I have not yet read Amanda Palmer’s book ‘The Art of Asking’, but it was what came to my mind after my phone call with The Climate Reality Project Philippines Branch Manager Rodne Galicha. It was the day before my birthday and I just came from a Climate Reality talk with some 40 Chemical Engineering students of the De La Salle University. Rodne and I were supposed to meet but since my schedule was tight, we decided to put off the meeting and call later instead. He greeted me a happy birthday and he said that he will ask somebody from Sibuyan Island to plant ten trees in my name.
I thought it was the most appropriate gift as I’ve been trying to offset my travels’ carbon emissions. And I also thought I didn’t really want any material gifts and wondered how many would plant trees or refuse disposables for me. There was no way of knowing if I didn’t ask, so I did!
Imagine my surprise when I was flooded with thoughtful greetings and some wonderful green gifts for Mother Earth in honor of my birthday! I can’t acknowledge here everyone who personally greeted me or sent a greeting via my facebook wall, messenger, whatsapp, text. All your thoughts are much appreciated. There was just so many, and I’m still receiving greetings until now. But let me share here the green gifts that I received which really surprised and inspired me.
Ellen Estares, fellow Philippine Normal University Torchie and Climate Reality Leader posted this on fb: “I enrolled in a Basic Sign Language Class and Have my first session today. Hope someday i can share our advocacy to the deaf and mute communities! Happy bday sis!”.
Mawi Mella Abalos, a former colleague who is a fan of the C2 Bottled Iced Tea commented: “Happy birthday, Ms shiela! At dahil dyan, magbabawas ako ng bottle ng c2 today.haha”
Baguio-based imaginal entrepreneur Grace Calleja posted this on fb, with two photos of what she calls the Shiela Chair: “HAPPY HAPPY Shiela DAY ❤💙💜. This is the best gift we can share with you on your special day. This is an upcycled and recycled chair which was finished today by the mother of our staff at Balbacua at Urban Kamote. Upholstery of chair was torn so we opted to have it re-upholstered using old newspaper. We shall name this THE SHIELA CHAIR in honor of one of the world’s climate reality leader and my good friend.”
CREST CBSUA of the same school in Naga (I’m not sure if she wants to be identified) who is also a MISSION member posted this on fb: “Shiela R Castillo HAPPY BIRTHDAY! May your tribe increase. Today, I will plant two Spanish Plums for you as you have wished.Always bear a happy heart to strengthen you in your longings.” Now I have to research what Spanish Plums are. I’m sure they’re wonderful. 🙂
Former co-teacher and kumare Manette Aquino said: “I am sewing together the blank pages of the kids’ old notebooks to make new ones. Happy birthday, my beautiful kumare! Stay pretty and healthy.” A practical mom!
Nedie Taberdo, a newly-trained climate leader based in Macau posted a photo of herself putting recyclables in segregated bins.
KC Fonseca, Community Affairs Officer at National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and newly-trained climate reality leader surprised me on messenger. “As to your “gift” Mam, we decided to include a native tree youth nursery as sub-program to our Adult Literacy Program in an Ayta community po.” I almost jumped for joy for this! Loveliest thought and project!
Waldorf educator and MISSION member who also trained with Climate Reality Leadership Corps Arlene Grino sent me a greeting on messenger. It was not really a gift to me personally, but I’m just so happy with what she said that I’m posting it here. “Im back to being vegetarian after trying Blissful Belly in QC w my mentor Dada Sumit.”
Last but not the least, fellow climate leaders NVC Kalibo Dean Rebecca Tandug and Pres. Allen Salas Quimpo made my birthday wish come true by arranging and joining me and my little family in replanting 200 mangrove propagules in the Bakhawan Eco Park Mangrove Forest in Kalibo. We also visited the 500 that climate reality leaders planted last year. They are now thriving and strong, showing off their lovely leaves! Eighty percent survival rate, not bad at all!
This is after a vegan breakfast of native delicacies that Rebecca brought. Atty Quimpo arranged for a vegan lunch that capped the wonderful day at the Bakhawan Mangrove Forest. It made me feel so loved and pampered. Atty Quimpo even joked that since I started coming to NVC, one of their teachers who happens to be a great cook, rarely cooked anything other than veggies.
I thank the universe that I had the audacity to ask. And what an overwhelming response it was! Lesson: Do not be shy to ask help for Mother Earth. Be surprised by how many people are actually willing to give her green gifts. And it doesn’t even have to be your birthday! I think this will be a yearly tradition for my birthday and other occasions as well. Love and light!