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Children need trees


Field work at Chickabompalli, learning from the community. Photo by Shaiju Chacko

An amazing thing (among many!), at least for me, happened during the field work our group had for The Workshop 2015 (19th Praxis Commune for Participatory Development), In Bangalore, India. The facilitators wanted at least each of the four foreign participants to join different groups. I was luckily made part of this awesome group composed of Shaiju, Nidhi, Nancy, Nitin and Afsar. Shaiju proposed for the group to be named Phil-Indies, marrying the names of the two countries represented.

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Welcome to the rest of my life

What’s so special for me about tomorrow, September 21? I can think of a number of things.
First, it’s the birthday of my best friend and imaginal collaborator Jags. He will be leaving for Liwanag Worldfest in Cebu so there will be no celebration.
Second, anniversary of Martial Law. I’m a Martial Law baby. It was simply a fact of my life. Maybe it’s the reason why the moment I went to college, long after Martial Law has been lifted, I immediately became an activist. But that was a long time ago. The country is still trying to heal the wounds it caused, while I have moved to another struggle, that of the environment.
Third, it’s the International Day of Peace, so there will be a global energy collectively ideating for peace.

Raw food breakfast, lovingly prepared by my soul brother Haresh Tanodra.
There is a fourth and final reason, which to me is the most personal one. I’ve decided to take the leap and become vegan. I’ve been wanting to be one for some years, but I always fall into the trap of giving up what I want most. Or maybe it’s an attachment to the programs that I grew up with, a lack of confidence in myself that I could pull it through, or a fear of getting out of the vegetarian comfort zone that I’ve been in for 17 years (became a vegetarian in 1996 but had a couple of vacillating years). I have become practically vegan for some time, about 95% (found out later this means plant-based). But then one is either vegan or not. And I feel I just have to be one.
I mentioned this desire in passing to a fellow participant in a training I attended in India recently. Her bewildered reply was, “But why?” And I can understand her reaction. I was like that before, and I had to really go deep into myself to realize the whys of it for me. There are so many reasons, but there will be other blog posts for it. I know it won’t be easy, but I’ve been through tougher times. I know that whatever I go through because of this change, my only enemy would be my weakness, my deeply-embedded programs, and my complacency. I’m facing this head-on knowing it will not be perfect. But at least I could tell myself that I did try.
Lunch at the office. Boiled green leaves and okra, fresh tomatoes, fried eggplant, and rice. With thanks to the lovely Lorna Batislaon.
Lunch at the office. Boiled green leaves and okra, fresh tomatoes, fried eggplant, and rice. With thanks to the lovely Lorna Batislaon.
So starting tomorrow, I will be vegan.

But I just have a small request.

Please help me pull it through. Help me become authentic to one of the deepest desires of my heart, and do not allow me to walk away from where I really want to be.
If I falter, please don’t judge me, lift me up.
If I forget, please don’t ridicule me, make me realize.
If I get tired, please don’t condone me, challenge me.
If I give up, please don’t laugh at me, make me remember.
If I am tempted, please don’t side with me, straighten me up.
It’s a terrifying yet exciting journey. Welcome to the rest of my life.