Being Kind To Yourself In The Midst Of A Pandemic

For several weeks—or even longer, depending where you are in the world—we’ve been finding ourselves trying to gain footing and get used to our new realities, which present differently for each person.

When COVID-19 hit our city, my initial reaction was shock and panic. I was so worried about my husband and my family back home that I was having sleepless nights and anxiety attacks. I was crying a lot, and I was sad most of the day. I never felt so vulnerable and scared.

But life has to go on. I can cancel my yoga sessions or cut back on socializing, but I cannot cancel my reality. I still have to show up at work. I still have to make dinner. I still have to do errands. I still have to live my life and continue to find or live my purpose.

So how do we take a break and interrupt the fear and stress cycles?

Answer: rethink your self-care.

Life is crazy and most of the time, I tend to put my self-care on the back burner to make room for all other things.

However, practicing self-care is an essential part of my life and it has helped me stay sane and upbeat. A few simple habits of self-care can be so rewarding and relaxing that it allows me to let go of everyday stress and negativity around me.

Below are some self-care tips that you can try today. Pick the ones that speak to you and adapt them to your liking.


Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

As women, we find it really difficult to remember our own happiness in addition to everyone else’s. We tend to love selflessly, but we also forget to give to ourselves.

Do you remember what flight attendants say before the plane takes off?

They always say, “Put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others around you.”

If you aren’t taking care of yourself, how will you be able to take care of others well?

You cannot share an empty cup, so fill yours first. Put away the excuses and take care of yourself first.


One of the simple things that make my inner self smile is having a few joyful rituals. This is my way of celebrating life and infusing my days with joy and meaning.

So what is a joyful ritual? For me, it can be a simple thing as enjoying tea or coffee time while reading a book on a weekend. Or having a nice, warm bath while listening to a relaxing sound or music. Or it can be a hugging ritual with your partner each night before bed.

A joyful ritual can be something so simple or common or even silly, yet heartwarming enough to make your soul smile, no matter what life throws at you.


Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Being thankful can make your life better in so many ways.

Research shows that people who are grateful find greater sense of feeling connected to others and have more optimistic view towards life.

One way of practicing gratitude is by starting your day with morning gratitude affirmations.

Affirmations of gratitude will help you to set the intention to spend your day in a state of thankfulness. This positivity allows you to better cope with any unpleasant surprises which the day may bring.

Saying positive affirmations helps me stay grounded and positive in the midst of daily challenges. It helps build my self-confidence, and overcome self-doubt and negative thoughts.

Here are some examples of positive affirmations that you can tell yourself everyday:

“Today, I am brimming with energy and overflowing with joy.”
“I am beautiful and strong, and my imperfections make me unique.”
“I am worthy of love, respect and acceptance. There is love all around me.”
“I have the power to create change.”
“All areas of my life are abundant and filling.”
“Every experience I have is perfect for my growth.”
“My past is not a reflection of my future.”
“My life is a gift and I appreciate everything I have.”
“My body is healthy; my mind is brilliant; my soul is tranquil.”
“I am successful. Money comes easily and effortlessly.”


Green eating is about making healthy, natural choices when it comes to the food we eat along with choosing foods that are healthy for our planet.

Why do I choose green eating?

Because it is better for your health, it reduces fuel consumption and global warming and it helps the local environment.


We live in such a rushed, over-stimulated, over-gadget-ized society. People tend to grab their phone first thing when waking up. Then work begins. Checking email leads to replying to email and before you know it, it’s time to get up and get ready for work.

Leave the electronics alone until you’ve given yourself time to prepare for the day. Make time for breakfast (the most important meal of the day) and save the email for the end of your morning ritual.

Find somewhere beautiful – a park, the woods, your kitchen – and just sit there. Be still. Absorb the sound of the wind through the trees, the light and the shadows, the peace, and just appreciate the stillness. It’s meditative and calming. Make time for stillness regularly.

More importantly, we should acknowledge our emotions. Allow yourself to be sad, angry, or frustrated, but do not dwell on it. We may not be able to control some things around us but we always have a choice to remain in control of our actions.


Here’s Why Living With Less Is Good For You

I did not become a minimalist overnight. In fact, it took me several years to fully understand the concept, and to finally let go more than half of what I own.

Over the course of now five years, I have finally simplified my life: I no longer go to the malls every weekend, I’ve either sold or donated most of my stuff – and most importantly – I’ve finally paid off my debts and changed my spending habits.

That day when I decided to declutter my life, I was overwhelmed by the difficulty and complexity of the tasks I made for myself. There were just so much stuff I have accumulated over the years that I didn’t even know where to begin with. It was such a daunting task, but I knew I had to do it.

But I wasn’t just getting rid of stuff – I was also getting rid of things that made me broke, unhappy and miserable.

When the clutter was gone, I finally realized what really meant the most to me and what makes my soul truly happy.

In his blog post entitled “Minimalism Explained”, Colin Wright, creator of blog called Exile Lifestyle, explains that minimalism shouldn’t be confused with ‘just getting rid of stuff’:

So when you think of Minimalism, you likely think of getting rid of stuff, not buying anything new, and living in a small white room with no furniture or pictures on the wall. This could be true, but in most cases it’s not.

It’s important to understand that the reduction of physical possessions is often a result of Minimalism, not Minimalism itself. Just giving away a bunch of things doesn’t make you a Minimalist, any more than buying a statue of Buddha makes you a Buddhist or doing yoga makes you healthy…And that’s what’s important to establish here: priorities.

What Minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff — the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities — that don’t bring value to your life.

Colin Wright, creator of Exile Lifestyle

There are so many amazing benefits a minimalist attitude could bring to your life.

Below are a few reasons why you should give minimalism a try:


Before embracing minimalism, I was very unhappy with my life.

My mortgage, debts and closetful of stuff literally weighed me down. My situation just made me feel anxious, sad and depressed. I thought there was no way out.

Embracing minimalism is like embracing freedom: Freedom from your earthly possessions. Freedom from stress. Freedom from depression. Freedom from fear. Freedom from regrets.

If you own less, then you don’t have to spend a lot of time organizing your closet or cleaning your space. Instead, you have the freedom to appreciate the things that really matter to you.

By living with less, we reclaim our time, our life and our freedom.


When you have a lot of things, your focus is all over the place. It is hard for you to give the important people and things enough attention.

We tend to give too much meaning to our possessions, often forsaking relationships with our parents, our spouse, our children and our friends.

Ask yourself this: Do you still spend quality time with your family? How many family dinners or special occasions did you miss because you had to work overtime? Do you still make time to reconnect with your close friends?

Minimalism is a tool that enables us to look past the material part of our life by paying attention to how we feel about our relationships and nurturing the ones we care most about.


Photo by Elle Hughes on Pexels.com

Minimalism promotes a lifestyle focused on less consumerism and more on personal meaning.

Living with only the bare essentials allows us to enjoy simple things such as a tidy room or a simple wardrobe. It also allows us to enjoy a feeling of contentment and gratitude. It allows us to be present and enjoy the moment.

With more time on our hands, we are able to pursue our passions and discover our missions. By finding our true purpose in life, we become happier and more grateful than ever.


Money, as the saying goes, is the root of all evil. It tears families apart, ruins marriages and relationships, and keeps people from being genuinely happy.

By simplifying our life – clearing the clutter, getting rid of the luxuries we don’t really need and stop making unnecessary purchases – we can focus on eliminating debt and making better financial decisions.


According to some research, experiences result in longer-lasting happiness than material possessions. People’s satisfaction with the things they buy decreases over time. Meanwhile their satisfaction with experiences increases over time.

Experiences also provide better memories. For example, I enjoy traveling because of the many memories I have traveling with my loved ones. I look back on those moments with great joy and fondness. I remember them far better than almost any of the physical gifts I have received in my life.


One of the most difficult tasks in terms of applying minimalism into my life is downsizing my closet.

When I moved to Canada, I only brought one big suitcase with me. Ten years later, I have accumulated a lot of clothing, shoes and accessories big enough to fill at least 10 balikbayan boxes.

I already had donated about 5-7 bags of clothing, and yet I felt like I was not even done yet. To put it into perspective, I have probably spent at least $2,000-$3,000 on those donated clothing.

Just thinking about how much money I have wasted over the years really make me feel sad. With that money, I could have paid another credit card or purchased a flight ticket to Manila to visit my family.

There is value in simplicity. When we consume less, we create more meaningful life – and a simpler wardrobe to choose from.

Remember: Less mess just simply means less stress.


Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

What people need to understand is that we all contribute to climate change. Our excessive consumerism leads to over-consumption that drains the Earth’s resources and accelerates climate change.

One of the benefits of minimalism is that it teaches us to live with intention and to be mindful of the consequences of our actions.

If we consume less, then we put less garbage in the landfill. So instead of buying plastic water bottles, get a reusable water bottle. Instead of constantly shopping for clothes, be creative with what you already have in your closet.

 In our own small ways, we can reduce our eco-footprints, minimize pollution and help protect Mother Nature.

Is minimalism something you’ve considered before? How did it change your life?


Are Filipinos Racist?

I am Filipina, born and raised. But unlike most people back home, I have a fair skin. Maputi ako, so growing up I was used to being called tisay, mestiza, or anak ni Tisoy. Everyone seemed to like my unblemished, fair-looking skin.

When I was young, people would ask my brown-skinned mother if my father was American. Meanwhile, others would ask me directly if I was mixed, and if not, then what soap, lotion or secret potion I use to get this fair complexion. It was annoying, and the truth is, I really didn’t care about my skin color.

But growing up, I witnessed how darker people were constantly being made fun of. I saw my girlfriends get upset with whitening products that didn’t seem to work for them. I noticed that people often mistook me as a rich kid just because I’m fair-skinned, and looked down on my friends who were dark-skinned (even when they were rich). I never had to hide under the shade, or use whitening lotions.

Back then – this may sound so inappropriate, but please don’t hate me for thinking out loud – I couldn’t help but thank my Dad, and his Spanish ancestors, for giving me the genes that spared me from constant ridicule, bullying, prejudice and heartache.

It’s unfair, I know that, but I was aware that my privilege has allowed me to thrive in certain situations. And I truly feel bad that the odds being in your favor still somewhat depend on the skin you’re in.

Human Zoo: A Tale of Indigenous Filipino Headhunters

A group of men crouch around a campfire, roasting a freshly skinned dog, poking at the glowing embers with sticks.
PHOTO: N.Y. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

While we’ve known for a fact that our ancestors were often looked down upon by their Spanish and American colonizers as dark-skinned uneducated savages, the lowest point of this centuries-old discrimination came in the form of America’s human zoos in the early 1900s.

In 1905, the Igorots of Bontoc, Mountain Province were taken from their homeland and displayed in exhibits for the American people to gawk.

The human zoo in Coney Island, New York displayed indigenous Filipinos inside a square bamboo fence – they were barefoot and naked except for loincloths; their backs and arms were covered in tattoos celebrating the human heads they have hunted. They were made to live out their daily lives in full view of the public.

Are We Racist?

Centuries later, much of the racism in the Philippines can be traced back to our colonizers, namely Spain and the U.S. Our ancestors were called indios, negritos, dog-eating headhunters and dark-skinned uneducated savages. They were vilified, humiliated and denied of freedom, rights and privileges.

Back then, and even to this day, the fair skin of the Europeans and Americans were praised and glorified. It birthed the colorism we experience now and the mentality that anything that isn’t white is bad.

Racism in the Philippines has never been as controversial as the racism you hear about in places like the U.S. or Europe, but discrimination exists everywhere—even at home.

Growing up, I had witnessed, and on some occasions, even took part in some racist behaviors that were mostly made in jest rather than in offense. We, as a community, collectively accepted and normalized internalized racism by using racist phrases and remarks in everyday conversations at home, at school, and at work.

So let’s be honest here. How many of us:

• Have made fun of black people, or people with dark skin?
• Have called them egoy, nognog, baluga, or the N-word?
• Have called East Indians “bumbay” or “5-6”?
• Have referred to Chinese people as singkit, or chekwa, while pulling back the corners of our eyes?
• Have avoided Muslim people, or someone in a turban or head scarf because we thought they were terrorists?
• Have made fun of Igorots, Mangyans, Bisaya and other indigenous and ethnic groups?
• Have used whitening products to whiten skin?
• Have looked at white people as good-looking?
• Have considered black people bad and ugly?
• Have mimicked and mocked the accents of foreigners you’re talking to?
• Have looked down at our own race for not conforming to the Western ideal?

An ad from SkinWhite has stirred controversy for apparently putting one of the twins in blackface. Photo: SkinWhitePH (Facebook).

Experts say that our unique brand of racism sits on the border between ignorance and innocence. I personally think that our lack of cultural sensitivity is mainly due to colonial mentality, lack of racial diversity and absence of racial awareness platforms.

But, however harmless or innocent our racist behaviors may seem, that doesn’t mean that it is any less concerning or offensive, no matter how we defend or sugarcoat it.

In one way or another – aware or not – we all have contributed to a culture of ingrained prejudice. This has to stop.


George Floyd’s death has sparked protests across the US and Canada, with demonstrators desperately calling for an end to racism and police violence.

Mr. Floyd was an unarmed black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes as he told them “I can’t breathe”.

The social media was filled with outpouring support for the Black community. As I scroll through the powerful black voices and messages, I couldn’t help but cry. Although I was angry, disgusted and completely heartbroken, I knew I was part of the problem.

As we celebrate the Filipino Heritage Month, we must not forget that as people of color, we belong to a larger immigrant community. Our history and struggles are in no way different than that of the Black community. We were both colonized, vilified and oppressed.

And now, our black brothers and sisters are being murdered, over and over again. We have to do something because what we’re doing is not enough. Silence is never an option.

As people of color, we have a duty to stand by each other, lift each other, and appreciate each other.

Let’s eradicate hate and racism by educating our community, challenging the norms and raising our voice for justice, compassion and equality.

Start by saying sorry.


My Filipino Mom Is A Green Influencer (Yet She Doesn’t Know That!)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother. Her name is Jocelyn, she is 65 years. She has been stuck at home since March due to COVID-19 lockdown measures in the Philippines.

They have been in lockdown for five months now. She’s not allowed to go out, and she is scared to do so anyway. She’s sad, anxious and helpless.

Finding a way to cheer her up these days is not an easy feat. Things are probably a lot better if she’s here with us in Canada and not 7,000 miles away.

I decided to find her a birthday and Mothers’ Day gift online. As I was browsing the internet, a pop-up notification indicated that I was running out of computer space. I guess it’s time to move some files somewhere.

As I was moving my files, I found several photos taken from our many vacation trips. There’s a photo of my mother wearing a pretty floral dress at my garden wedding in Edmonton. There’s also a few from our trips to Jasper, Banff, Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and various places in the Philippines.

My mom looked so pretty and happy in these photos. These places were amazing too. Looking at these photos made me smile.

And then it dawned on me that these places might be gone someday. Their beauty is being threatened by the effects of climate change. Somehow I feel thankful that we were able to visit these places and create fond memories.

But, what’s happening in Canada? 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.

For the first time since I moved to Winnipeg 13 years ago, the famous skating trail was closed in winter due to record-breaking water levels. Many other Canadian cities are submerged in floodwaters. And in the North, Canada’s last remaining intact ice shelf – the Milne Ice Shelf in Nunavut – collapses.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has its fair share of bad luck: rising waters, typhoons, flooding, droughts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, illegal loggings, extrajudicial killings and a corrupt government. The independent watchdog Global Witness named the Philippines as the most dangerous place for land and environmental defenders in 2019.


My mom, just like all other Filipino mothers, is a green influencer, yet she doesn’t know it.

But how exactly is she a green influencer?

She taught us to eat vegetables at a young 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 away. 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!)

I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.

Greta Thunberg, Swedish climate activist


Women, by nature, are caretakers and nurturers – of their families, their communities, and 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.

Women have a unique responsibility and ability to rapidly move our community in a healthier direction on climate change. As pandemics becoming more common and as the earth continues to deteriorate, more women are speaking out and marching on the streets to expose and oppose social and climate injustices in their communities.

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.

Greta Thunberg proved that you’re never too small to make a difference. Thunberg is the Swedish teenager who skipped school and inspired an international movement to fight climate change. She has become a leading voice, inspiring millions to join protests around the world. 

Joan Carling, an indigenous Filipino human rights activist and environmentalist, has been defending the rights of indigenous and marginalized peoples for over two decades. In September 2018, she received the Champions of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award from the United Nations Environment Programme in recognition of her work as an environmentalist and a defender of human rights.

Joan Carling. Photo by UN News.

Finding the time to fit climate action around the demands of work and home life can be challenging. Perfection is never the goal. But 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 energy.

You can vote with your dollar by supporting ethical and sustainable products.

You can also pick an environmental cause you’re passionate about and advocate for it.

Or talk to your family, friends and colleagues about sustainability and climate action.

In the end, my motivation for fighting climate change comes down to two reasons: my mother and Mother Earth, who both nurture us all.

Plastic Free July: Five Easy Ways To Reduce Plastic Waste

I love the idea of always trying to improve my life and work towards becoming the best version of me that I can possibly be.

I’ve been a big fan of 30-Day challenges and the positive impact that they can make on your life. It’s said that 30 days is enough time to solidify a new habit that you want to incorporate into your daily routine, or even to subtract a habit that hasn’t been good for your health or well-being.

This month, I signed up for the Plastic Free July Challenge. I’ve just joined millions of people reducing their plastic waste and I am pumped!

Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution. By simply choosing to refuse single-use plastics, we can help our communities have cleaner and safer streets, oceans, and environment.

Here are five easy ways to jumpstart your Plastic Free July Challenge:


Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com


Giant companies like Nestlé make billions bottling water it pays nearly nothing for. They drain and pull millions of gallons of water out of the ground of drought-stricken areas to bottle and sell.

Not only does bottled water come in a plastic bottle, but tremendous resources are used to extract, bottle, and ship it. Plastic also poses some health risks as it may leach chemicals into the water you’re drinking.

So, what is a better alternative? Get a reusable stainless steel bottle or travel mug. Take it with you and refill it wherever you happen to be.


Next up: Refuse all single-use plastic bags, bottles, straws and coffee cups.

They’re nasty – and they’re killing animals, polluting the rivers and oceans, and damaging our environment.

Single-use cutlery is used for a few minutes and discarded to remain in the environment forever. Even compostable cutlery has its limitations.

What to do then? Carry whatever works for you. Use reusable canvas totes for shopping, or put your purchases into a backpack like I do.

You can keep a stainless steel travel mug and a reusable utensil set in your purse at all times. Use these when buying coffee to go or when eating out.

By choosing to refuse single-use cutlery and takeaway containers, you can help set a precedent for sustainable alternatives and show how easy it can be.


Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

We have all seen them in the supermarket — the single vegetable wrapped in plastic.

Plastics are not naturally producing elements of the earth. They are synthetically manufactured with a combination of chemicals.

When food is stored in plastic bags, these chemicals can leach into the food and infest them. Studies have shown that these chemicals have been linked to tissue changes, genetic damage, early puberty and hormonal changes.

The best way to shop is to pick “naked” or loose fruits and vegetables. If you must buy a pre-packaged item, always choose recyclable packaging made of glass, metal, or paper over lower-grade plastic packaging.

You can also think of some changes your household could make. For example, if you eat a lot of cereal and you have a lot of plastic cereal bags (trash) and cereal boxes (recycling), you could find ways to shop in bulk (avoiding trash and recycling altogether) or choose less wasteful food options.


We know that with COVID-19, our local businesses faced many challenges.

It is important that we support our local businesses during this time, especially those that make an effort to implement sustainable business practices.

This is also a perfect time to encourage them to rethink and reduce single-use plastics. Let them know about reusable alternatives they can use instead, or ask them to consider welcoming customers who bring their own containers.

You can also encourage schools, child care centres, your workplace, and other establishments you’re connected with to rethink their use of plastic cutlery and takeaway containers.


Want some tips to find out how you can reduce plastic waste? Plastic Free July is full of ideas! Visit them here.

You can choose to refuse single-use plastics in July (and beyond!). Best of all, being part of Plastic Free July will help you to find great alternatives that can become new habits forever.

7 Easy Ways To Go Green In The Office

Did you know that the average person spends over 90,000 hours of their lives at work? That’s a lot of time, right?

Instead of focusing all of our sustainability efforts on just being greener at home, maybe we should also put an effort into going green in the office, right?

It’s really not that hard. Check out these seven simple ways to get started.


Did you know that 45% of printouts end up in bins by the end of the day? That’s a lot of paper.

One simple way of reducing paper waste is to send e-copies of documents and use online forms and file-sharing platforms instead of printing.

If you have to print, always make sure to set the office printer settings to print double-sided and in grayscale mode. Also, always use paper recycled paper such as those that have 100% post-consumer waste paper content.


If you’re able, bring in a desk plant.

Plants produce more oxygen, offsetting any chemicals released into the air.

Plants do not just improve the indoor air quality, they also improve mood and overall office aesthetic. They create a cleaner, happier space for your people to work in.


Did you know that about 6 million tonnes of single-use disposables get thrown out every year?

Yes! That’s how our culture of convenience destroys our environment and we have to do something about it.

Think of how often you buy food back to the office, and all the single-use plastic you get along with it. Instead, bring your own food and utensils. Not only will you save a lot of money, you will also drastically reduce the amount of plastic that go to the landfill.

If your office provides disposable products in the staff kitchen, why don’t you suggest replacing these with real and reusable plates, cups, and utensils?

If you need to make the business case to management to get approval for this, look at how much you spend each year on disposables and compare that to how much it will cost to purchase a set of plates, glasses, and utensils. The change will usually pay for itself in a short period of time.


I just love this sleek, easy-to-use compost bin at my office. Get yours from Compost Winnipeg.

Have you ever considered how much food waste your workplace generates? 

Imagine those large amounts of sandwich crusts, apple cores and coffee grounds get tossed out with the office garbage. These food wastes end up in the landfill and contribute to climate change. Food waste that decomposes in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is at least 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Implementing a composting program in the workplace has more than just environmental benefits. It also promotes a positive company culture by giving your colleagues a sense of purpose. When employees feel they are making a positive impact on the community, environment or world as a whole, engagement increases.


Due to COVID-19 pandemic, majority of businesses were shut down, forcing millions to work from home.

There was a significant change in the atmosphere and greenhouse gas emissions since fewer people go to work. However, since most economies have slowly opened up, these emissions have started to go up again.

By choosing to walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit to the office, we are lowering our emissions.

Green commuting is fun, sustainable, and good for your personal health and well-being. By being aware of why green commuting is a good idea, knowing your options for a sustainable commute, and planning ahead, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a whole new type of healthier commute.


Shift as many of your business purchases as possible to support local and sustainable vendors.

Whether it’s your office purchases, or the caterer that you use for business lunches, supporting local businesses is an important way to keep money circulating within the local economy.

There’s no question that the job market is tight these days, and by shopping local, you are keeping a business open. By shopping local, you are giving people in your own community jobs.

So think about that next time you debate between buying an item at a local shop versus ordering one that is slightly cheaper at a big box store.


The best way to encourage a culture of sustainability at work is to recruit like-minded individuals and create your very own green team!

A green team will give you and your coworkers an opportunity to contribute to the development and implementation of your sustainability initiatives. Make it educational and fun. Way to go!

The Climate Crisis And Climate Of Impunity

While the Duterte administration is ‘delighted’ that nearly half of Filipinos, some 27.3 million, are unemployed, the majority of the population continue to suffer from an extraordinary reality of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lack of government support, poor economic policies and worsening corruption make life more difficult for millions of Filipinos who are already struggling to find employment and bring food on the table.

But for land and environmental defenders, they face a bigger problem: An imminent threat to their lives. They believe that the crisis could be manipulated to put them at even greater risk.

Just last month, Zara Alvarez, Randall “Randy” Echanis and Bae Melda Ansabo were brutally murdered by unidentified assailants.

Zara was a human rights and health worker. Randy was a land defender and peace consultant. Bae Melda was an indigenous leader.

All three suffered merciless deaths.

According to human rights group Karapatan, 185 defenders had been murdered under Duterte administration between 2016 and August 20, 2020.


Communities across the world are standing up to carbon-intensive industries and exposing unsustainable business practices that damage the environment and worsen our climate.

These are the people on the frontline of the climate crisis, trying to protect climate-critical areas and reverse these devastating practices.

Campaigner Ben Leather (centre R) from international rights watchdog Global Witness, along with indigenous peoples, campaigners and their supporters, holds up a newly released human rights report during a press conference in Manila in 2019. Photo: Maria Tan/ AFP

Filipino human rights workers, farmers, indigenous peoples, and land and environment defenders across the country continue to defend their rights, environment and our global climate despite facing violence, threats and criminalization.

They protect forests against mining companies and illegal loggers. They secure and defend the rights to their ancestral lands. Their communities rely on their resilience, strength and determination to keep their communities and environments safe.

But Filipino defenders do not feel safe at all.

In 2019, the independent watchdog Global Witness named Philippines as the most dangerous country in Asia for land and environmental defenders. That year alone, 43 Filipino defenders were murdered.

According to Global Witness, 212 defenders were killed in 2019. Over half of reported killings occurred in just two countries: Colombia and the Philippines. On average, four defenders have been killed every week since December 2015 – the month the Paris Climate Agreement was signed.


Photo: Global Witnesshttps://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/defending-tomorrow/

Violence against land and environmental defenders in the Philippines is a systemic problem. Below are some of Global Witness’ key findings in their report entitled, “Defending Tomorrow: The Climate Crisis and Threats Against Land and Environment Defenders” published in July 2020:

• Global Witness documented 43 Filipino defenders killed in 2019. Six of them were state employees – the highest number of attacks globally against environmental workers employed to protect some of the most iconic landscapes in the Philippines.

• Almost half of the documented murders under Duterte’s government were linked to armed forces or paramilitary groups.

• Individual activists and environmental organisations have been accused of being rebels or communist sympathisers – a practice commonly known as ‘red-tagging’.

• Large numbers of defenders have also been killed on Negros, another heavily militarised region. On the sugar plantations of Negros, police operations and counter-insurgency programmes cracked down on small-scale farming communities, leading to the massacre of 14 farmers in March – many were land rights activists linked to the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW).

• Five months earlier in Negros Occidental, nine farmers, also members of the NFSW, were killed following a harvest.

• 117 Defenders living in Mindanao and Negros made up almost 90% of land and environmental activists murdered in the country in 2019.

• Mining has consistently been linked to attacks against defenders in the Philippines.

• As commercial interests, often backed by the Philippines military, are put before the rights of indigenous communities, the Manobo now face a new threat – a US$800 million China-backed hydropower dam.

• Last year, 85% of reported attacks against land and environmental defenders opposed to agribusiness projects occurred in Asia – making it by far the region with the highest number of killings. Of these, 90% were in the Philippines.


Global Witness offer the following recommendations:

• (President Rodrigo) Duterte’s government must comply with international law and take action to prevent abuses of land rights and of the environment, protect defenders at risk, and hold the perpetrators of intimidation and violence to account.

• Those doing business in the Philippines must also recognise their role in facilitating violence – whether through proactive strategies, turning a blind eye, or simply negligence – and clean up their acts or be held accountable.

• Consumers can play a part too – by demanding that the fruit (food) they buy or the hotel they stay in isn’t associated with bloodshed, and by demanding that their government take a stand to enable those defending their land and our environment to do so without fearing for their lives.

To read the Global Witness’ full report and complete list of recommendations, go to http://www.globalwitness.org.


Global Witness defines land and environmental defenders as “people who take a stand and peaceful action against the unjust, discriminatory, corrupt or damaging exploitation of natural resources or the environment.”

It is the government’s duty, under international law, to guarantee that defenders’ human rights are protected and that they can carry out their activism safely and without fear of retaliation and violence.

But in the face of state-sponsored attacks and violence, we, the people, should unite and work collectively to safeguard human rights and freedom of speech.

As leaders and members of global communities, we have an obligation to raise awareness, urge governments to uphold defenders’ rights, and publicly condemn any threats against them and their communities. We should continue to act in support of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, including the right to a safe climate.

Who Will Defend The Defenders?

Zara Alvarez died on the spot after being shot six times on August 17 as she was heading home after buying food for dinner.

Alvarez, a mother of one, was the former education director of the Philippine human rights alliance, Karapatan. She is also an advocacy officer for Negros Island Health Integrated Program (NIHIP). She is the 13th Karapatan member killed since mid-2016.

A week earlier, Randall “Randy” Echanis, 72, together with Louie Tagapia, was found dead inside his home. He suffered multiple stab wounds and two gunshots to his head.

Echanis was chair of Anakpawis and a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant. Fondly called “Tatang” by his colleagues, Echanis is known for leading causes for agrarian reform. He is credited for his work in helping draft the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

PH Terror Law and war against dissent

Zara Alvarez, a church worker from Negros province in the central Philippines, signs a manifesto signifying her commitment to work for human rights on Aug. 22, 2019. Alvarez was shot dead in Bacolod City on Aug. 17, 2020. (Photo: Mark Saludes)

Individually, they are stories of courage and tragedy. Together, they tell a tale of the “war against dissent” under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The victims shared similar backgrounds. They were both land and human rights defenders. They both worked in activist organizations and had also been subjected to “red-tagging” – a label that often results in harassment or death.

Both murders underscore the widespread impunity for extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. It also shows how the government’s new anti-terrorism law can be misused and used against any and all dissenters.

The Anti-Terrorism Council, the chief enforcer of the law, has the power to designate individuals as terrorists. This council is believed to be composed of some officials who are known for actively engaging in “red-tagging” certain individuals.

Climate crisis and threats against defenders

Defending Tomorrow: The climate crisis and threats against land and environmental defenders (pdf). Image: Global Witness

In 2019, the independent watchdog Global Witness named Philippines as the most dangerous country in Asia for land and environmental defenders. That year alone, 43 Filipino defenders were murdered.

According to Global Witness, 212 defenders were killed in 2019. Over half of reported killings occurred in just two countries: Colombia and the Philippines. On average, four defenders have been killed every week since December 2015 – the month the Paris Climate Agreement was signed.

According to a comprehensive analysis by researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona which was released in June 2020, environmental activists have for years faced high rates of criminalization, physical violence, and extrajudicial killings for their efforts to protect the planet.

The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, found that 20 percent of environmental defenders faced criminal charges or were imprisoned, 18 percent were victims of physical violence, and 13 percent were killed between 2011 and 2019.

Who will defend the defenders?

It is the government’s duty, under international law, to guarantee that defenders’ human rights are protected and that they can carry out their activism safely and without fear of retaliation and violence.

Photo: Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Twitter @kmp_phl)

But in the face of state-sponsored attacks and violence, we, the people, should unite and work collectively to safeguard human rights and freedom of expression.

As leaders and members of global communities, we have an obligation to raise awareness, urge governments to uphold defenders’ rights, and publicly condemn any threats against them and their communities. We should continue to act in support of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, including the right to a safe climate.

A tribute to fallen heroes

I would like to dedicate this space to the 185* defenders who were killed under Duterte administration. Let us remember their names and celebrate their activism by taking a stand to protect life, land, environment and human rights.

  1. Randall “Randy” Echanis
  2. Zara Alvarez
  3. Remar Mayantao
  4. Rogen Suminao
  5. Senon Nacaytuna
  6. Hermi Alegre
  7. Jerry Layola
  8. Jimmy Barosa
  9. Jessybel Sanchez
  10. Gaudencio Bagalay
  11. Emerenciana Dela Rosa
  12. Violeta De Leon
  13. Eligio Barbado
  14. Ariel Diaz
  15. Jimmy Saypan
  16. Joselito Pasaporte
  17. Ramelito Sr. Libria
  18. Jimmy Sotto
  19. Venie Diamante
  20. Alexander Ceballos
  21. Veronico Delamente
  22. Wencislao Pacquiao
  23. Renato Anglao
  24. Matanem Pocuan
  25. Glenn Ramos
  26. Emelito Rotimas
  27. Orlando Eslana
  28. Edweno Catog
  29. Willerme Agorde
  30. Gilbert Bancat
  31. Leonila Pesadilla
  32. Ramon Pesadilla
  33. Billamin Hasan
  34. Pedro Pandagay
  35. Virgilio Balungag
  36. Arman Almonicar
  37. Arlene Almonicar
  38. Cora Lina
  39. Danilo Nadal
  40. Elias Pureza
  41. Bernardo Ripdos
  42. Lolita Pepito
  43. Federico Plaza
  44. Rodolfo Jr. Dagahuya
  45. Daniol Lasib
  46. Ana Marie Aumada
  47. Jessie Cabeza
  48. Lito Casalla
  49. Joseph Baning
  50. Ande Latuan
  51. Meliton Catampungan
  52. Carolina Arado
  53. Silvestre Maratas
  54. Mario Castro
  55. Alberto Tecson
  56. Eddie Alyawan
  57. Rer Timboco
  58. Lomer Gerodias
  59. Oscar Jr. Asildo
  60. Jezreel Arrabis
  61. Dalia Arrabis
  62. Obello Bay-ao
  63. Luardo Yac
  64. Erning Aykid
  65. Reneboy Magayano
  66. Edwin Pura
  67. Arnel Otacan
  68. Webby Sr. Argabio
  69. Perfecto Hoyle
  70. Vivencio Sahay
  71. Apolonio Maranan
  72. Elisa Badayos
  73. Eleuterio Moises
  74. Rodrigo Timoteo
  75. Rolando Moreno
  76. Datu Victor Sr. Danyan
  77. Victor Jr. Danyan
  78. Artemio Danyan
  79. Pato Celarbo
  80. Samuel Angkoy
  81. To Diamante
  82. Mateng Bantal
  83. Rhudy Danyan
  84. Fr. Marcelito Paez
  85. Bernardo Clarion
  86. Jennierose Porras
  87. Edwin Magallanes
  88. Flora Jemola
  89. Aaron Notarte
  90. James Flores
  91. Aniceto Jr. Lopez
  92. Ricky Olado
  93. Ronald Manlanat
  94. Ricardo Mayumi
  95. Emelda Sangquina
  96. Agudo Quillio
  97. Garito Malibato
  98. Jerry Turga
  99. Ariel Maquiran
  100. Carlito Sawad
  101. Beverly Geronimo
  102. Lando Perdicos
  103. JoseUnahan
  104. Nestor Sacote
  105. Arnel Penaso
  106. Julius Barellano
  107. Menyo Yandong
  108. Rolly Panebio
  109. Gilbert Plabial
  110. Jean Plabial
  111. Mariam Acob
  112. Jaime Delos Santos
  113. Victor Villafranca
  114. Cesar Carreon
  115. Rene Laurencio
  116. Morena Mendoza
  117. Marcelina Dumaguit
  118. Angelife Arsenal
  119. Eglicerio Villegas
  120. Paterno Baron
  121. Rannel Bantigue
  122. Danilo Bautista
  123. Benjamin Ramos
  124. Esteban Sr. Empong
  125. Rommel Romon
  126. Linus Cubol
  127. Jesus Isugan
  128. Reneboy Fat
  129. Constancio Languita
  130. Jun Cubul
  131. Jaime Revilla
  132. Demetrio Fat
  133. Nicasio Ebio
  134. Remegio Arquillos
  135. Emel Tejero
  136. Randel Gallego
  137. Sergio Jr. Atay
  138. Randy Felix Jr. Malayao
  139. Emelda Torralba
  140. Roberto Mejia
  141. Sanito Delubio
  142. James Vinas
  143. Jerome Pangadas
  144. Larry Sr. Suganob
  145. Steve Arapoc
  146. Edgardo Avelino
  147. Ismael Avelino
  148. Franklin Lariosa
  149. Bernardino Patigas
  150. Dennis Españo
  151. Felipe Dacal-dacal
  152. Arnie Espenilla
  153. Zando Alcovendas
  154. Pizo Cabug
  155. Ryan Hubilla
  156. Nelly Bagasala
  157. Liovigildo Palma
  158. Nephtali Morada
  159. Lito Itao
  160. Joel Anino
  161. Salvador Romano
  162. Mario Agsab
  163. Ramon Jalandoni
  164. Guiller Casas
  165. Alex Lacay
  166. Jeffrey Bayot
  167. Leah Tumbalang
  168. Nedis Bacong
  169. Angelito Marivao
  170. Nathaniel Tagaylo
  171. Reynaldo Sr. Malaborbor
  172. Emerito Pinza
  173. Romy Candor
  174. Jay-ar Mercado
  175. Marlon Maldos
  176. Jennifer Tonag
  177. Nora Apique
  178. John Farochilin
  179. Jose Reynaldo Porquia
  180. Gilbert Domingo
  181. Japzon Maureen
  182. Allan Aguilando
  183. Jose Catalogo
  184. Froilan Reyes
  185. Julius Giron

*Source: Karapatan

Why I Signed Up To Be A Climate Reality Leader

I am officially a Climate Reality Leader, and I am really excited!

Back in July, I took part in the 9-day Climate Reality Leadership Corps: Global Training.

Around 10,000 participants from around the world took part in the biggest virtual climate training ever.

I am so inspired to join a global community of over 21,000 formerly trained Climate Reality Leaders around the world who are working together to tackle the climate crisis.

I admire Mr. Al Gore, our mentor Heather Wilkins, and the entire The Climate Reality Project organization for all their hard work and support and, most importantly, for making this event a successful one. It was an incredible experience!

What is The Climate Reality Project?

Photo: https://lowcarbonheadington.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Climate-Reality-Project.jpg

The Climate Reality Project is a non-profit organization involved in education and advocacy related to climate change. The Climate Reality Project came into being in July 2011 as the consolidation of two environmental groups, the Alliance for Climate Protection and The Climate Project, both of which were founded by Mr. Al Gore, former US Vice President. Mr. Gore is the Founder and Chairman of The Climate Reality Project.

What I like about the Climate Reality Leadership Corps is that it takes people from all walks of life and makes them exceptional leaders. In this organization, you’ll meet different people – from doctors, scientists, engineers, teachers, to business owners, students, artists, among others.

Climate Reality Leadership Corps takes your commitment to creating a better tomorrow. This organization provides training in climate science, communications, and organizing to inspire communities and spark grassroots action worldwide.

So what inspired me to become a Climate Reality Leader?

So happy to complete my Climate Reality Leadership Training in July 2020.


We know that climate change is real but I sometimes find it difficult to understand or explain the entire concept to other people. The Climate Reality Training is a perfect place to learn the causes and impacts of climate change and how it transforms the daily life for communities around the world. Through this training, you will be able to learn how we can work together to take action and find solutions.


Wanting to make a difference is one thing. Knowing how to really pull it off is another. The Climate Reality Training will teach you powerful storytelling, public speaking, and social media networking techniques and even best practices in grassroots organizing.

This training will also teach you some media engagement strategies, where you can effectively use media outreach to promote an event, spread awareness through an op-ed, letter to the editor, or a televised interview.


Climate Reality Leaders aren’t just raising awareness of climate change. They’re working for climate crisis solutions.

There are days when I feel so discouraged or not motivated. It’s great to know that I am not alone in this fight.

What I truly love about being a Climate Reality Leader is having new friends who share the same passion and vision as me. By joining our organization, you will be able to meet other Climate Reality Leaders and build a network of fellow activists that support you. It truly is inspiring to see how a global community of activists are building momentum for solutions around the world.


Sometimes it is easy to feel lost and discouraged to share your views. The Climate Reality Training has helped me boost my confidence and belief in my own strengths.

As Mr. Al Gore himself said, “Believe in the power of your own voice. The more noise you make, the more accountability you demand from your leaders, the more the world will change for the better.”

Your voice is more powerful than you think. Shout, march, write, blog, sing, dance, paint, holler! Use your creativity to take up space and make your voice heard.


As a new Climate Reality Leader, one of my goals is to encourage more people to become Climate Reality Leaders – especially in the Filipino community.

As Filipino-Canadians, we experience first-hand the effects of climate change here and back home. As the biggest community of people of color in Manitoba, we can effectively make significant change by spreading awareness and influencing public opinion on the environment and climate change issues. Our collective voice can be a powerful force to achieve social and climate justice.

Our Earth is dying and we need your help. I would like to invite you to consider the following:


One of the easiest ways you can do to help spread awareness is to request a Climate Reality Leader to give a virtual or in-person presentation at your school, work or community. You may visit www.climaterealityproject.org or contact me at ecoisthome@gmail.com to schedule a presentation or organize an event.


Train with former US Vice President Al Gore and work with renowned scientists and communicators learning about climate crisis and how together we can solve it.

Due to high demand, a second Global Training is scheduled on August 28 to September 3, 2020. Please visit https://climaterealityproject.org/training for more information.

We don’t have much time left. Please join the global Climate Reality Leaders and millions of people using their voices and everyday choices to address the climate crisis. I hope to connect with you very soon.

I am so excited to lead on climate. What about you?

How To Get Started With Minimalist Lifestyle

Minimalism is not about depriving yourself of owning things – it is more about appreciating what you already have and get only what you need.

By clearing the clutter from our lives, we are able to enjoy our lives to the fullest.

If you are a beginner or somewhere in your journey to simplify your life and are looking for help, you’ve come to the right place!

Here are seven essential steps I did to get started:


Write down all the reasons why you want to start a minimalist lifestyle.

What made you decide to simplify your life? What are the things that matter to you most? What makes you happy?

Your list of goals and priorities should inspire you to keep going and make that big change in your life.


Now that you’ve set your priorities, it’s time to address your material possessions. Think about everything you own and make a list.

Now ask yourself: do these things make your life any better? Do these things help you reach your goals and priorities, or do they just weigh you down? Do they make you happy, or do they cause you unnecessary financial burden?


Start clearing out clutter one place at a time. The best way to do this is to start with the smallest area of your house.

You can begin with a small drawer in your bedroom, the bookshelf in the living room or the kitchen pantry. Then in the next few weeks, you can start working on your closet, your shoes and accessories collection, the bedroom, the kitchen, the garage, and then other areas of your home.

Avoid decluttering multiple spaces at the same time. It can be very overwhelming and stressful and may discourage you from doing it again. Start small and take your time.


Photo by Quang Anh Ha Nguyen on Pexels.com

Like most people, we feel that there’s always something in our life that’s holding us back – the old toys we had kept since we were kids; a basement full of old, broken items we refuse to recycle; a big shelf of sentimental items collecting dusts; a crappy friendship that we can’t seem to get rid of; or a nasty spending habit that we can’t shake off.

Why are we holding on to these things? What if letting go of these things means having a cleaner home, a clearer mind, a less stressful life?

There is no better time to let go than now. Just. Let. Go.


Minimalism was a key component in my own journey towards financial freedom. One of the things that I have gained through this journey is finally being able to improve my spending habit.

We tend to buy more of less important stuff than of things that we truly need. We tend to spend more than what we actually have. We tend to have more clothes than space to accommodate them. We tend to have more time browsing Facebook than spending quality time with our kids.

Why not try living with less and be truly happy, instead of living with stress and plenty of regrets?


Most of the people I know who own big houses, several cars, expensive clothing and jewelries unfortunately live paycheck to paycheck. I used to be like that too.

According to Ipsos’ poll back in 2017, the average Canadian owes $8,539.50 in consumer debt. This amount does not include mortgage debt. The report also states that “the generation that appears to have the most consumer debt is that of the Gen Xers, or people aged 35-54, who report an average debt above $10,000”.

This is a very sad reality of the world we live in and unfortunately, this is very common in the Filipino communities across Canada.

If you are in a big financial trouble, seek help. There are several credit and debt counselling services available in your city – all you need to do is pick up your phone and book your appointment.


If you have done steps 1 to 6, congratulations! Take a break and celebrate your victory!

Embracing a minimalist lifestyle is definitely not an easy road to take, but I assure you it is a worthwhile adventure.

Now that you have come this far, it is important to stay motivated.

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Pexels.com

Remember, a lot of people have done all sorts of declutter and minimalism challenge, however, most of them fell right back into their old bad habits because of lack of determination and discipline.

So if you want to change your life, stick to your plan and keep going. Be consistent and focus on your goals. Do not stop until you’ve achieved the change that you have desired for so long.

What I learned from the past five years is that change will come only if you want it so bad. Your “why” should be greater than your excuses, not the other way around.

Minimalism is a journey. Take the first steps, enjoy each moment and learn from it. Be happy knowing that your journey to living with less lets you do more of what you truly love.