Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera
Let Us Heal the Wounds of Mother Earth
Liberating humanity from collective insanity is the urgent call of the times otherwise the earth’s 6 th extinction will come of age after the 5 th extinction which happened some 63 million years ago when asteroids hit the earth that had erased Dinosaurs from the face of the earth. The species known as the homo sapiens has been described as the most flawed of all of God’s creation, having killed not only fellow human beings at the tune of some 150 million in the 20 th century alone out of two world wars but the homo sapiens has put to extinction billions of mega- diversity and now causing the extinction of the earth itself. The awakening time has come. Let us now know who truly we are, not just form (body) but consciousness (spirit).
As consciousness, we must pay homage to Gaia (Mother Earth) that sustains life yet, has been abused no end, its forests raped, its biodiversity massacred, its agricultural lands poisoned by toxic chemicals, its rivers drying-up, its sea polluted and its ozone layer depleted.
We are now in the 23 nd year of the 21 st century but we are not so certain anymore if we can reach the 22 nd as the earth warms, sea level rising and climate change has set the doomsday clock to just “one minute before midnight.” We must now contend with impending ecological disasters – earthquakes, tsunamis, super typhoons, drought and floods – which are becoming horrible and fatal. Indeed, there is no free meal in nature. After sacrificing Mother Earth to the altar of greed and profit because of the development paradigm called Neo-Liberal Capitalism also known as Corporate Globalization which is anchored on the growth-at-all-cost development strategy, nature is now taking its vengeance.
The Philippines, according to the United Nations’ Risk Disaster Index is the 4th country in the world worst hit by Climate Change. Our accelerating drive towards ecological disasters is further aggravated by the destruction of ecological base that must feed, cloth and house the exponentially growing population. The 10,000 or so earth’s inhabitants had grown to 3.3 billion in 1900 after one hundred thousand years but that 3.3 billion has more than doubled to 7 billion today, after only 120 years. By 2050, there will be some 9.3 billion people on earth, according to UN demographers, which is only 28 years from now.
The tremendous increase in world’s population cannot be matched by food production. On the contrary, food production is decreasing because, according to well-known scientists, for every one-degree Celsius increase in the earth’s temperature, there will be a corresponding 10% decrease in yield of wheat, corn and rice.
One billion people on earth are hungry, mostly Asians. The impending occurrence of famine is now predicted as the Himalayan glaciers are melting in addition to the daily melting of one thousand hectares of the 386-meter-high glaciers in the Arctic and the Antarctic. As an adverse consequence, it is feared that the Mekong Delta that irrigates millions of hectares of rice lands in India, China, Vietnam, Lao and Cambodia will dry-up and will instead be inundated by the rising salty water.
When this happens, some 30 million Filipinos will go hungry as we are importing 2.5 million metric tons of rice annually from these countries. The 106 million Filipinos need some 15 million metric tons of rice every year. We can only provide some 10 million metric tons, the balance of which we import. I believe it is time to make our country self-reliant on food. It is paradoxical that while we are feeding the world with all kinds of fruits and cash crops, we must import basic staples for our hungry people such as rice and milk. This is because it is the giant agri-business corporations that own our agriculture, not the farming communities.
While we must be conscious of the state of the environment globally, it is imperative for us to be aware, more so, locally. The Philippines has long lost its ecological integrity. In fact, we are now facing ecological crisis that unless soon averted will lead to societal collapse.
After losing the 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest in just a century, there is no way in stopping the rampaging water that wreaks havoc whatever it finds in its path, be life, limb or properties. Even here in Cagayan de Oro, we have witnessed the destruction of our ecosystems with utter disregard for nature and the welfare of the future generations which has rendered the city very much vulnerable to ecological disasters. Remember what happened when Typhoon Sendong hit Cagayan de Oro on Dec 17, 2011.
In just one night of flooding, some 3,000 died in cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan and some 11,000 families were rendered homeless. Those who died were the poor families living in the vulnerable areas while the rich and powerful loggers who were the culprits were well ensconced in their mansions. Yes, pobre lang po sila pero mga anak din po sila ng Diyos! Many of the pitiful victims were children.
Satellite map had shown that from 37,000 hectares of forest cover 50 years ago in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro, we barely have a thousand hectares of remaining forest. From the sixties to the nineties, logging has continued without let-up, perpetuated by those whose insatiable greed had created a strong cabal of vested interest with connivance from the very people who are tasked to protect the environment. Massive non-stop illegal logging operations had been done for more than four decades by powerful six logging companies namely, Vicmar, TIPI, Remedios Fortich & Sons, Roa & Sons, Dacudao, Valderama & Sons which were supported by well-armed guards especially by another illegal logger named the late 2nd Lt. Modesto Elezare. The DENR should be asked why these logging companies did not comply with the provision as stated in the Timber License Agreements (TLAs) on the imperative responsibility of massive replanting to replace tree in the logged areas? Furthermore, the DENR should explain why logging operations took place in the prohibited zones, i.e., no logging in forestall areas with an altitude of more than 1,000 meters above sea level. The Mt. Kalatungan & Mt. Kitanglad Ranges have an altitude of more than 2,600 meters above sea level, BAKIT NAUBOS ANG KAKAHUYAN DOON? Also, no logging in sloppy areas with more 50% gradient and the finest of trees are well protected, i.e., Red Lauan, Narra, Mahogany, & Almacega. Ubos na rin lahat because these finest of trees command higher price in the world market. In fact, in the hinterlands of Bukidnon, these loggers have put-up saw-mills amidst the oozing forest areas and no one can enter as these were well-guarded by the loggers with high powered guns. DENR PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT DID YOU DO TO IMPLEMENT THE RULE OF LAW. Don’t you know that these loggers did not just violate environmental laws but they have caused the death of thousands as what happened when rampaging waters hit the cities of Cagayan de Oro & Iligan due to Typhoon Sendong. These loggers are therefore guilty of indirect murder of thousands of people!! His Excellency, PRESBBM, we hope that due investigation be done on why the rule of law was blatantly violated which was replaced by the rule of the guns, money and power!
Such is the razon d’etre, why we in Task Force Macajalar had to wage the people’s direct actions, staging human barricades to stop the 50 ten-wheeler logging trucks with armed escorts, passing the thorough fares of Cagayan de Oro from midnight till dawn. Each truck, according to reports, was paying checkpoint five thousand pesos and telling us then that we cannot stop them because 90% of the people in the office mandated to enforce environmental laws were under their payroll.
The 17 million hectares, only less than 500,000 hectares remain as the loggers would earn 360,000 million pesos just in one shipment alone.
Don’t you know that in one shipment of logs alone, a logger would earn some 360 million pesos, money that they also share to law enforcers? All logging activities were illegal then as these choicest of trees were cut in the prohibited zones being critical areas in terms of topography and slope.
Cagayan de Oro River is fed by about a dozen tributaries coming from Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Kalatungan in Bukidnon. There is a high possibility that the floods on Dec. 17, 2011 that hit Cagayan de Oro and Iligan Cities may have come from Mt. Kalatungan as it serves as watershed of both cities, draining to the Cagayan de Oro River through its tributaries like the Balulang River, and to Iligan through the Mandulog River Among the operators is the IFMA no. 1 issued in 1997 to Vicmar Development Corporation. Several CBFMA issued huge cutting permits called Resource Use Permits. Logging in these areas was so rampant, rending some 200,000 hectares denuded. As predicted by well-known environmentalist, one-inch rainfall in 200,000 denuded areas is equivalent to one meter high flood upon reaching the 200 hectares urban center of Cagayan de Oro. Ten-inch rainfall means ten-meter flood water. PATI ANG GAISANO, DI NA IYAN MAKITA DURING THE NEXT SENDONG.
Indeed, we have lost Eden as the Philippines was so rich before in biodiversity. In one forest ecosystem alone such as Mt. Kitanglad, the number of flora and fauna found in that 5,000-hectare ecosystem is far greater compared to those found in one billion hectare- continent of North America. Our archipelago had been described before by the President of the UN-FAO, Dr. Kent Carpenter, as the center of the center of marine and fishery life on earth. Not anymore. Our vast seas became a dumping ground of toxic garbage from Korea, Australia and Canada. Of the 13 major bays in the country, 10 are already biologically dead. Of the 25 major rivers, 15 are already dried up. Our forests, our” invisible “water dam,” are now gone because our country has supplied the timber needs of the world in the last century because of the elitist and oligarchical control by the new breed of colonizers. Be that as it may, let us express our love to GAIA and in one voice we shout, WE LOVE YOU GAIA!
No to commercializing Xavier University that sacrifices its cultural heritage. The Mini- forest of Manresa is home to some 40 species of birds. Preserve Manresa and should not be sacrifice to the altar of greed and profit. Based on this painful ecological truth, never should cutting of the trees be done in the mini-forest of Manresa which somehow serves as the “shield” against another “Sendong.” Glaringly thousands will die in Balulang if that happens.