On 5 May 2017, the Commission of Appointments (CA) rejected Gina Lopez as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The decision to choose big business interests over someone with the chutzpah to go after big mining companies for destroying the environment and communties disappointed environmentalists all over the country.

3 days later— 9 Greenpeace Philippines activists blockaded DENR's gates to protest the continued corporate interests over our natural resources and care for our environment. Among the 9 activists were Virginia, Kristina, and Amalie. They are environmentalists. They are mothers. They are our #reSISTERS. And these are their stories.



VIRGINIA

I was born and raised in a conservative and patriarchal family.  My father’s words were cast in stone that no member of the family dared break the rules.

The upheaval about Martial Law came about during my college days. But my political awakening was suppressed. My father’s rule that time was to never join political protests. “Never” was super emphasized: all caps, highlighted and bold.

For him, minding other peoples’ business is not our business.  “Let them be, and they will let you be,” his mantra.  

And so I held my peace.

It is true that the things inculcated to you when you were young rests in the core of your being. When I heard about the non-appointment of Gina Lopez as DENR Secretary I was angry. Part of me still wants to listen to my father but a bigger part is struggling, resisting.

I barely know Gina and I could not attest to her professionally and personally. My anger is not about her; it is about the system that allows corporate interest over the protection of this environment. Something is terribly wrong in the system. I resent it, I cannot just stay on the sidelines. Ranting on social media is not enough. Now is the time to break my fathers’ rule.

I joined the blockade at the DENR gates because it is something I can do – my small contribution to change the system.

I am a mother of two.  My son, who is now 23, facilitates youth camps that encourages young people to take part in making this world a better place. Unlike my father, I support him.  

My daughter is only six and has yet to understand things.  When she saw the blockade, she cried, “it is so sad, don’t show me that video again.”

I shut the video, like what my daughter said. But to my mind, I will not be like my father. I will not shield my daughter from the reality.  One day soon, I will make her understand that nothing could be sadder than people not taking action when they can.



KRISTINA

A few months ago, as we were driving home, my 5-year-old son asked me what was being constructed along the highway. I explained to him that it’s an ongoing MRT railway project. Initially he got excited because he enjoys riding trains. Then he asked, “but Nanay what’s going to happen to the trees? Are they going to cut it down? Can we do something?” I was surprised to hear those words from him. His eagerness to do something about the trees struck me. At that moment I wished I had the same willingness and excitement that he had.

I haven’t been very vocal about any social, political and environmental issues for quite some time. It wasn’t because I didn’t care. I guess my energy was consumed with everything that was happening in our country and the rest of the world that I just decided to be quiet for a while. But when the CA decision came out rejecting the appointment of Gina Lopez as DENR Secretary I felt that I had to end my silence. I felt the same eagerness to do something that my son had. And I knew that joining the blockade at the DENR was the right thing to do.
After the activity, I learned from my mom that she received calls and messages from family friends and relatives back in the province who were worried about me. Some were shocked to see me in the news. There were some who asked why I had to join and why did I not let someone else do it.

My answer is simple. I had to do it because I owe it to my kids. The decision to start a family six years ago was a commitment that I made not only with my husband but also with our future children. It meant working hard to ensure that our kids will have safe and healthy planet to live in.

Defending DENR is not just about the non-appointment of Gina Lopez. It’s not about me wanting to be a hero or something. It’s about standing up against the greedy businesses and individuals who are trying to control the government/us. We all have a right to a safe and healthy environment. And we all have to work hard and make sacrifices in order to reclaim that right.



AMALIE

My parents lived for their children. While we were aware of their expectations – do good in school, be kind, respect your elders – we were also given enough space to explore and experience things on our own that would help shape our opinion of things.

In my younger years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel so I have been exposed to environmental and social issues (among others) that I have either witnessed or experienced on my own. Traveling showed me how beautiful our world is, how powerful active citizenship could be and that change, any change really, is in the collective power of individuals.

I participated as a frontline activist during our blockade at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) because I knew I couldn’t ask volunteers to do something that I wasn’t willing to do myself. I’ve always lived by this principle and I know that whenever a situation calls for it, I will be there.

Being a mother, I now live for my children too.  And I fight for their right to live in a planet that will allow them to know what if feels like to swim in clear oceans and rivers, to breathe clean fresh air and experience nature at its purest.

Many years ago, someone asked me this: why do you do what you do (referring to my activist lifestyle)? Do you do it because you see yourself as some sort of a savior for your country, of the world?

My answer is simple. No. I do it for my children and their future children. I am here for the generations yet to come from those that I love the most. I am here not to save the world. I’m just here to save two things. My family and yours.

See you at the frontlines.