April 27, 2018, 12:57 pm
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1 Philippine Peso = 1 Philippine Peso
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Gina Lopez of the Ananda Marga

NOW comes tokhang, expecting priests to go along to get shot at during police-druggie confrontations? Won’t happen. Most parish priests would ask to be left alone to do their usual.

***

If anyone should dislike the presence of Gina Lopez in this mining upheaval, it should be this writer. My little savings which I mistakenly put into Nickel Asia and Philex are
gone, down the drain. 

But I have no resentment, having read up and understood the good that DENR’s Secretary Lopez is doing is for the exploited poor; her good plans for the least amongst us.

These are the laboring miners who are receive a tiny fraction of the yields for the billionaires’ and foreign-owned mines. These are the mine slaves on a two meals a day existence, and who regularly get buried alive in sloppily-managed mines. 

Along the Amazon River where I lived in the mid-60s were bauxite mines. Brazil red bauxite is the raw material of your kitchen tinfoil. The miners, their families, children, babies living in the area are covered with red dust: their hair, eyelashes, skin were red; and of course red dust in their nostrils, throats. Red bauxite dust too lining their alvioli, giving the lungs almost always a short health existence.

The mine executives, about 200 expat families from the US, some of whom I got to meet, live very far away from the red dust, way out at the other side of the mountain.

I have never bought nor used tinfoil since. I get goose pimples whenever I see tinfoil, remembering those humans laboring at bauxite mines of South America so kitchens can have tinfoil.

DENR’s Gina Lopez tells us about herself in press releases: 

She did her baccalaureate in the US. “Like all institutions, one has a goal, but often what happens is something else… I grew up in a bubble where people were good and loving and true. This results in a naiveté about people and life.” Gina developed an interest in meditation. Looking for something which she could not find in the externals of organized religion, she became a yoga missionary, left home at 18 and became an Ananda Marga missionary, travelling to Portugal, India and Africa; living in a slum area in Kenya for two years to doing all the chores on her own. It was through this experience that she learned not to be wasteful, how to be persistent, how to adapt, and the
“value of being a Filipino....The camaraderie inherent in the race is amazing. Wherever I would go, as long as there was a Filipino, they would help me.”

Gina Lopez forsook family, friends, and a privileged life to embrace a life of poverty in Kenya with the Ananda Marga. In Africa, the basic responsibilities of an Ananda Marga yoga missionary are to teach yoga-run, pre-primary schools and children in homes for the underprivileged. The slogan is ‘Service to humanity is service to God’.

Which brings back to this writer one admirable encounter with the ethics of Ananda Marga. During a killer storm in 1972, living at the top floor of Carmen Dewey, my family watched in horror from our 9th floor, as shanties were drowned by huge waves from behind the Cultural Center. I watched shanties swept back into the ocean, carrying in them people living in those makeshift homes. Some swam back to land; most drowned. We watched volunteers swim out to rescue those who managed back to land. I sent words that we had some food for the victims. Turned out that those volunteers were Ananda Marga.

That team of a dozen Ananda Marga teenagers walked up 10 floors (no electricity, no elevator) to pick up from my kitchen pots of cooked rice, kanin; walked down 10
floors, to deliver this food to the hungry victims along Dewey Boulevard. There was no other food left in my kitchen but bigas. Up the 10 floors; down the 10 floors; these Ananda Marga teens went, nonstop, for 2 days, as fast as we could cook the kanin on our LPG. They lagged the hot pots down to the hungry victims across Roxas
Boulevard. Until we ran out of bigas two days later. I never saw them again for we left shortly after for another country assignment, when martial law was declared. My admiration for the Ananda Marga is forever in my mind and heart. 

Gina Lopez later moved on to be the lead convener of anti-mining group Save Palawan Movement, a multi-sectoral coalition of concerned environmental, legal, religious, and other civic groups that opposes mining activities. “I remember the representatives of Nagkakaisang Tribu ng Palawan (Natripal) regale us with their interaction with her during the annual meeting of the Non-Timber Forest Products-Exchange Programme-Philippines.” a journalist reported.

Gina Lopez returned to Manila, worked with the ABS-CBN Foundation and headed the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission. She organized several philanthropic projects for ABS-CBN Foundation – among them the popular anti-child abuse movement ‘Bantay Bata’; aside from helping the poor, taking care of the environment became her passion.

***

Dahliaspillera@yahoo.com
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