Jan 29, 2012

Hello, Environment!

Kids will be kids, and they often ask questions that leave adults stumped. While watching a rerun of Wall-E not so recently, they expectedly stayed glued to the screen all throughout the movie, laughed at the funny antics of the characters, and jumped up and down  in delight at every good part. They enjoyed it immensely and at the end of it, asked this question: "Why did the Earth become like that, you know, like, all covered in garbage?"

I was nonplussed, needless to say. Wall-E was just another animated movie for children. It's an offering from Pixar about a robot that inhabited the Earth after it was covered in tons of garbage and man no longer lives in it.  The location in the movie is a future Earth that is not a good environment for children.  The movie had all the goods -- good graphics animation, great characters, fascinating dialogues, and a very interesting plot -- but it had something more: a message to kids about the perils of not taking care of the planet.  And more than that, it also carried a warning to parents that, if we don't take care of it ourselves today, there won't be much of an environment for children in the future.

I did quick parent duty and answered the question as best as I could, but at the back of my mind something nagged. Fact: children nowadays are TV-bound but are still clearly analytical. Fact: the world they live in now is a far cry from the world we parents knew when we were still children. Fact: We parents should really do something about it.

So when two other movies made it through our rerun agenda -- Madagascar and The Wild -- and both of them about the environment too, it's time to hit the trails and have a little meet-and-greet with nature.

With a promise to show them a little bit of the "wilds" that Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, and Melman the Giraffe encountered in the island of Madagascar, we took off to nearby Mount Makiling. 

Wearing jogging pants and sturdy rubber shoes, we drove past the entrance to the National Arts Center and took the road going towards the Pook ni Mariang Makiling site. We left our vehicle at the entrance to the Jamboree site camp grounds and began walking.  Beyond is the waiting environment for children to explore.

The lush rainforest enclosed us immediately. The silence was deafening but pleasant, broken only by the wind rustling through tree leaves and the excited chatter of our children. Ohs, and ahs, and wows!  As if in welcome, the trees stood proudly, gigantic and conveying their antiquity -- regal beings in this environment for children to marvel upon.  And the children were indeed appropriately awed. They haven't seen the likes of such vast works of nature until then.

It seemed Mother Nature had prepared an extravagant show of the environment for children to enjoy.  We saw a lot of unique plants, strange rocks, and interesting structures as we continued our unhurried walk. There were tiny streams of water running through cracks on the earth. The children saw large spider webs and started at the sound of birds and crickets chirping nearby. They were disappointed not to meet a single lion, however, despite explaining to them that no lion lives in this mountain. 

It was a pleasant sojourn. Everything was new to them, but they took to it like ducks to water. We did not preach about the environment (they were too young for it), but instead just allowed them to soak it in, to be in communion with nature by themselves, and allow them to process the experiences they had that afternoon on their own.  

We picked that site for its relative safety particularly to children. It was still part of the Makiling Forest Reserve and very close to "civilization". Yet it has all the elements for a quick study of the environment -- a perfect environment for children.

As long as we feel a wave of pity for children who may no longer have the privilege to experience many of nature's gifts -- walk on rainforests, fish on pristine rivers, inhale fresh air and the like -- let us not stop bringing them closer to the environment.  For it may be gone before we know it.

But as long as we parents work on protecting our natural resources today, we are assured that there will certainly be an environment for children in the future.


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