It has come to this: a digestible listicle, not only because it’s easily manufactured, but it’s also easily digestible for consumers.
This is just us looking back in the year past, and what praxes we did to make our local spaces a bit better. We acknowledge that our contributions cannot reach a lot of people. Some items on the list may have been born out of a need to achieve a certain lifestyle. And yet, we make do with what we have, laying the foundations for posterity.
We enumerate the following in no particular order of importance:
1. Journaled (almost) daily
More accurately, I have been journaling (almost) daily for five years now!
Journaling has helped me get organized. Through it, I have structured my thoughts, so that I may share whatever insights I might have with others. Since it became my brain dump, my mental space has improved, gaining more capacity to introspect and ponder.
What can be improved: I need give more time to journaling; it’s my space, after all, for processing what I have been thinking.
2. Worn mask whenever out and about
When Taal Volcano erupted, ashfall got to our region. We needed to wear face masks, aside from closing all openings, to avoid inhaling dust and sulfur that’s being swept all the way from Batangas.
Little did we know that this would be our tutorial stage for getting used to wearing a mask, and much later on, a face shield.
We can’t complain, though. It’s literally one of the small ways we can do to not spread the plague.
Some time between then and now, we made our own cloth face masks. The switch was necessary because of two major things:
- reusability, which definitely lessened our use of disposable surgical masks;
The second one is worth highlighting. Our DIY face masks did not have elastic bands that go over the ears which are known to cause massive discomfort after some time of wearing. Instead, we replace them with loose-ended strings that the user can knot into a comfortable tightness. There are good YouTube tutorials if you want to make one of these.
What can be improved: If we’re going to endure more of the COVID pandemic, we need to convince more people to switch to reusable face masks. At this point, disposable face masks should only be reserved for special cases, say, for medical frontliners.
3. Gotten away from Microsoft Windows and into Unix-like operating system
Well, not quite. I still use Windows for work. But whenever I do nowadays, it’s always an unpleasant experience. I guess my point here is that, I don’t use Windows outside of work.
Anyway, the transition was easy enough for me, because I chose a beginner-friendly Linux distribution.
Since then, I’ve tried out four different Linux distros, and one BSD. Different distros have different philosophies behind them, and personally, it’s important that I’m aligned with the majority of those philosophies.
What can be improved: Educate more people about the need to boycott proprietary software. The transition to (mostly) free and open source software (FOSS) need not be disenchanting.
4. Limited use of disposable plastic bags and containers
When a lot of items are packaged for convenience, it’s hard to approach zero waste, but certainly it’s not impossible. Once you get into the habit, it gets easier. You start remembering to bring your own utensils, your own water bottle, your own bags and containers. You start being mindful of your purchases, especially if the one you’re thinking of buying is wrapped in single-use packaging.
What can be improved: Show to people that reducing our waste is doable. But more importantly, we need to make our voices louder when calling out manufacturers for creating unnecessary packaging. We need to make them accountable for the damage they continue to cause by exploiting our natural resources.
5. Chosen (almost always) public transportation
I know that not a lot of people can do this, ‘yung makipag-balyahan. It can get very problematic, especially for marginalized people.
Over the years, I have gotten more stoic when it comes to dealing with different people in public spaces, especially in transportation.
Mas lubog na ako sa masa, ‘ika nga nila (LOL 😂).
On a more serious note, not choosing to have my own car is becoming a “radical” idea. It seems that it’s becoming more of a necessity, especially with the kind of poor public transpo we have. And yet, whenever possible, I choose public because it’s less environmentally destructive, and cheaper.
What can be improved: Get into the bike game already! Cycling can (though, it doesn’t need to) be expensive, yes, but even the best setups are still way less expensive than buying and maintaining a car. Convince more people to be cyclists. When more people are riding, others will start paying more attention.
6. More frequent physical exercises
Getting into high intensity interval training (HIIT) this year has improved my health. My skin has even cleared up a bit. The key, I believe, is in the consistency.
What can be improved: Do more HIITs, and a little longer, too, to build stamina. Convince others to do the same. Health is wealth, sabi nga.
7. Gained back time during work
It’s when you do anything but work during work hours. I’m a big proponent of anti-work, if you can’t already tell.
I’m lucky, though, to be able to ‘lax, because nobody is really over my shoulder to tell me what to do or not to do. Besides, the pandemic has forced a lot of companies to shift their operations to a work-from-home setup. This further enabled my slacking.
The same is not true for many people, especially the blue-collar workers, and frontliners.
The time I gained, I try to reallocate to other endeavors (or praxes, if you will).
What can be improved: Learn more about how to organize in workplace. It’s about time I share my perspective with my colleagues and see if we can do something big together, in the context of toppling the existing structures in the corporate world.
8. Joined and (virtually) met groups of causes I care about
Imagining a society altogether different from this one can be done by my lonesome, sure. I can even an act on some small, impactful ways without asking others to do the same.
But building a better future must be done in cooperation with like-minded people. The social bonds that we form along the way are what will sustain us in the long haul.
When it’s finally safe to have congregation, it’s best to actually meet them in person. I think bonds form stronger that way.
What can be improved: Listen and learn. Contribute more to the discussions. Share my aspirations. Break free from the comfort zone and be more sociable. But don’t forget that we are all different humans with different sensibilities.
9. Shared what we can
We’re neither in poverty (thankfully) nor in prosperity, but whenever we can, we donate:
- money, to the causes we believe in;
- our service, if we have the know-how; or
- our time, simply, when being there is enough.
Giving back to the community is an enriching process that I recommend everyone should start doing.
What can be improved: Share more! Give more! But don’t forget that it’s also okay to ask for help.
10. Started this blog!
The blog’s first post is a poem that somebody made that I like. It’s more of a test post to see if everything is working as it should. I decided not to take it down to remind myself of that commemorative day.
This platform has become my way of publicly learning about the advocacies I’m currently practicing. I don’t know for sure if anyone ever visits here, but this is me thinking out loud. You, dear reader, if you’re there, are more than welcome to listen and share.
What can be improved: More thought-out articles, maybe? More thought-provoking, innovative? Work on my “voice,” and how it can be used for a more compelling narrative.
11. Organized the local neighborhood to tackle a pressing issue
Without going into much details, we organized the people here to complain about the unwanted sprouting of a nearby construction. Its unannounced emergenced disrupted the quiet neighborhood. Banding together has made our voices heard by the so-called people-in-charge. The positive outcome is that we now know more of each other than before! We now greet each other in the streets. What was once a lane full of strangers is now filled with a spirit of friendly good-fellowship.
What can be improved: Know more about the neighbors. Get in touch with them. Share ulam. Be sociable whenever possible. We have to look out for each other, and not just rely on authorities to watch our backs.
12. Low utility bills
Having low (monthly) utility bills could mean a lot of things. To us, it means being more mindful of when to use water or electricity. It means changing our habits that help the environment, while not giving away too much of comfortability.
We use washing machine, but we (a) always choose the “economy” setting, and (b) we try to wash our clothes once a week.
Our refrigerator is an inverter-type one.
We don’t have an air conditioning unit, but when next summer rolls, and the heat bears on down too much, we just might consider buying one. If we do, we would opt for an inverter-type, and use it only whenever it gets too hot.
We don’t have a TV, so probably that helps, too!
Our monthly electric consumption averages on 80 kWh, while our monthly bill fluctuates between 8-10 cubic meters. Not bad.
What can be improved: Admittedly, designing a sustainable life amid the convergence of capitalism and COVID pandemic pushes back hard on us. While we think of better ways to live our lives, for now we pat ourselves in the back for doing (what we think is) the bare minimum.
13. Started our own garden
It’s not much, but it’s something. Our main goal for now is to try understanding as much as we can about plants, so we can better be plant parents. With things going on around us, though, we sometimes can’t allot time to face our leafy friends.
What can be improved: Be more patient. Plants need some attention and care when starting out. It pays to learn as much as we can now, no matter how steep the curve is, so that when we finally start our own permaculture in the future, all will go according to plan.
14. Composted more
This year, we reduced our food waste through composting. Our setup started simple. We put a large pot in our dirty kitchen, which would catch most plant-based food waste every after meal [prep]. A smaller pot is dedicated to receive animal-based food waste like bones and fat. We cover the waste with enough dirt, so it’s ready to catch the next batch.
We even tried bokashi composting once. It involved a lot of waiting for the compost to ferment.
Much, much later, we got our hands on vermicomposting, after getting our own batch of African nightcrawlers. And their numbers have kept growing since!
What can be improved: As with gardening, we need to be more patient when dealing with our compost pits. Not that composting is hard. It’s just that it needs some attending to from time to time. It would also be nice if we can convince more people in the neighborhood to do the same with their food wastes.
15. More plant-based diet
We won’t be turning vegans soon, but we try to incorporate more plant-based food in our diet. Some of the worthy by-products of this choice are:
- less cooking time, meaning less carbon footprint;
- more food waste to compost and/or feed our worms
What can be improved: Lessen our processed meat consumption. We know it’s bad, but the convenience is too good sometimes. Share what recipes works for us with others, and learn some other vegan recipes from them as well.
16. Read theory
This year has radicalized a lot of people, including me. It helps to learn from dedicated leftist forums and publications.
My favorite, The Anarchist Library, has probably the most diverse collection of radical politics and philosophy. It’s the obvious go-to for me when I want to catch up on some things. It also has some great tools, like building your own book from articles you personally curate.
What can be improved: Read more! There are a lot of angles to a far-left idea, and it’s worth taking it all into consideration. Share perspectives with other like-minded people on some pressing issues.
17. Learned some things for the sake of learning
The current system urges us to commodify our passion and to monetize our skills. We owe it to the society to “give back.” Of course, in this context, it really means “to sell one’s soul in order to survive.”
To take the opposite path now would surely puzzle some folks, but it’s what I did. I have learned a few things here and there, just because I’m able too. I don’t care whether it would advance my career. At this time, it doesn’t matter.
I’ve noticed that this way, the knowledge sticks better and longer when there’s no motive-driven institution pressuring me to do it. Shouldn’t education be like this—liberating?
What can be improved: “Theory without practice is dead,” as the saying goes. Information must be converted to knowledge, and knowledge to useful application. This is the synthesis that I must learn more about!
Initially, this list is intended to have 20 items on it, but we decided not to force it.
Naubusan na ng idea!
We hope to get into more praxes next year!
We welcome any recommendations, suggestions!
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