Our Land Of Paradise
Once upon a time, many decades ago, there were these beautiful islands sitting in the middle of the vast blue ocean on the other side of the world undisturbed of its beauty. It was like a paradise. It was indeed beautiful with its lush green forest, rivers and springs flowing with fresh cool crystal clear water from the mountains, wild birds with all sorts of colors fly freely, the thundering sweet calls of the Kalaw birds, abundance of colorful fish in the Coral Sea, the tamaraw and other native animals roam the virgin forest undisturbed by humans. The native people that lived in these islands took care of this country like a delicate maiden protected and unspoiled. They built the rice terraces, not only to plant rice, an engineering marvel, but to protect and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape. They harvested trees to build their homes, but were also careful not to spoil the habitat of the native animals that lives around them. They were very aware that ecological balance has to be maintained and considered to preserve the environment they live in. These people were uncorrupted by greediness. They live in harmony with nature. The Aetas, the Ifugaos, the Igorots, and other native tribes lived in this beautiful land long before this country was called the Philippines. The native people had taken care of this land with the best of their ability as dictated by their beliefs and conscience. Their peaceful co-existence with other tribes were shattered forever by the arrival of the Europeans, Chinese, Dutch, Indians, Malaysians, Japanese, Americans, etc. and out of these groups of foreigners, came the modern Filipino of today. I can not call the Aetas, The Ifugaos, the Igorots and other native tribes “Filipinos” because they were already here long before the country was named Philippines in honor of King Philip 11 of Spain. I will call them the natives of the “Pearl of the Orient Sea ” and I am proud of them. These people maintained their identity and never waivered to foreign pressures to change their customs, traditions and beliefs. The native tribes were driven to the mountains by the onslaught of foreign conquest. The once virgin forest where the tamaraws freely roam was inundated of its timbers by greedy Spanish conquestadores in connivance with Filipino politicians whose main concerns was to enrich themselves regardless of the consequences it will create. ( I happened to come across an old atlas book. Philippine was listed as the 4th largest exporter of lumber in the world as of 1944. ) Where are the Tamaraws now? They only exist now in drawings and in pictures. What happened with our beautiful Kalaw birds and other native birds that live in the once virgin forest? Sadly, those beautiful birds were on the verge of extinction. Their natural habitats were destroyed by callous disregard of our environment by our corrupt leaders. Our leaders of the government allowed the greedy businessmen to harvest our timbers for money. Now our mountains were denuded of lush green timbers. The head of our government did not even give a thought of replanting trees to replace what was harvested. There was nobody there to speak up and voice their concern about unabated destruction of our environment. I am sure the great majority of the masses saw these destructions of the environment around them but too timid or afraid to voice their revulsions or could it be apathy? The denuded mountains are now growing cogon. Massive landslides destroyed homes and unprecedented death and destructions as a result of indiscriminate deforestations of our mountains. The natural topography of our plains, hills and mountains were artificially redirected and re-routed to fit our modern needs. As a result of this interference with nature’s natural curvature of our landscapes, massive flooding occurs and no one can stop the fury of nature. Our rivers were once flowing with crystal clear water, is now murky, muddy, smelly, stagnant because of piles of garbage. It became the raw sewage disposal place, mosquito infested, polluted and indeed a very, very sad river (see the river just below R.G de Castro College) Our rice fields was once fertile and a haven for native Hito (black catfish) and dalag that borrows itself in the mud during dry season and comes out from hibernation during rainy season fills our rice paddies. My mother told me how joyful it was to see them jumping, squiggling in the mud during rice planting season. How nature preserve these wonderful fish for us to appreciate. But all of these things are slowly disappearing with the introductions of chemical fertilizers, imported snails not even edible for human consumption, and imported Taiwanese catfish that devoured our native catfish. This is indeed very sad because this catfish (Hito) existed long before the modern human were here. Our ocean became our garbage dump. Beautiful corals that once thrive in our shores are now slowly dying from pollution and careless scrapping of the corals by illegal fishermen from Taiwan with their big trawlers. We used to have abundance of tropical fish for our consumption and for the future generations to come, but with the insensitive disregard of our country’s rules and regulations for fishing by foreign fishermen, our corals are slowly being destroyed and so the natural habitat of our endangered marine species. Our beaches that once were clear and the pride of our ancestors are now full of debris and broken glasses scattered around. You have to be very careful where to walk. You might step on human waste or dog’s droppings. We used to have mild weather; natural plants like abaca, rattan, coconut grow very well with the kind of weather we used to have. But when people relentlessly harvested the trees for lumber and for other purposes without replacing it, our weather changed. It is no longer the kind of weather conducive to growth of our native plants. Our weather is hotter, dryer, less rain. These are all the catastrophic results of callously disregarding the ecological balance and environmental protection of our God given paradise land. I can’t help but reflects the POIGNANT MEMORIES OF THE DISTANT PAST of this land we call home. It was a home where we can breathe fresh air, drink crystal clear water from the rivers, the soft rustling sound of the streams, the croaking of the frogs like a concerto in C minor come rainy days, the singing of the birds in the early morning sun as if rejoicing the new day, the sweet smell of the grass after the rain, the smiling people coming home from harvesting rice, proud for collecting sacks of rice for his day’s work. It was a simple life and happy. What did we do to our land? Why did we not protect our natural resources? It was GREED, GREED, and GREED by our leaders and politicians. These politicians and leaders don’t care what happen with us and our environment. We can make a big difference by starting to be aware of our surroundings NOW. Start planting trees even one tree per family a month by the end of the year, we already had planted a thousand trees; don’t throw your garbage in the ocean, beaches or the rivers. Bury the biodegradable and recycle the reusable. Don’t use our rivers as your raw sewage disposal. It creates diseases and mosquitoes will thrive in it. Look at what happened with our very own river in Bulan. It is now a dying river and it makes me very, very sad. Plant assorted vegetables in your backyard. Fresh vegetables are healthier than junk food. TEACH the youth to TAKE CHARGE OF THEIR OWN DESTINY; don’t expect other people to do it for you. Don’t be DEPENDENT. It is a crippling disease and takes away your dignity as a person. Teach the present and future generations to care for the animals, birds and other living species. They are very precious to me. They have the right to live in this world too and they are part of our eco-system. Teach them to express their thoughts and feelings in a positive way and to be open minded to positive criticism. Take pride in your work. When you work, give your 100% effort. You will feel better when you are honest with yourself. At the end of the day, you can honestly say that you earned every centavo you made that day. It is a good feeling. For once in your life, you were honest and didn’t cheat. IT IS YOUR LIFE AND FUTURE. Take away that ugly Filipino character of ( ma-isip, ma-o-ri, orihon, tamad, the bahala na attitude, do it tomorrow attitude, ENVY , DEPENDENCY to others will cripple your ability to survive out there in the real world. Shape your own future by working on it, not depending on others to shape it for you. Be HONEST, take responsibility of your own mistake by accepting it, correct it, and apologize. Don’t indulge in FALSE PRIDE, it will just ruin you. ARROGANCE is just an egotistical desire for power and dominance. We can not afford it. We are too poor for that kind of attitude and will bring you nowhere but down. GOSSIPING about other people to elevate oneself plagued the minds of the people for a long time. This kind of thinking is very destructive and it hinders progress. Let us CHANGE some of those ugly characters of the Filipino that is PULLING US DOWN TO CONSTANT POVERTY. Keep the good traits, trash the ugly ones. We have to teach present and future generations to change this kind of mentality. We have to erase it. We have to start NOW or our country will be devoured by foreigners whose intentions are to take advantage of the plight of the poor people. They already started by building their shipyard in Zambales without regards to the destruction of our forest and natural habitat of our endangered birds and animal species. The Koreans, the Chinese, the Hindus, the Japanese, the Taiwanese, pretty soon, it will be the Vietnamese are coming in droves. They are looking, prodding, calculating, conniving with our leaders, planning, exploring, the possibility of taking over the Philippine’s natural resources, gold mining, oil explorations in the Spratly Islands, the destructions of our sea shores from mining of margaha right in front of our very own eyes but people seem to be indifferent. Is this what happened many, many years ago when our environment was being destroyed by greedy politicians and nobody was there to voice their concern? It is sad to say that HISTORY SEEMS TO BE REPEATING ITSELF because of the total indifference of the people. I did not see anybody carrying placards saying “STOP THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR ENVIRONMENT”! About the government projects involving millions of dollars, these countries claimed that they donated millions of dollars on the pretext of helping the Philippines build the roads and other proposed projects to benefit the people. The monies they gave are not to build government projects. It goes to the pockets of our leaders as largesse. Our leaders are selling our country to the foreigners and were given a free reign to do anything they want in this country. The Korean company Hanjin knows exactly what they were doing. They will not invest billions of dollars in those massive projects and walk away. There will be exposures of bribery, corruptions, overpricing of materials, cooking the book, so they say. No matter how our people complained about the destruction of our forest, our leaders will give in to the Hanjin Company’s demand. They are arrogant and don’t respect our Filipino leaders because they know that our leaders are corrupt and can be bought and were already bought. Few years from now, we will be again the slave of foreign domination. This time we are losing our country to foreign domination by way of subtle economic exploitations. Our ancestors sacrificed thousands of lives defending our country (We lost 2 uncles, grandfather from World War 11.) but we won the war. This time, it is a different war. A war dominated by economic exploitations of our natural resources by the foreigners in conjunction with our elected leaders of our government. Our very own government is selling off our country to the highest bidder for their own benefits. It is dastardly sickening to see what is happening to our once paradise land. But we can save our country from foreign domination by working together as a team. We have to be assertive and take control of the situation. Don’t let the situations control us. It will be a long haul but we can do it.