- Kim’s Dream
- Orlando R. Ravanera
With the recent ecological tragedies experienced by our people in the form of super typhoons and flooding which have become more often and more vicious causing so much havoc to both life and properties, we are now cornered and have no more options left than to hear the cries of Gaia (Mother Earth).
It is time to admit the truth that we are all guilty of the sins of omissions for not being able to fulfill our mandate as God’s stewards of His vanishing creation, now threatened more than ever.
We have to take cognizance of the bitter reality that our country is now facing an alarming ecological crisis, which unless soon averted will lead to an impending environmentally-based economic and social collapse.
Much of the country’s physical resources are already seriously depleted. Only four million hectares or 13% of the forest cover remains. Seventy percent of mangrove forest destroyed. Forty percent of our watersheds seriously eroded. Fifty percent of fishery over-fished, degraded or polluted; and seventy-five percent of coastal reefs severely damaged by destructive illegal fishing and siltation.
Indeed, we have lost Eden. But why is this so?
It is my contention that ecological degradation in this country could be traced to our colonial past. For 400 years until 1946, the Philippines had been an outright colony of imperial powers. And since 1946, we have lived as a nation-state, sovereign and independent kuno, but so under the overwhelming influence of highly development countries that have exploited our resources.
Thus when we gained our independence in 1946, the condition and mechanisms of what would give way to the massive and systematic plunder of our natural resources were well entrenched in the national structure. It would then be a matter of time when that beautiful paradise would become a lost Eden. That way why, from 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest a century or so ago, we barely have 500,000 hectares left.
The ideal forest cover of the Philippines is 54%. Now it is less than 13%. This is the reason why a denuded mountain would just crumble down and literally erase a village, as in the case of Guinoyonon, Leyte last year. Indeed, the sins of a few loggers are now visited upon our people.
We have to understand that the issues of ecological and social injustice are inextricably linked and therefore need to be addressed simultaneously. Citing some of these issues will bring to the fore what we should do to correct social flaws.
Ecological degradation is rooted in the powerlessness of the ecological people to have access and control over their resources which are now fast sipping through their fingers. The benefit only goes to a few. Our country has been consign3ed to be exporter of cheap raw materials, foremost of which is timber. The Philippines, in effect, has been subsiding the timber needs of developed countries.
Foreign debt problem further aggravates environmental degradation. Debt servicing alone eats up 43% of our national budget. This means we are paying 150 million pesos everyday for interest alone. In our frenzy to pay our debt, we relentlessly exploit our natural resources. The results are devastating; timber exporting has denuded our forest, cash crops exports depending heavily on polluting pesticides and fertilizers, commercial fishing has destroyed coral reefs and mine tailings have polluted rivers and bays.
We must also examine the present economic paradigm as I believe that the cause of environmental crisis can also be largely attributed to a growth-centered development vision equating development with the output of goods and services despite the deprivation of our people’s livelihood, environmental destruction and depletion of our resource base. The underlying pattern of development only serves the consumerist lifestyles of foreign people and fellow citizen far beyond their share of the world’s natural resources.
It behooves upon all of us now to make some reflections and make amends for what we have done to Gaia, as it is only ours to protect for the coming generations.