• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

Poverty amidst plenty? Why?? No question about is as stated by Dr. Kent Carpenter, President of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (UN-FAO), “the Philippines is so rich ecologically.”  Per unit area, the Philippines abounds with so much flora and fauna which are only endemic in the country.  Would you believe that in a 5,000-hectare. Mt. Kitanglad Range the number of flora and fauna is far greater in number compared to those found in one billion-hectare continent of North America?  Indeed above the ground our country oozes with tremendous ecological wealth in terms of bio-diversity; and beneath are minerals, about 42 kinds – i.e., gold, silver, bronze, copper, iron, manganese, etc, that’s how rich we are. But the wealth does not end at the shorelines. The Philippine Archipelago has been described as the “the center of the center of marine life on earth.” But who controls? Who decides? Who benefits? Before, the colonizers were the ones who controlled.  Today, the neo-colonizers!

After losing all the 17 million of dipterocarp forest and with it, the billions of life forms that are now extinct.  We have lost our watersheds as some 15 of the 25 major rivers are already dried-up or polluted. We have also lost our minerals that have been the subject of so much extraction by foreign miners. Our marine and fishery resources are now all gone.  Of the 13 major bays in the country, 10 are already biologically dead, to the detriment of our coastal communities who are becoming the poorest of the poor.

Everything has been lost because of what you call “development aggressions! Even the lands of the Indigenous Peoples have been taken from them and have been transformed into massive plantations to satisfy the consumerist lifestyle of the people in the Northern Countries while we cannot even satisfy our basic staples like rice and milk.

Let there be no mistake on the very essence of cooperativism that we are now advancing otherwise we are no better than the neo-liberal capitalists whose development paradigm can be likened to the workings of an auto-immune disease syndrome (AIDS), where no less than the body’s defense mechanisms are attacking the vital organs.

Let notice be served to one and all that we in the cooperative movement are firmly adhering to the United Nations’ definition as the full development of human potentials, the expansion of choices and opportunities.  That for development to be so, it must pass a three-way test:  First, is it ecologically sustainable? This means it does not harm the environment but instead nurtures it; Second, does it benefit the people?  This means, responsive to their needs; and Third, does it have people’s participation? Unless all of the three criteria are satisfied, no development can take place, only mal-development or development aggressions!

It is quite puzzling that so much has been said about development, yet, we have totally destroyed the ecosystems and left the ecological people wallowing in poverty.  It is even a glaring paradox that we talk of agricultural development, yet, our country is still not self-sufficient even on basic staples like rice and milk.  Yes, everyone is profiting from farming except the farmers.

The IMF-World Bank spoke of development before, toppling down the forest to give way to Chico River Dam in the Mountain Province despite the serious resistance from the Ifugaos led by Macliing Dulag.  It was then the time of Marcos dictatorship when projects were just rammed down the throats of the populace and no amount of protest could stop such outpourings what had been described then as development aggressions.

That name was again invoked in putting-up the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant that cost the country more than two and half billion dollars, when the price should only be a billion or so.  For interest alone, the Philippine government is paying an amount yearly bigger than the annual budget of the health department for a mega project that had not at all produced even a single watt of electricity as it was established in an earthquake-fault area. What a tragedy in a country that cannot even put-up a hospital for the Indigenous People who are dying early for not knowing what an anti-biotic means!

It was the height of the travesty, a Trojan horse that has sucked the nation dry of its economic blood burying us in heavy foreign debt that even the new born must pay for something that has not at all benefit the country.

But we need not look far to see how the word is mangled beyond recognition.  The loggers have decimated our forests, industries have treated the bays as their waste pits, costly agricultural technologies tied up to use of heavy chemicals promoted, mangroves destroyed to give way to structures – – – all done in the name of DEVELOPMENT! All these speak well of development aggressions that must be rectified as we now advance Biyaya ng Pagbabago.

Before the rectification process, it behooves upon all of us to re-examine what really is the essence of development and to define what it is not.  It is not just providing for basic necessities such as food, shelter or clothing – even those in prisons have those.  It is not increases in Gross National Products as such may have just made a few elite richer at the expense of the many wallowing in dire poverty.

Still in the dark on the essence of development?  If you are a member of a cooperative, REJOICE! You are highly adhering to the time-honored and universally-accepted cooperative principles and practices which are now the countervailing force to  stop development aggressions.  Indeed, be transformative for people, planet, prosperity and peace – all for the greater Glory of God!