Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera
Heal the Blighted Land Back to Life or We Will All Perish
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where knowledge is free, where the world is not broken down by narrow domestic walls, in that heaven of freedom, my Father, LET MY PEOPLE AWAKE!”
These poetic lines by the world’s novel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, reverberated in India eight decades ago, as the once passive nation rose-up against British Imperialism. No less than the great Mahatma Gandhi bannered these poetic lines when he led in liberating his people from the cudgel of imperial rule, not through a bloody revolution but through a persistent peaceful powerful resistance called “SATYAGRAHA” or Love-Force. That Indian struggle against an empire which boast of colonizing a substantial portion of the globe thereby aptly earning the description of “an empire where the sun does not set,” had put in clear categorical term the imperative need of awakening the passive Indian people then.
Whatever be the odds, be it against an empire or against the painful realities and oppressive conditions that degrade human dignity, the awakened people at the end will always triumph. But first they have to be conscienticized on these painful realties, buried as they are in unbridled materialism and consumerism and in the fallacies of life through the mainstream media. When applied to the social, political, economic and environmental realities besetting our country, these poetic lines should come across the public imagination to reflect on where the people must be awakened. AND WHEN AWAKENED, MUST TAKE ACTION OTHERWISE AWARENESS WILL JUST BE AN EXERCISE IN FUTILITY.
With a sense of urgency, ECOLOGICAL AWARENESS should now awaken the Filipino people as the Philippines has been rated by the UN Risk Disaster Council as the 4th hardest hit country in the world by Climate Change. Let it be known that even with a strong army, a country without ecological security is not secured at all. There is no need to elaborate on this truism, especially here in Cagayan de Oro as such is RES IPSA LOQUITOR (the thing speaks for itself). When Typhoon Sendong hit the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in 2011, some 3,000 people were killed, most were the poor living in vulnerable areas and some 11,000 were rendered homeless. Evident are the thousands of hectares of denuded areas in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon & Lanao provinces, which were once oozing with dipterocarp forest but subjected to massive illegal logging as these virgin forests should have not been logged at all, being within the prohibited zones in terms of altitude, slopes and containing the finest of trees, not to mention that the forests are our invisible “water dam” and homes to millions of species of flora and fauna which are now extinct. For not hearing the cry of these extinct species while they were being massacred, nature now is taking its vengeance, based on the ecological principle that “there is no free meal in nature.” What is so puzzling is the QUESTION: WHY DID THE SIX LOGGING COMPANIES DID NOT COMPLY WITH THEIR OBLIGATION AS PROVIDED FOR IN THE ISSUANCE OF THE TIMBER LICENSE AGREEMENTS (TLAs) issued by the DENR TO DO REPLANTING? If only they complied, no TYPHOON SENDONG COULD HAVE HAPPENED AS ONE INCH-RAINFALL IN THE 200,000 DENUDED AREAS MEANS ONE-METER HIGH UPON REACHING THE 200 HECTARE-URBAN CENTER OF CAGAYAN DE ORO. TEN INCH-RAINFALL MEANS TEN-METER HIGH FLOOD. WE MUST NOW ASK DENR, WHY WAS THAT CONDITION IN THE TLAs NOT COMPLIED WITH AND ARROGANTLY VIOLATED? IT IS THE PREDICTION OF ENVIRONMENRTAL EXPERTS THAT WHEN ANOTHER TYPHOON HIT CAGAYAN DE ORO, AT LEAST 20,000 PEOPLE WILL PERISH UNLESS OF COURSE WE WILL INSTITUTE PRE-EMPTIVE MEASURES SUCH AS MASSIVE REPLANTING. As the six logging companies should be made accountable for not following the rule of law, but so much damaged had been done already. This time, may we ask the DENR if from their gargantuan wealth out of logging, can these loggers be legally obliged to do replanting to heal the blighted land back to life? By planting giant bamboo, Cagayan de Oro can still be saved as bamboo is a great water holder.
As bannered in the nineties by no less than US Vice President Al Gore then who is a world known environmentalist, “in the next fifty years, the global sea level will rise by at least 16 meters.” When that happens, the 7,000 islands in our archipelago will just be reduced to about 3,000. This statement is now reinforced by a recent Study that indeed the global sea level will rise by 16 meters in the next 30 years as 20 years had already passed since Al Gore’s prediction. In fact, our coastal communities in Macajalar Bay can attest of the gradual rising of sea level in the bay. This is so because the 386-meter high iceberg in the Arctic and Antarctic is melting at the tune of 1,000 hectares every day. Worse, that painful truth is also happening in the 3rd pole, the Himalayan Glaciers which also means hunger in the Philippines as the Himalayas is the source of irrigation to millions of hectares of rice-land in Asia, the source of our country’s rice importation of about 2.5 million metric tons annually as the Philippines is the biggest rice importer country in the world. WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD ADVOCATE NOW IS TO FOCUS ON RICE PRODUCTION AS OUR CHOICEST OF LANDS ARE BEING TRANSFORMED INTO MASSIVE PLANTATIONS OF HIGH VALUE FRUITS TO EARN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN PURSUANCE OF CORPORATE GLOBALIZATION, NOT FOR US BUT TO SATISFY THE CONSUMERIEST LIFESTYLE OF THE PEOPLE IN ADVANCED COUNTRIES. WE MUST NOW ADVOCATE TO STOP TRANSFORMING OUR LAND IN MINDANAO INTO MASSIVE PLANTTIONS, USING NON-BIODEGRABLE CHEMICALS THAT AS IF SOME 2,000 DUMPTRUCKS OF POISONOUS CHEMICALS ARE BEING DUMPED TO OUR WATER TABLE EVERY DAY, MANY OF WHICH ARE ALREADY BANNED IN OTHER COUNTRIES. THIS IS THE REASON WHY MANY CAGAY-ANONS ARE SUFFERING FROM CANCER OR BABIES BEING BORN DEFORMED.
The onslaught against the integrity of the forest ecosystem done through massive illegal logging happened because we Filipinos are so apathetic. Don’t you know that based on the Studies of expert environmentalists, the Philippines being an Archipelago must have at least 54% forest cover or about 10 million hectares? We barely have 500,000 hectares of forest remaining from 17 million hectares a century ago, thus, we have indeed lost our ecological security. We have even elected these loggers and their cohorts to high positions in government as economic power begets political power. When will we ever learn?
Worse, massive illegal mining continues being done by Chinese, who are holders only of tourist visa. The crime of the theft of minerals is becoming worse now as apparently, these influential miners have already formed a strong cabal of vested interest. When we in TASK FORCE KINAIYAHAN were implementing the WRIT OF KALIKASAN together with ten agencies of government ordered by the Court of Appeals to implement the Writ, we have arrested 5 Chinese illegal miners in their campsite where we found lethal high-powered weapons such as Armalite, AK-47 and grenades. We were so puzzled why those arrested were only imprisoned for a week. Now, massive illegal mining is being intensified, producing a “chocolate river,” that has silted Macajalar Bay that has destroyed our mangroves and coral reefs, the spawning ground of fish. The poorest of the poor now are our coastal communities who are now living in hunger and extreme poverty.
The narration of the environmental problems was all well documented when we were implementing the Writ of Kalikasan, supported with pictures taken from the Air Force helicopters from 2013 to 2017 by SULOG, ONE SENDONG IS ENOUGH AND TASK FOR MACAJALAR, AN ENVIRONMENTAL COALITION FOR JUSTICE, PEACE AND SUSTAINABILITY. We now must act despite all the threats and attempts to life as no less than our kindred environmentalist, Datu Sandigan, had already been killed but until now, the killers have not been arrested. Nothing to fear. There is no greater grandeur sight on earth than a brave environmentalist sacrificing his life to protect God’s vanishing creation and to save the thousands of vulnerable people in Cagayan de Oro. LET US NOW COME TOGTHER TO HEAL THE BLIGHTED LAND BACK TO LIFE. JOIN US to regain back our ecological integrity and food security, all for God’s greater glory!