Jing Rey Henderson is the current Communications and Partnerships Development Coordinator of NASSA/Caritas Philippines, but her adventures as an eco-warrior began long before that—20 years to be exact. The province was Sorsogon. Behind its beautiful natural attractions, Jing and her fellow Sorsogueños faced small and large-scale mining companies, pushed away pangulong (illegal fishing) operators, and challenged illegal logging operator. She also got involved, through the Diocesan Commission on Media for Evangelization in Sorsogon, in the campaign against Rapu-Rapu Mining. Henderson then decided it was time to take her involvement one step further. Beyond media, she became a street activist too. The path she chose was dangerous and exhausting but the fact that there were so many others who weren’t giving up in defence of the environment fuels her. “How can I give up when everyone else are doing more than I’m contributing? I have gained so much from the earth, used her up according to my needs. The only thing I can do is repay her with equal fervor by defending her, campaigning for her, and to nurture her as much.”
You could say that Henderson’s passion for nature was passed down to her by her father who would often be seen roaming their barangay carrying what others might call a curious article for an afternoon walk about town. He brought metal stick with a pointed end which he used to puncture and collect litter on the street, especially plastics.“Our backyard would look like a garbage area and my mother would be so angry,” she recalled. “Daddy would just tell Mommy: your children are taking a bath in the well, they swim in the river. We drink from the pump. If we let these trash go to our water source, we will suffer.” Jing and her siblings immediately understood. Eventually, her mother converted to the eco-friendly life as well.
What lessons from your childhood have you learned and carry with you today?
Start young. Caring for the environment is a habit developed over time. When we grow older without having learned the value of it, we develop more reasons and palusot doing the opposite.
What challenges do you see in our current times?
We were slow in coping up and maximizing the gift of technology, and the millennials in advancing our campaigns. The first thing we did was complain about those technology, especially social media is ruining our lives, our young population. It was only later that we were able to see the threat as an opportunity to go forward. For the church especially, COVID and the previous disasters were an awakening and an enlightenment.
What are your commitments in response to Laudato Si’ encyclical?
Key words: faith in actions.
While I campaign online about taking care of our environment as if it is our body, I have committed to do just that especially to my son, Rafael. While we push for divestment from coal and other extractive industries at NASSA/Caritas Philippines, I also share the same with my circle of friends. While we at NASSA/Caritas Philippines eagerly campaigns for food security through natural farming, our garden would be our own contribution.
What kind of world do you want to leave to those who will come after us, to children who are growing up?”
Key words: generational responsibility.
I want my children to still be able to swim rivers, spend their holidays by the sea, play under the rain… just like how I used to when I was growing up. My childhood was full of outdoor activities which was made possible because our place was practically situated in the middle of a healthy ecosystem. I was raised with the trees, the fruits, the flowers, the bees and beetles, the seashells! I want the same for my children, their friends, and everyone else.