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The Merits and Joys of Walking

Jocelyn R. Uy’s article “Go green to beat back school blues” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 6/5/08) was a most interesting read. Its having been printed on the front page speaks of the Inquirer’s utmost concern for the Filipino family and responsiveness to the issue of environmental protection.

The article enumerated the Ecowaste Coalition’s creative and practical tips on how parents and their children can save money during the school season and, at the same time, help save the environment. As a person who thoroughly enjoys walking very long distances, I was especially pleased with the 13th and last tip: “Arrange car pool with friends or neighbors to save on gas; walk or bike with your children to school if possible.”

>From elementary to high school, I was very dependent on our family car to bring my brothers and me to and from the Jose Abad Santos Memorial School (JASMS) in Quezon City, in West Triangle Homes. I remember how, on a few occasions when our parents were using the car, the three of us would impatiently wait for hours in school to be fetched. It was in college that I very belatedly realized that I was quite spoiled when it came to the use of our car, since our house is only a 15-minute walk away from JASMS. Imagine how much gasoline we would have saved if we all just hiked back home every day during those many years.

So now that I’m a teacher at JASMS, I compensate for my past impracticality by walking, walking, walking. It’s something that I’ve also recommended to my students who live in nearby areas like Project 7, San Francisco del Monte, Barangay Bungad, Nayong Kanluran, the Scout Area, Pagasa BLISS housing behind the SM North EDSA mall, etc. In separate instances, I even gave some of them detailed directions on the safe and relatively pollution-free routes they could take going home, estimating as well the short time they would spend walking from school.

Unsurprisingly, some of them disagreed that the distance from the school to their respective homes was “just a short walk.” They probably thought that I have a distorted sense of “near” and “far.”

But, oh, how I wish that, at this early stage in their lives, students realize the health and social benefits of walking. This activity develops our stamina and physical fitness. Walking, especially in a relaxed pace, allows our minds to think, reflect and imagine. It also gives us the opportunity to observe, discover and perhaps appreciate certain things in life (smelling the flowers) that we literally ignore, which we would otherwise be unable to experience if we were riding a car, bus, jeep or taxi. We become more familiar with the locations of some places and our environment in general. Parents and their children also get the chance to bond when they walk together. And not to forget, we save money and help protect the environment by not contributing to the emission of gas.

Here’s hoping that this letter brings out the walker in many of you.


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