Sustainable development: the key to protecting the environment

This morning, the Manila Cathedral held the launching event for the Living Laudato si’ Philippines movement.

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If you will recall, Laudato si’ is the second encyclical of Pope Francisco published three years ago. This encyclical dealt with wanton consumerism, irresponsible development, environmental degradation, and global warming. Through Laudato si’, the pontiff called all peoples of the world to take a swift and unified global action to save the environment through sustainable development.

Aside from fighting the leyenda negra by attempting to bring back the Spanish language in order to redeem our Filipino Identity, environmentalism is my other advocacy. In fact, If I’m ever asked which between the two I’m more concerned about, I’d choose the latter in a heartbeat. I may not write much about it, but I support it through action: I do not litter, I teach my kids to do the same, we segregate our waste, and we respect plant and animal life. Besides, so much has already been written about environmentalism that any views from me will be considered a mere drop of water in an already filled bucket. And there’s too much writing, but so little action. Anyway, all I can say is this: much of Filipinas before, especially during the supposedly “exploitation-filled” Spanish times, was a haven for nature, fauna, and flora. This beauty inspired the creativity of many a poet and artist. But many of these natural wonders today are either gone or polluted, replaced by “progress” in the guise of unmitigated real estate development and a hurried and careless urbanization of picturesque and ecologically friendly towns. All this in the name of capitalistic greed and avarice, a consequence of “gobbleization”.

When I started La Familia Viajera a few years ago, my friend Arnaldo warned me that it’s going to be a “logistics nightmare”. But the desecration of our country’s natural resources is a major factor why I wanted my family to travel with me. Traveling, at least for me, is fueled not solely by my passion to search for traces of our country’s Hispanic past, nor are they spurred exclusively by a responsibility to document maltreated Fil-Hispanic heritage sites. I wanted my family to visit our country’s natural wonders because I fear that one day, any time soon, those natural wonders will soon disappear. Or that they might meet the same fate as the Pásig River or once lush forests that are now commercial centers. That is why as much as possible, I wanted to travel regularly, with all members of my family, from my wife down to our youngest daughter, all seven of us. Those travels are not just for my enjoyment but for my children’s as well. Furthermore, traveling is not merely for enjoyment, it’s educational. And when my children grow up and those natural beauties (including heritage sites) that we’ve visited through the years will have disappeared, they would still be able to see them, at least through our blog’s photos (unfortunately, Arnaldo’s warning came to pass: we’re no longer updating our family blog because we couldn’t afford to travel anymore).

I fear not for myself but for my children with regard to environmental degradation. But of course. My generation is probably the last that did not worry about an environmental apocalypse. Let me just borrow a few lines (written in original Tagálog spelling, another one of my unpopular advocacies) from Filipino folk band Asín to explain this fear:

Ang mğa batang ñgayón lang isinilang,
¿May hañguin pa cayáng matiticmán?
¿May mğa puno pa cayá siláng aaquiatín?
¿May mğa ilog pa cayáng lalañguyán?

Right now, it’s not enough to be simply “environmental” in order to save our natural resources. Protecting the environment nowadays is not just about throwing one’s waste in a designated trash bin or turning off electrical appliances that are not in use. It is not just about tree planting events. This is not just about hating illegal logging. Environmentalism is something that “needs to be done”, but without derailing the economy.

The keyword here is sustainable development. The International Institute for Sustainable Development explains this much better:

All definitions of sustainable development require that we see the world as a system—a system that connects space; and a system that connects time.

When you think of the world as a system over space, you grow to understand that air pollution from North America affects air quality in Asia, and that pesticides sprayed in Argentina could harm fish stocks off the coast of Australia.

And when you think of the world as a system over time, you start to realize that the decisions our grandparents made about how to farm the land continue to affect agricultural practice today; and the economic policies we endorse today will have an impact on urban poverty when our children are adults.

We also understand that quality of life is a system, too. It’s good to be physically healthy, but what if you are poor and don’t have access to education? It’s good to have a secure income, but what if the air in your part of the world is unclean? And it’s good to have freedom of religious expression, but what if you can’t feed your family?

The concept of sustainable development is rooted in this sort of systems thinking. It helps us understand ourselves and our world. The problems we face are complex and serious—and we can’t address them in the same way we created them. But we can address them.

The recent case of Borácay’s controversial closure is a clear picture of what strict implementation of environmental measures can do. In only six months time, Borácay was able to heal itself from the “cesspool” that it once was due to indiscriminate business practices. Blueprints for sustainable development programs can now enter the scene in order to maintain the small island’s ecological continuity. The success of such programs can later be applied to a much bigger setting.

Going back to Laudato si’. In the said encyclical, Pope Francisco reiterates the traditional teachings of Christianity regarding the environment: that creation possesses inherent goodness (“each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection”), and that dignity does not depend on human utility. While we humans are a part of creation, we were set apart by God to “cultivate and care for” the gift of creation (Genesis 2:15). This responsibility is not for His sake in the first place but for ours and our children’s children.

Lastly, it will not hurt nor demean our businesses if we add some spirituality to them, or at least, some spirituality in our business objectives. Spirituality in a way tends to ward off unchecked utilitarianism in our commercial endeavors, thus evading any eventuality that might lead to environmental harms.

The foregoing makes me wonder: are there still Catholic CEOs and board of directors who pray the Rosary?

Click here and here for more information about sustainable development, and here for Pope Francisco’s encyclical on the environment and sustainable development.

We should all act NOW.


Would Rizal have won the Ultra Lotto prize money?

Last night, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s (PCSO) Ultra Lotto breached the one-billion peso mark when the jackpot hit a whopping ₱1,026,264,340. The prize money —the biggest lottery prize in Filipino History so far— is expected to even grow much bigger with each coming draw date.

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The hopes and dreams of millions of Filipinos here and abroad have been abuzz for the past several weeks because of this. But why not? With the continuous rising cost of commodities and record-breaking inflation rates, how can we blame them not to gamble twenty-four pesos or more for an Ultra Lotto ticket in the hopes of escaping our country’s decades-old economic miseries for good? Even the president’s daughter was tempted to try her luck several days ago. But the only way to win the lottery, really, is by sheer luck. Mathematicians will attest to this.

Speaking of history and luck, we can now say that José Rizal was one heck of a lucky fellow. Writer, painter, sculptor, political thinker, ophthalmologist, land surveyor, anthropologist, polyglot, farmer, grammarian, fencer, etc., he was the 19th century’s poster boy of a true renaissance man. He lived the good life as a child, having been born to well-off parents. He even had some of the finest ladies during brief intervals as a lover boy. Daniel Padilla’s song “Nasa Iyó Na Ang Lahát” fits him perfectly. 😂 Tapos guinauá pa siyáng pambansáng bayani. 

But wait — there’s more! In case you haven’t heard yet, Rizal also had another least-known attribute. And that is luck which he was able to use to win the lottery! Playing the lottery was, in fact, his (only) vice. Even while in Spain, he made it a point to save three to six pesetas a month for lottery tickets.

During his exile to Dapitan, Rizal was able to use luck to finally win the lottery. During those days, the lottery was managed by the Empresa de Reales Lotería Españolas de Filipinas, the precursor of the PCSO (part of the proceeds of the lottery games was used by the Spanish colonial government to generate revenues). Rizal won second prize on 21 September 1892. The jackpot was worth ₱20,000, and the winning number was 9736. But since he had shared his money to fund for the purchase of the lottery ticket with two other people, he had to share the jackpot with them. Those two were Dapitan Governor Ricardo Carnicero and a certain Francisco Equilor, a Spanish resident in Dipólog. Each of the three received about ₱6,200 which was still a huge amount during the 1890s.

What did Rizal do with his prize money? Being a good son, he sent ₱2,000 to his father who had just finished paying off some debts in Manila. He also sent ₱200 to his friend José Mª Basa, known in Filipino History as the one who had smuggled Rizal’s novels to our country from Hong Kong (as an aside, Basa’s great granddaughter Cristina was the wife of the late and controversial Chief Justice Renato Corona). The rest of the money was used to purchase a 16-hectare land in Barrio Talísay, the exact place where he had stayed during his exile in Dapitan. He also engaged in abacá business as well as setup a small school for boys and a hospital. He even funded the installation of a street lighting system in Dapitan. That’s how selfless he was. Hopefully, whoever wins that fairy tale Ultra Lotto jackpot would be as generous as our national hero.

The 16-hectare land which Rizal purchased using his lottery winnings is now known as the José Rizal Memorial Protected Landscape. Photo: Gerald Patrick Harayo.

Would Rizal have won today’s billion-peso jackpot if he were alive today? It’s a lucky guess. But whatever luck he may have had in winning that lottery, however, wasn’t enough to save him from being framed by Freemasons as the leader of the Katipunan rebellion which eventually led to his execution by firing squad. Sa isáng bandá, hindí palá puedeng mapuntá sa isáng táo ang lahát.

Una exposición de arte por una buena causa

Ayer por la tarde asistí la apertura de una exposición de arte por una causa organizada por mi amigo, el Dr. Nilo Valdecantos. Él es un dentista de profesión pero un patrón de arte por vocación. Después de todo, es de Paeté, un pueblo (municipalidad) en la provincia de La Laguna que es famoso por sus escultores. Pero a través de los años la tradición escultórica de Paeté se vio aumentada por una nueva generación de artistas: pintores y también músicos. Por lo tanto, Paeté ahora puede ser considerado como un refugio para artistas.


Kalikasan, Kultura, at Kasaysayan” en LRI Design Plaza, Ciudad de Macati.

El Dr. Valdecantos es un sobreviviente de cáncer. Fue capaz de sobrevivir a esa dolorosa experiencia porque tenía los medios para hacerlo. Pero durante esa dolorosa experiencia, pudo conocer a otros pacientes de cáncer que no eran tan afortunados como él porque eran pobres. No podían pagar la costosa medicación ni la quimioterapia. Así, su destino quedó sellado.

Después de sobrevivir a su terrible experiencia, el Dr. Valdecantos no olvidó a los otros pacientes de cáncer que había conocido durante su paso inolvidable. Por eso lanzó una exposición de arte para una causa se llama “Kalikasan, Kultura, at Kasaysayan” (Naturaleza, Cultura, e Historia) para el beneficio de los pacientes de cáncer. El evento presenta las obras de arte (pinturas y esculturas) de los mejores artistas de Paete en la actualidad como Fred Baldemor, Glenn Cagandahan, Ysa Gernale, y mucho más. Una gran parte de los ingresos de sus magníficas obras de arte serán para los pacientes con cáncer que están internados en St. Frances Cabrini Medical Center en Santo Tomás, Batangas. Kalikasan, Kultura, at Kasaysayan se encuentra en LRI Design Plaza en la Ciudad de San Pedro Macati (Makati City) y se extenderá hasta el 16 de octubre.


“Three Graces Series” (Serie de Tres Gracias), una escultura en bronce por Fred Baldemor, considerado como el “Miguel Ángel de Filipinas”.


“Fiesta”, óleo sobre lienzo por Amador Barquilla.

El Dr. Valdecantos, un patrocinador genuino de las bellas artes, espera que muchos otros patrocinadores del arte como él organicen más eventos como este. Que Dios bendiga su hermosa alma.


El Dr. Nilo Valdecantos y yo. Detrás de nosotros está Joey Ayala, un famoso músico, junto con su percusionista vocalista de respaldo.

Kalikasan, Kultura, at Kasaysayan (art for a cause)

After successfully launching the “Apo Ni Isaac II” art exhibit last September 22, Kape Kesada Art Gallery, in cooperation with LRI Design Plaza, brings us yet another art exhibit, this time for a cause…

Kalikasan, Kultura, at Kasaysayan, an art for a cause exhibit.

The proceeds of this art exhibit which features the works of visual artists from the Laguna Artists Guild will be for the benefit of cancer patients confined in St. Frances Cabrini Medical Center in Santo Tomás, Batangas. This project is a brainchild of Dr. Nilo Valdecantos, art patron of La Laguna Province and owner of Kape Kesada Art Gallery, who himself is a cancer survivor (Non-Hodgkin lymphoma).

Screengrab of Dr. Nilo Valdecantos’s CNN interview last September 27 for Cherie Mercado’s “Serbisyo Ngayon“. Click on the image to watch the interview.

“Kalikasan, Kultura, at Kasaysayan” will have a grand opening this coming Friday, October 5, and will run until October 16 at the 2nd floor of LRI Design Plaza. For more details, please contact Francis Valdecantos at (0917)632-7131, or send a private message to Dr. Valdecantos himself right here.




Concepción the dying kitten

The roads of San Pedro Tunasán were still wet from the previous night’s heavy rainfall when I arrived early in the morning from my night shift. In fact, I arrived an hour too early for the 9:30 AM Mass, and my stomach was already rumbling with hunger. I haven’t eaten anything since my shift, but I still had sixty pesos left. I was contemplating on whether or not I should spend it for “dinner” (night shifters’ equivalent for breakfast) or just pass away the time at the old town plaza fronting the church. I may have a thin frame, but my appetite is Asgardian. So imagine the struggle that I had to go through by attempting not to eat before Mass. I was thinking of imitating what our Filipino forefathers did during the Spanish times: they had to fast after midnight before taking the morning Eucharist. Afterwards was the only time they were able to eat.

I had another option left: continue reading William Pomeroy’s The Forest at the town plaza. However, I was drawn by the speaker phones coming from the church. Fr. Paul Búgay was officiating an early morning Mass for the students of Liceo de San Pedro in celebration of today’s feast day, the Immaculate Conception. I even saw my son Jefe among the young faithful.

But that Mass was far from over, in fact had just started. So I was compelled to wait somewhere else for the next Mass. At the second floor of the parish hall building was a Marian exhibit featuring images that represented some of the most famous titles of the Virgin Mary. I stayed there for a few minutes, then went out for a walk at the old town plaza which I have not visited for months.

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A view of the old town plaza of San Pedro Tunasán taken from the belfry of San Pedro Apóstol Church many years ago (Photo: Filipino eScribbles).

Our city is currently holding its annual Paskuhan sa San Pedro, a nightly presentation of reverie in celebration of Christmas month. That’s why the town plaza looked festive. The thought that my first book was launched here a few months ago, albeit a simple ceremony, still dazes me up to now.

There was no place to read. All the benches were wet because of last night’s rain. So I turned my back from the stage and started to troop back to the church. But there on the wet concrete floor, between the plaza’s unappealing monolith and sampaguita bushes, lay a dead kitten, its black and white fur matted.

Or so I thought; I saw it shiver a bit.

Were my eyes playing tricks on me? I was feeling a bit weak and lightheaded due to lack of sleep and hunger, so I wasn’t really sure if it was dead or not. Only one way to make sure: just go check it out. But I had to fight off man’s natural disgust of being near a dead animal. And as I came nearer, I noticed no stench. And lo, the little furball shivered again!

I imitated a purr (I was quite good at it years ago) just to elicit some response from it, just to make sure that it was really alive. Its wobbly head responded, and it looked at me with very weak-looking and half-opened eyes.

It was still alive!

The poor thing surely bore the brunt of the previous night’s downpour. Now it was dying! I looked around me, looking for help as I was helpless in helping the poor kitten. There were a couple of street sweepers around cleaning up the plaza for tonight’s Paskuhan. One elderly sweeper brushed past near me. I pointed towards the kitten for him to see, hoping that he might take pity on it. But he muffled out something gibberish which translated to me as “just leave that li’l tomcat alone to die on its own”.

Bringing it home with me was not an option. There’s no spot in our small apartment unit for the kitten to stay, and my wife is not fond of keeping pets. Then I saw a girl, aged four or five. She looked like an indigent (there are many of them at the plaza). I talked to her and tried to goad her to take the poor kitten home, pleading to her heartstrings that the kitten will die if not attended to. The girl just stood there, gaping at the kitten. Then suddenly I remembered that I have something in my pant’s pocket: Junífera Clarita‘s folded tank top! I’ve been using it for the past few days in lieu of a hankie, just so that I had something to wipe off my sweat (I suffer from hyperhidrosis, thus an ordinary handkerchief is not enough).

Without hesitation, I covered the poor kitten with it, and it shivered all the more when I did so. Darn, I thought. The kitten was really suffering from cold! And it must be as hungry as I was too. I talked to the girl some more. “Why don’t you just take it home and make it your new pet? You will be able to save its life.”

Then she went near the kitten, lifted her small, right foot, and toyed on its head.

OK, that’s enough. Giving it to the indigent girl was not a good option after all. Besides, her mother arrived a few minutes later and I saw her scolding the girl while making unfriendly side glances at me. She probably thought I was some pedophile junkie. Can’t blame her. All moms, whether they be rich or poor, should never allow their little girls on their own out in the streets.

I thought of just leaving the kitten to die. It was dying, anyway. There’s no way I could save it. Besides, I already did my part. I’ve covered it with my baby daughter’s clothing. At least it would die in warmth.

I stood up and started to leave, then gave it one last look…

But I just couldn’t leave it to die! 😞

Suddenly, something came to mind. I do remember having seen a pet store near the back of the church past the road tunnel several times. I wasn’t sure if it was a veterinary clinic or some pet shop because each time I pass by the place I never gave it a hard look.

The kitten was shivering weakly. Time’s running out. I have to save the poor thing. But I didn’t have the heart to carry it. So I sprinted like mad from plaza to store which was several meters away, hoping against hope that somebody there would come with me to the plaza. I never minded the people who were looking at me as I ran. They were probably wondering why in the world was I running so fast. I thought about the 9:30 AM Mass as I was sprinting towards the pet shop. Today is a Holy Day of Obligation for us Catholics. I had to attend Mass instead of attending to a dying kitten. But I’m sure God in His infinite mercy will forgive me if I were just a few minutes late, I thought to my tired self. Besides, I’m doing this to save His forsaken kitten.

When I got to the shop, I was sweating all over. Through its huge mirror, I saw an attendant combing a small, white dog’s fur. And then I saw the shop’s big signage. Its name was like a humorous slap in the face: the shop was a pet parlor, not a veterinary clinic!

This freaking town has no veterinary clinic!

I felt like crying. I sprinted back, hoping against hope that the kitten was still there, that it was still alive, that the little indigent girl with her grumpy mother didn’t come back, that the street sweepers didn’t dispose of it. I took pity at the kitten’s fate. I cursed under my breath at both our fate, then cursed again because I cursed on a Holy Day.

I was almost out of breath when I got back to the plaza. The kitten was still there, but it was no longer shivering. I thought that it already died while I was away. But its weak eyes were still looking at me.

I looked up at the church, the voices of the young faithful blurting out from its thick, beige-painted walls. I covered the kitten much carefully and, after  conquering my hesitation, carried it towards the church. I felt the clothing, already wet in my hands. The kitten started to purr and move about weakly. I couldn’t tell if it was purring or crying. But it was obviously afraid. I saw the claws come out from the paws and took extra caution not to be scratched lest I get infected with potential rabies. I had to cross that part of the road between church and plaza where one is not supposed to cross. But I was desperately in a hurry. And where was I to bring the kitten? To the church. To whom should I bring it? I had no idea. Probably to Fr. Paul? But I have to wait for the Mass to end.

At the north transept, where the entry towards the sacristy was located, I saw a group of altar boys preparing for the 9:30 Mass. Fr. Paul was still officiating the first Mass which I noticed was about to end. I hurriedly went to the boys and, with dying kitten in hand, told them about my predicament. Actually, the kitten’s predicament which became mine as well. Somebody call an ambulance! Somebody call 911! Somebody call somebody! This kitten is in dire need of help! But even the sacristans were unsure of what to do. They looked at each other, murmuring, looking for options.

I softly placed the frightened and weak kitten, still covered with my daughter’s tank top, beside a wall where I deemed it was safe. I went to the parish hall to look for some adult help. I’m not sure who to speak to as I was afraid they might think me as some odd fellow. Because in this cruel world where we live in today, almost nobody cares for homeless animals. Has anyone ever thought of the birds and fireflies during a cruel night storm? How were they faring while you and your furry pets are warmly cozying up taking selfish selfies inside the comfort of your homes?

I was able to speak to some young women from Liceo de San Pedro. Students in shirts and jeans. I didn’t know what activities they were doing at the parish hall building, but what’s on my mind at that very moment was nothing more than to save the kitten before it was too late.

A newly arrived lass had a first aid kit in hand, but was taken aback when she learned that the patient was not human. I was about to suggest to them to feed it because it must certainly be hungry, but the kitten looked just like a few days old. It cannot be fed even bread. And it must already be looking for its mother’s milk. Then like a flash of light, it suddenly occurred to me to buy it some milk to drink.

So that’s why I was hesitant in spending all of my money for my own “dinner”! Thanks be to God!

I rushed to the nearest convenience store. All their milks in tetra packs were ice cold. There’s no way a shivering kitten would be able to drink it. So off I went to other stores. I found one from a 7-Eleven outlet fronting the city jail. After paying for it, I rushed out the store like a burglar pursued. I’m mighty glad that the policemen who were all over the place didn’t take me for a thief.

When I came back, a small crowd of high school kids from Liceo have already gathered with the sacristans who were looking at the kitten, and it gladdened my heart. More people, more chances of saving it. When they saw me with the tetra packed milk, they started looking for a bowl or anything to hold the milk. No bowl could be found. So one of them improvised: a plastic cup was cut down with a pair of scissors to make it look like a bowl.

The milk was poured into the bowl. A young lady from Liceo who was holding the poor kitten drew its mouth near the improvised bowl filled with milk. But the kitten was too weak to even stick out its tongue. And when we removed the kitten from Junífera Clarita’s tank top so that it could feed freely, it weakly crawled towards the cloth — it was still feeling terribly cold and was searching for warmth! So one of the girls took a much bigger and thicker cloth for the kitten. I didn’t know where she got them, but it looked like a yellow- and orange-colored flag.

We then tried to feed it some more, and at last it stuck out its tongue and took a small lap at the milk. It was shivering less and less. At least, it was a good sign that the kitten was recovering. I was able to chat with the kids too, telling them that if not one of them would be able to bring the poor thing home, then at least they could take turns of taking care of it within church premises. I even suggested that we give it a name: Concepción, because she was found and saved on the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. They all started mentioning the name when referring to the kitten.

But Concepción is a girl’s name. What if the kitten was male after all? Then I thought that it didn’t matter, because I suddenly remembered that even males can carry Concepción as their name. Yes, I was thinking of Ate Shawie‘s former lovey-dovey. 🤣

A few minutes later, Fr. Paul appeared from the sacristy and was joking around with the students and sacristans. And then he saw me, all wet with sweat and a total mess.

Buenos días, padre” I said, as I took his hand.

¡Oh, buenas, buenas! ¿Cómo está?” he said, while placing his right palm over my head. Then I told him all about the kitten. Fr. Paul said that it’s a common occurrence in church premises, that kittens are often abandoned by their mothers. He then directed the young teens to just bring the kitten to somebody who’s name I wasn’t able to hear anymore. At least, the kitten will be in safe hands. I hope.

I went back inside the church, the first batch of Mass goers already leaving. Wearily, I went to the historic Cross of Tunasán to say a prayer of thanks. And when the 9:30 AM Mass was about to start, I gaped by the stained glass window to look for the young lady carrying Concepción in her arms. They were gone. I prayed to Our Lady to have mercy on her namesake kitten.

“But what was the meaning of all this cat caper this morning?” I asked myself. Perhaps none. But that’s just me, trying to connect unusual occurrences and find meaning in them most of the time.

Mother cats are notoriously known for abandoning their litter. If you scare it away, it will be the first to run, leaving its kittens behind. Such phenomenon, if you may, has transferred to some human mothers. We are at a time and age when mothers no longer care for their children — just think of the growing number of abortion cases all over the world, or cases of child prostitution, or those who are left to fend for themselves as child laborers. But the Immaculate Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ never abandoned her only begotten Son, even if He was accused of so many things. And even up to His last moments on the cross, she was there.

May she never abandon her faithful children in Christ.

¡Feliz fiesta de Inmaculada Concepción, Santa Patrona de Filipinas!

Lobó, Batangas needs our dire support

I’ve never been to Lobó, Batangas. But the closest that my family and I have been there was when we visited the charming pebbled shores of Kamantigue Beach in Batangas City a few years ago, and whenever we visit the popular but still pristine beaches of Barrio Laíya in nearby San Juan. And since Lobó’s whitish coastlines are wedged between the scenic beaches of Batangas City and San Juan, it’s not difficult to surmise how they look like: paradisiacal to say the least. Of course, there’s good ol’ Mr. Google to rely on if you need to see the natural beauty of Lobó from the comfort of your homes.

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Gerthel Beach Resort (photo: My Resorts Batangas)

But Lobó’s natural beauty is in grave danger. Just this morning, a friend alerted me about a planned mining operation that could take place there anytime. He shared to me a video which was uploaded on Facebook by the Southern Tagálog Exposure three days ago (as of this writing, it now has 1,060 shares, 339 reactions, and 38,863 views). The video is actually a five-minute documentary spoken in Batangueño dialect because the interviewees are residents themselves of Lobó, including the parish priest. All of them clearly explained their reasons why they are against mining.

Monte Naguiling (photo: City Boy Tripper).

It doesn’t take rocket science to determine the ills of mining, whether government-sanctioned or not. Time and again, we keep on hearing news reports about mining companies  and their local political lackeys being the real winners while the residents barely receive a trickle of the profits, if at all. And the worst victim, of course, is nature. Because once destroyed, the damage is irreversible.

Pico de Laláyag (photo: All Events)

Five years ago, ABS-CBN’s Ted Failón made an investigative report about the pros and cons of mining in our country. Although it is well-known that Failón is anti-mining, his documentary may still be considered as well-balanced (despite its obvious derision of mining companies) because he was able to interview both pro- and anti-mining individuals in our country’s mining hotspots such as Caraga and Surigáo del Norte. President Rodrigo Duterte himself praised Failón’s documentary in his recent SONA. In the end, that Failón documentary has clearly proven that modern mining produces more ecological and social ills than economic cures.

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Punta Malabrigo Beach Resort (photo: Trip Advisor).

According to the video that was shared to me, Mindoro Resources Ltd., a Canadian-based mining corporation, is the company that is currently leading the planned mining explorations in the mountains of Lobó (and even nearby Batangas City). The company believes that the land covering these areas are high in gold, copper, and nickel content. Once they are given the go-signal by local government units and other concerned offices such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, then say goodbye to the beautiful beaches and mountains that you see on this blogpost. “Responsible mining”, whatever that is, is still a myth insofar as residents of mining communities are concerned. What has been in existence is irresponsible mining, something that might not be corrected in our lifetime due to rapacious greed.

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Monte Lobó (photo: Jovial Wanderer).

What is disturbing is that there seems to be lack of media interest (short of a news blackout, according to my source) regarding the circumstances behind the planned mining of Lobó’s beautiful landscape, as it is more focused on government-sanctioned extrajudicial killings and the suppression of fake news. But a terrible catastrophe is brewing in Batangas Province, and all of us ought to know about it. Late last month, aerial bombings were reported in Lobó’s Mount Banoí, said to be the mountain which is of high interest to Mindoro Resources Ltd. Those bombings, according to one media report, was said to be a military operation against alleged communist rebels. When my family visited Kamantigue Beach, which was just a few kilometers away from Lobó, I didn’t hear about any communist activity in the surrounding areas (I have a penchant of asking around for NPAs during our out-of-town trips to faraway places simply out of curiosity). If there was indeed any communist activity, I don’t believe that it’s that big to merit any aerial bombing. Islamic terrorists in western Mindanáo deserve better.

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Monte Banoi, considered as the fifth most biologically diverse mountain in Filipinas (photo: Discover).

If we are able to create human barricades to protect an ideal, a political cause, or even a politician, why not do the same for nature? Besides, Lobó belongs to all of us Filipinos. Only we should be allowed to determine its destiny, not some foreign entity.