ON AND around Earth Day calls were made to protect and preserve the natural habitats (forests and oceans) of animals (especially the endangered kind), to dispose of plastics properly, to go for renewable energy etc.
It was, however, the promotion of Green Architecture that really caught my attention. It jarred me into realizing that Earth Day or the greening of the earth should be first and foremost about providing humans with appropriate habitats.
We talk of preserving the natural habitats of animals when so many of their rational co-inhabitants of earth do not have decent houses. We talk about proper waste disposal when so many of us are forced to eke out a living by scrounging in open dumpsites for waste materials they can sell to recyclers.
I am fine with protecting the natural habitats of animals. But how about protecting humans, the poor and marginalized among us, from the weather and from disease by providing them with decent livable houses complete with potable running water and sanitary waste disposal facilities?
Section 18 of Republic Act (RA) 7279 as amended by RA 10884 requires developers of subdivisions and condominiums to develop an area for socialized housing equivalent to 15 percent of the subdivision area or five percent of the condominium area.
At the rate high-end subdivisions and condominiums are sprouting all over the place, the socialized housing portion of these developments should be clearly visible by now. But where is it? It seems that Section 18 of RA 7279 as amended by RA 10884 is honored by developers more in the violation than in the compliance.
More to the point, I just can’t see how a marginalized family living in a nondescript structure that pretends to be a house can relate to talks about Green Architecture for commercial and residential buildings. How can they relate to Green Architecture when they don’t even have a house worthy of humans? Anyway, if ever, Green Architecture must also be used for the socialized houses developers are obliged by law to put up.
The provision for socialized housing for marginalized Filipinos cannot be anything less than the core activity of any greening program in this country. We certainly don’t want green commercial and residential buildings to be surrounded by the lean-tos of the poor. It is aesthetically ugly and, more importantly, ethically abominable.
The most endangered species on earth is homo sapiens. The rich are killing themselves with their excesses while the poor who don’t have excess of anything are dying from homelessness, hunger and disease.
This injustice is what is endangering earth’s existence. Earth Day should remind us that earth can survive without us whereas we cannot survive without earth.