Ecofeminism A Philippine Experience; (Conclusion)

Manila Bulletin, March 23, 2002 | Go to article overview

Ecofeminism A Philippine Experience; (Conclusion)


Ecological situation

AFTER acquainting our participants with the basic concepts and principles of ecofeminism and after they realize what women should indeed have a special concern for the protection, preservation and promotion of the environment, we then proceed to discuss the state of the environment, global and local. For the global situation, we show the film, Race to Save the Planet, which traces the development in human society from the nomadic to the agricultural to the industrial and shows how the increasing intrusion of human activity into the ecological system gave rise to the ecological crisis. Highlighted as global issues are the issue of global warming and the thinning of the ozone layer.

For the local environmental situation, the participants are divided into regions and are asked to identify the environmental problems in their regions. Collation of the discussion shows that in the Philippines the most important environmental issues are deforestation, destruction of coral reefs and mangroves, industrial pollution of air and water, especially by the mining industry and by the dumping of industrial wastes into bodies of water. Philippine forests are now down to 10% of the original extent in the 1830?s. The Mining Act just passed in 1998 is giving multinational companies who apply for a license the right to explore 86,000 hectares for mining purposes. These have been outbreak of diseases due to industrial pollution, notable among them the Marcopper incident in Marinduque and also several reported deaths from the toxic wastes left behind in the American Military Bases. Globalization has intensified mono cropping, which necessitates the massive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The population congestion n cities, especially Manila, has given rise to waste-dumping problems, the most dramatic of which was the Payatas tragedy where hundreds of people whose houses were sitting on garbage mountains were buried beneath the garbage when the mountain of garbage gave way during a strong typhoon. People in the cities suffer from all sorts of respiratory diseases due to the exhaust from the many vehicles running through the busy streets.

The participants when confronted with these data are appalled at the critical condition of the environment not only locally but also globally.

Ecological Advocacy and Alternatives

It is to be expected that faced with the urgency of the environmental crisis, the participants would ask what they should do. As a general principle it was emphasized that one should take the matter in its socio-economic and cultural context. Otherwise one could take a myopic view of ecological problems and their causes and might lead us to the folly of environmental sentimentalism. There is need to define who are the primary culprits so that actions may be directed more effectively to those who are most responsible for the environmental degradation. For example in the Philippines, one cannot point one?s finger to the kaingineros (poor peasants who use the slash and burn method to earn their living) as the main responsible for forest destruction while overlooking the big commercial loggers. One can chide the small fisherfolk who use dynamite fishing but must not forget the big foreign-own trawlers who use equally objectionable methods of fishing with greater repercussions. One has also to show the culpability of government policies which have totally adopted globalization injunctions and policies.

Ecological advocacy includes both militant protest action as well as initiation of micro-alternatives. The formation of a strong civil society that will monitor governments and corporations and will initiate mass actions against environmentally destructive policies and practices is of utmost importance. However it is also necessary to show in concrete what could be realistic alternatives like geo-farms which are bio-diverse and self-sustaining, use of alternative sources of energy, waste management schemes, etc. …

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