COVID-19 thoughts: An opportunity for renewal

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It goes without saying that we’ve already entered a ‘new normal’. Nowadays, the best we can do to help is by staying at home and helping wherever we can. In my case, I hope sharing my personal thoughts online would help give the assurance that no one is alone, and that we’re all going through this together one way or another.

In the Philippines, we’re past day 50 now ever since the ‘enhanced community quarantine‘ was imposed. For many Filipinos, however, it still feels like not many has changed. The number of confirmed cases has already reached beyond 10,000, and a plethora of political issues remain despite the threat of the pandemic. Recently, one of the biggest media organizations in the country was shut down by the government.

I know what you’re probably thinking — so what’s the point of still talking about all the horrible things happening? Shouldn’t we focus instead on what can be done? Well, for one, not talking about the things that are happening would show that we have a neutral and disinterested stand. So, in a way, we’re still making a stand by not making a stand. The reality, however, is that by doing so, we’re only further enabling the oppressors and horrible things happening. So if you ask me, yes, we should be taking the right and informed stand in times like this.

Anyway, that’s not the point of this entry. I want to focus our attention on the future, something that not many of us have the luxury to do because at this time, we’re caught into compromising and doing a lot of risk management for our organizations and personal endeavors. What does our future hold when things finally start to stabilize?

One thing is for sure — we cannot go back to how we originally spent our lives. The photo below, I think, encapsulates this thought. As I was writing this entry, this photo is being randomly shared across social media. There are actually many others like this photo, but I think this one hits the spot.

“To stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.” One of the basic human values, according to Shalom Schwartz, is universalism. It involves the understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature. Schwartz and many scholars, however, state that people do not recognize these needs until they encounter others beyond their primary group and until they become aware of the scarcity of natural resources. In other words, people only begin to understand their coexistence with other people and with nature when they themselves become inconvenienced by certain circumstances.

And we see this happening today when the pandemic struck across the world. We’re realizing that oh, we actually need to coexist. But up to how far can this realization go? Will it merely be just another social media trend in the ‘Wishful Thinking’ segment?

By no means am I an expert, but one of the things that surely needs to change is the way we view money. Let me explain.

For a long time, we have perceived money as something that allows us to engage in life’s pleasures and hedonistic activities. This is correct, and nothing can take that away from us. But what if humanity were to reach the ‘final’ tipping point — the point of no return? When will be the time that we acknowledge that consumerism has reached its peak, at least in an international sense (note that mostly only developed countries have reached this so-called peak), and that a new order has to come into play?

Money has always been about things like buying power and increasing the gross domestic product. And this is something that we shouldn’t demonize nor impose malice upon. Our concern should be — what if this constant need to become rich affects other aspects of life? Like the environment, our mental health, and personal relationships. What, then, becomes of humanity?

Many think tanks and smarter people have expressed this thought so much better than how I’m doing it here. But the pending dilemma remains: Only when we learn to align our ambitions and constant need for wealth toward the genuine advancement of humanity will we truly become ‘good’ people. Imagine if it’s a common thought for money to be grown so that we can plant trees across the world, or if money is used to grow businesses that have a social cause and not merely maximizing profit for stakeholders. Of course, this is clearly wishful thinking, but what if?

Money is not bad. Nor is it good. It’s basically a ‘vehicle’ for day-to-day transactions. It almost feels like a form of language. Like what you probably heard already before, it’s not money that becomes bad, but the way people use it. In essence, people are also neither good nor bad (this statement can be quite debatable), but the actions they partake in dictate whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people. So when we earn money, it’s important that we think about where and how it will be spent. This is, I think, one of the ‘new normal’ that we should be taking into account: Our perception of money. It is, after all, our chance for renewal as we go towards more uncertain times.


Hi! I’m Ian. In this blog, I share my personal stories and hopes for the world. Let’s take the conversation forward! Email me at ianbrmia@gmail.com for collaborations.

Ways you can be a sustainable backpacker

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I went backpacking in Vietnam this month. It was short-lived, though, because of the coronavirus. Nonetheless, now that my trip’s over (for now), it gave me an idea or two about sustainable travel as a backpacker. This is not an extensive list, and by no means am I an expert traveler, but here’s what I have in mind and what I want to share with you.

Pack light

More than just a way to make your trip more convenient, packing light has benefits also in terms of the fuel efficiency of transportation. For instance, the reason why airlines limit the capacity of your check-in baggage to usually seven kilograms is because they’re trying to fill in the maximum quota or weight for all the things being transported by the plane — which includes people and baggage. Less weight would, in turn, help the airplane achieve better fuel efficiency. So whenever you travel, pack light as much as you can!

Avoid water bottles at all costs

When traveling, one of the essentials is drinking water to stay hydrated. While not all countries provide water refilling stations, it’s best to lessen or at best avoid buying water bottles. In Vietnam, for instance, it’s only seldom that you’ll come across water refilling stations. In that case, don’t buy too many water bottles. Or if you can, wait until you find a water refilling station. Some hostels and homestays provide them for free.

Turn off the air conditioner

This should go without saying, but if no one else is in your hostel room or you’re the last to leave, it’s always best to turn off the air conditioner. It will save electricity as well as the bills of the hostel!

Don’t buy unnecessary things

This probably works for me, but not for everyone else. Let’s face it, everyone wants to buy a certain something, like a souvenir, whenever they travel. But apart from saving your wallet and lessening the weight of your bag, not buying too many things can also be helpful in the long run in terms of waste management. More often than not, the things we buy would probably just end up in a landfill. In that case, I believe the best souvenirs you can get from a place are the photos and memories you make.

Walk, walk, walk

If the place you’re going to is just near, then walk! My personal rule of thumb is that if I can go towards that certain place for less than an hour, then I can just walk it. There’s plenty of things to see along the way, anyway. Walking, apart from being good to our health, also helps us lessen our contribution to carbon emissions brought by riding public transportation. So when you get the chance, walk a lot when traveling.

Avoid straws

We’re probably aware of this by now. Do away with the straws! Although sometimes we tend to forget and once the server brings us our drinks, there’s already a straw placed inside our glass. In that case, I’d honestly just continue using it. It’s already a lost case. So the best thing to do next time is to bring your own bamboo or metal straw and inform the server that you’ll be using that instead. That, or just don’t use straws. Seriously — you can drink straight from the glass, anyway.

Make sure you’re joining a ‘sustainable’ tour

I’m against any tour that involves elephants. In Thailand, for instance, they have elephant sanctuaries. They seem innocent and harmless at first, but the reality is that these elephants are formerly part of circus acts, where they’re usually whipped or ‘forced’ to entertain people. If you want to help the elephants, it would be best to avoid any elephant-related tour as much as possible. By doing so, you’re reducing the demand for such tours or forms of entertainment, thereby helping eliminate its demand in the future.

But of course, this barely touches the surface of ‘sustainable’ tours. If you’re going to find a ‘sustainable’ tour, make sure it has none or at least minimized environmental impact as much as possible.

These are what I have in mind. As I go on to more backpacking adventures, I’m sure to find more tips!


Hi! I’m Ian. In this blog, I share my personal stories and hopes for the world. Let’s take the conversation forward! Email me at ianbrmia@gmail.com for collaborations.

The sustainability dialogue behind the coronavirus

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Photo by huntlh at Pixabay


The Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, has cost a lot of panic and hysteria across the world. From closures of national borders, panic-buying of face masks, down to the revelation that outbreaks can even cause racism — this event has shown a lot of humanity’s sides in just a span of a few weeks.

But out of this outbreak, there are many important, life-and-death-related things that we’re also learning.

The road to a universal flu vaccine

For one, the world is now even more focused on creating a universal flu vaccine. As the 2019-nCoV spread and infected people across the world, scientists have been analyzing the virus and are recently creating breakthroughs.

The road to a universal flu vaccine still seems far off, but we’re on the way there. One of the many organizations working to develop this vaccine is Distributed Bio. As stated in their website, they are creating “a new paradigm in antibody engineering and broad-spectrum vaccine design“.

Once a universal flu vaccine is created, we no longer have to worry much about being sick during flu seasons. Imagine a world with much less instances and deaths from flu viruses. Believe it or not, flu viruses are extremely common and seen everyday. It can be fatal for people with very weak immune systems.

Viruses are constantly evolving into new strains. And we haven’t even discovered all the different types of viruses in the world. This means that we should rather be giving more attention to developing a vaccine. The medical sector should move and develop vaccines as fast as how viruses mutate — but only with the help of world leaders.

Ancient viruses living in ice and permafrost

Humans have been living alongside bacteria and viruses throughout evolution. From the bubonic plague to smallpox, we have probably experienced it all — sadly, the reality is that we still haven’t. We probably haven’t even experienced the worst yet.

Don’t forget that there are many bacteria and viruses currently buried in ice and permafrost. With the current rate of the climate crisis, this could get worse and melt the ice and permafrost. If and when they melt, we will potentially have even more public health emergencies of international concern.

This is exactly why the climate crisis should be of paramount concern, because it practically affects every living fiber and being imaginable in the planet. It should not be taken lightly at all costs.

Mobilizations on national scales

Many countries are now implementing critical measures to contain and avoid the further spread of the coronavirus. They’re working extremely fast to protect their citizens.

Even the World Health Organization has now declared this outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. The declaration took a bit of time because it typically requires a huge amount of money and resources, and may also invoke governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries. Moreover, the declaration imposes more disease reporting requirements on countries. Simply put, there are a lot of logistical, political, and financial concerns, among others, before you can sufficiently declare an outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

One of the biggest concerns is that countries with weak public health systems are the most vulnerable to this outbreak. Ill-prepared countries are also a big challenge.

In the Philippines, for instance, we only currently have one facility where the coronavirus can be tested: the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) at Alabang. And the medical instrument to test the coronavirus in RITM was only just recently bought from Japan. Moreover, the government is also only recently beginning to realize that we have our own labs to help validate the presence of the coronavirus. Suffice to say — there are many holes in the Philippine public health system that we have to address in order to prepare for pandemics.

The Philippine government has also been strangely passive amid this outbreak. While Filipinos do understand that any form of public panic can potentially exacerbate the situation, they have also been constantly demanding the government to take a responsible sense of urgency and act accordingly in response to the spread of the disease. As to what would finally trigger a ‘flow state’ or proactive, consistent responses from the government, we don’t know yet.

Individual efforts matter

Because of the coronavirus, people are learning how to use face masks properly, and are even beginning to understand the science behind these. People are also learning to share the proper information and prevention tips to their peers. All these were possible thanks to social media.

But again, not all are acting as proactively. And this is something that we all need to work on.

Individual efforts matter more than ever. In times of outbreaks, public panic is understandable. It does no good to normalize this outbreak and translate it merely to just ‘another flu virus’. While it was slowly revealed that the virus is not as fatal as initially thought, we are still better off sharing helpful information, protecting ourselves, and practicing proper hygiene, among others.

What does this outbreak mean for sustainability?

Sustainability is commonly defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs“.

While it’s true that the 2019-nCoV is not as fatal as initially thought, its outbreak reveals a lot in terms of the world’s capability to contain an actually fatal pandemic. If the next potential pandemic, for instance, were to start in China, and knowing that China is known to censor public information, there would be possible complications.

This is why the world will need to prepare as much as it can for the next, global pandemic. As a sustainability imperative, these preparations are necessary to secure and protect future generations. The development of a universal flu vaccine is but one of the preparations underway for such a concern of global proportions.

What we can do as individuals scanning the web is simple: share truthful information and be informed of what we can do to protect ourselves and our peers.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

What we can learn from modern disease outbreaks

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Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay


Internet culture has evolved so much ever since earlier disease outbreaks. Back then, we relied on news outlets to set the entire mood when SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) first came about. Today, you’ll see constant updates on the news, real-time tallies of infections and casualties, and even memes and a video game about disease outbreaks.

Simply put, it’s come to a point where concerns of an international nature can be viewed through so many lenses, whether they may be informative, critical, progressive, or even entertaining and satirical. In other cases, they can be borderline racist, judgmental, or essentially nonsensical. These are all products of the information age, which is why we’re constantly reminded to be sensitive and conscious of what we put out in the online world.

But if there’s one thing we can learn from modern disease outbreaks, it’s that medical science has become so advanced nowadays that we’re able to proactively pave the path towards vaccines or a cure. Just check out this article and this article.

For medical professions alike, these are highly positive breakthroughs.

But what can we do as regular people sifting through news and information on the web?

It’s always best that we stay informed and equip ourselves with a healthy dose of skepticism. In the Philippines, there have been a number of ‘fake news’ advising people to ‘stay away’ from certain hospitals that allegedly have people infected with the coronavirus. Eventually, these rumors that spread about got debunked and verified as false by the hospitals themselves and the media.

It cannot be stressed enough, but we have to be able to constantly verify our sources and information. Digital literacy is becoming more and more essential today given the amount of information we consume on a daily basis. Asking very simple questions such as “Is this true? Who wrote this? Is the article written properly?” can literally save lives.

For starters, we have to battle it out with false information by sharing information that make sense and are actually helpful in setting up the general mood and conversation. No one is ever 100% certain, but we can at least help one another get closer to the truth, one step at a time.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

We need more sustainability jobs

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A quick search in Google (or Duck Duck Go or Ecosia, just in case you use these instead) about how to get a job in sustainability would return some helpful results. Since it’s only recently that the world realized how important the planet apparently is, sustainability jobs are also just beginning to come out.

Based on a quick research, I found that it is, basically, very difficult to find a sustainability job even in the developed world. Usually, these are reserved for higher-up positions in corporate social responsibility or executive sustainability teams of a company.

How do we then create sustainability jobs down to the entry and associate levels?

I am by no means an expert — I am just sharing an observation I’ve had while job-hunting for a sustainability job for quite some time now.

For one, I wish there was some form of career advice platform for career paths like this. When I first ventured out to ‘take a sustainability career path’, I never knew I had to experience so many road blocks. I was basically putting on so many hats without having a sort of system or coordinated effort. It was all mumbo jumbo. There was no ‘starting point’ to speak of.

But there’s a light in this dark tunnel.

My realization is that you shouldn’t start with a sustainability career right away. What many people do is they come from a totally different field and shift towards sustainability later on, probably because of realizations that the planet is, indeed, boiling to a crisp. What they learned in that prior field would then become a tool they can use to push the sustainability agenda forward. It’s a win-win.

And now that more and more people are beginning to understand that the health of the planet is at stake, we need to be able to create more sustainability jobs that fuel that passion and drive. Sustainability is no longer a question of ‘mindset’, it’s now a question of ‘how’.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

The systemic issues that plague us from within

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Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay


As time passes, I realized I’m becoming more and more personal with my approach to Berde Boy. From initially talking about larger-than-life ideas to talking about things like ‘taking baby steps’ — along the way, as cliché as this may sound, I realized I have to start with myself first.

The ideas of self-love, self-esteem, minimalism, personal finance, and all these things that are actually helpful were never taught to us in school and in our personal upbringing. These are things that we just happen to come across, probably through some conversations with friends or colleagues at work.

So for the past months, what I realized is for us to learn these ourselves and find other people who will help us grow. It’s a mutual process.

The learning process differs for many people. For myself, I’m just getting started. I’m at a crossroads in terms of what I should actually be doing. In fact, out of all the confusion and hidden anxiety, I realized I want to travel long-term in the meantime and just enjoy myself. I want to see the world beyond my comfort zones here in Metro Manila.

Let me be the one to tell you also that our mental health is a valid sustainability concern as well. Much like the biggest challenges of the world on climate change, food security, plastic waste, overpopulation, and many, many others — mental health is equally important. What we have to understand is that sustainability is everything. It’s not just about the systemic issues that surround us externally — it’s also about the systemic issues that plague us from within.

Pretty much — that’s all I have for this blog post. Whoever’s reading this at the moment, I’d like to show my gratitude. If it’s your first time reading my blog posts, you can check out my other posts. I write about several things from startups to my humble adventures as a digital nomad.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

Nama-なま: Of freshness and greens

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I’ve had the pleasure of helping my friend man the booth of his startup — called Nama — at the Lasallian Mission Trade Fair this week at De La Salle University, Philippines. In Japanese, Nama’s literal translation is fresh, natural, and as it is.

Nama’s goal is to produce microgreens such as basil, arugula, and broccoli, among others. These microgreens are used as garnish for various dishes such as appetizers and meals. Apart from being healthy, microgreens also add various flavor profiles to your dish.

Check out their Facebook page to know more.