency of this dumping of waste on Apo Island.
One of the most jarring moments happened when I was already snorkeling with the graceful pawikan. I was swimming after one and noticed a string of plastic stuck around its tail (You know the kind they use to secure boxes?). We aren’t allowed to touch the marine life so I pointed it out to our guide. Thankfully, he was able to pull the string free from the poor pawikan.
I’m certain this isn’t unique to Apo Island. I wonder how many of my wrappers have found a way, somehow, onto a pretty beach (or worse). I rarely think about where my waste goes after I throw it into a bin. But we never know, right?
Even unconsciously, the little things we do can make an impact on others and the environment.
I got to thinking about the mass production of all plastic packages and bottles and ropes and strings… And how we don’t really think about how much we consume and how much garbage is produced in the process.
There is so much natural beauty in the world. How long will it take for us to wreck it all?
My trip to Dumaguete and Siquijor was one for the books. It was fun and exciting and insightful and inspiring and magnificent! (I even witnessed the most beautiful sunset.) And while there were challenges here and there, I realize the bigger challenge is sustaining the “Do Good” part of the campaign wayyyyy after the experience.
While I have no control over what everyone else does, I am responsible for my own choices. And there are a whole lot of things I can do to minimize my impact on the environment.
Using a reusable water bottle instead of buying disposable bottled water, using reusable bags for groceries, being more mindful of what goods to buy and their packaging, maybe buying in bulk instead of tiny sachets, ensure my waste is disposed of properly, eating less or no meat, buying locally produced goods, use less energy, unplug, don’t waste paper, etc.
Maybe sometime soon, I’ll find a way to make a bigger and more lasting impact. But, despite the cheesiness, I do believe that it starts with me. I have to live it.
Thanks again, Green Cross Alcohol and Rajah Travel, for such a fun and inspiring experience! If you're in the mood for some yummy food, check out my post on Dumaguete's Delights! Also, check out our webisode!
My goal this year was to jumpstart my career working for causes and for positive change in the world.
I believe I’ve made strides by doing a whole bunch of everything in GET. It’s a great start. And although it’s extremely taxing, I am still crazy committed to pursue a career in development.
But I will admit, I miss traveling.
My mom, sister, and ninong (godfather) just flew to Dubai and I’m so inggit (envious)! So what do I do? I Google. (Research helps me deal with my emotions. Thank you, interwebs! HAHA!)
Doing a bunch of research on how to travel for free, I came across the idea of “Volunteer Travel”. Exciting!
There are actual travel tours that incorporate volunteerism in the package! Check out Contiki or Volunteer Travels for cheap travel and immersion: take care of animals in a nature reserve, help educate orphans, or join environmental projects – in South America, Europe, or somewhere closer to home!
Spending time immersed in a foreign culture does wonders to your perspective. Imagine actually getting your hands dirty and becoming part of a solution instead of just complaining about a problem? I’m certain that would be an enlightening and an empowering experience. I would lurrrrve to be a part of that!
Since I’m on a TIGHT budget, I found the perrrrrfect option. Plus you might be able to come, too, because it’s for free. 🙂
I came across the Do Good Get Dirty campaign of Green Cross. And just in time, too! (I think you can only submit entries until October 3) You just have to submit a short video for a chance to travel for free as a volunteer. How awesome is that?
I’ll have to choose a destination, though. You can pick from 3. I’m still deciding between Siquijor and Sarangani (since I’ve already been to Puerto Prinsesa)… What do you think?
Mount Matutum, Sarangani: Tarsier Sanctuary
Yes! There are tarsiers outside of Bohol. And Endangered Species International is working with the local tribe to protect the tarsiers and their habitat.
Siquijor: APO Island Marine Sanctuary
First off, it’s in Siquijor – a place known for their aswang (a mythical monster in the Philippines). The scare-factor alone entices me! And I’m in need of a tan… So. I’m leaning towards this one. HEEHEE.
In truth, either one would be awesome. Environmental Conservation is a cause close to my heart and I should do more to support it. It’s not like mother nature has a voice we can literally understand; it’s not as if wildlife can represent itself and voice out concerns to government or the U.N.. And, being Filipino, it’s one of the few remaining things that make me proud of my country – the Philippines’ natural beauty.
If you’re interested in joining, let me know! We can support each other by voting and liking each others’ videos and things like that. It would be cool to go on such a meaningful trip with strangers that can turn out to be wonderful friends. 🙂