Early in the morning, I got involved in a bit of a heated exchange with an anonymous blogger called PJ — a supporter of Project Save 182.
You see, I have a thing against deceptive and dishonest people on the internet. Â I hate people who put up a scheme to dupe thousands of people into supporting causes, which at the end of it, is not really what it claims to be.
What makes it even more puke-worthy is the indignant, self-righteousness that goes with it.
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Self-righteous, pseudo cause oriented groups do more damage than “greedy corporations” especially when they steal attention and support from authentic, well thought out, and carefully implemented causes.
I’ve been told by one or two people from Baguio that PS182 does NOT reflect the sentiments of most of the people in Baguio City — their sentiments being far more expansive than the narrow focus on 182 trees, one mall chain, and an obvious agenda.
Conversations with residents of Baguio City like Lisa Araneta, Grace Bandoy, and AllisonÂ Gundram, as well as conversations with Benguet natives like Louis Pawid, tend to give a more authentic view of the situation and issues in Baguio.
Lisa and Grace have been very vocal about the performance of certain Baguio City and Benguet officials.
I’ve met Lisa personally once or twice and in our long conversation over Alfredo’s famous hamburger, she gave me a three hour briefing on a vast array of political issues involving Â Baguio City and the rest of the Cordillera Autonomous Region . Â It gave me more reason to respect Philippine northern cultures and how for the most part, they tend to solve their problems by themselves — I suspect, this is because of a deeply ingrained trait of self-sufficiency. Â They’re not like some cultures in the Southern Philippines whose leaders have exploited the use of armed groups and secession as a leverage to ask for government funds which they fail to account for later.
Grace has is more vocal about the corruption in Baguio City Hall, pointing out city projects and policy decisions that may have been used by certain officials to make money in the form of kick-backs or unwarranted commissions.
Louis Pawid, a colleague and good friend for many years, immersed me in Benguet culture for a number of months in 2011 and it was in my incursions into the heart of his province that I became aware of the extent of his province’s ecological situation. Â I have a feeling that Louis may lecture me later when I point out that the unimpeded spread of agriculture in Benguet — where entire mountains are planted with cabbage,Â broccoli, string beans and sayote — is probably ruining the ecology of the uplands.
Next to agriculture, the other avenues for development in Benguet are mining and tourism — both of which have their own challenges as far as sustainability are concerned.
So, from Louis’ standpoint, charting the development for Benguet is a tricky problem. Â But I wouldn’t worry too much about it, because, as I have said, our northern Philippine cultures have an ingrained trait of self-sufficiency. Â I have faith that they’ll sort out their problems.
Is Project Save 182 really an environmental group? Â Some of the things I’ve seen them doing Â and the people who are vocally supporting them online make me a bit suspicious.
Sure, “saving the trees” can easily be lumped together with all other environmental causes and look like one, until you get a whiff of what’s really happening over in most of Benguet — where Baguio is just a small part of.
I have my doubts about Project Save 182 because instead of connecting the ‘earth balling issue’ as an eye-opener to the bigger issue of entire pine forests being replaced by vegetable farms, rice fields, subdivisions, and squatter colonies, it seems they’ve spun off into an attack on the entire SM brand.
Now, some people who support the group are now also ranting about SM’s labor policies. Â Contractualization, they say, is another ‘evil’ that SM is doing — in response to which, I would probably point out that joblessness and informal labor arrangements are worse and more prevalent.
For sure, people allied with Project Save 182 will make sure other issues will crop up against SM as they wear out or retire their ‘environmentalist’ veneer.
In the meantime, well, people will still be going to the mall — if not SM’s mall, then Rustans or Robinsons or what-have-you.
In fact, All Souls Day is coming up and I am sure, all the people that PS182 and Boycott SM wants to keep away from the mall chain will definitely turn up in the hundreds of thousands with plastic pumpkin trick or treat pails and cheap costumes.
I suppose PS182 will raise a holler and it will be drowned out by the sounds of cash registers beeping and sales girls greeting everyone “mamser”.
The Boycott SM Facebook Page or Group doesn’t have to bother with me, I am no fan of SM.
I used to like going to the mall, but over the years I began hating going to the mall, any mall. Â I don’t like the crowds in it, I don’t like breathing recycled air even if it is cool, I don’t like the garish displays, I don’t like the being constantly prodded to buy stuff I do not need, having been a trained salesman in my early adulthood I hate sales people who don’t know enough about what they are selling, and I don’t like the intense commercialism of these places — as if we aren’t bombarded enough by commercials, it has to come in the form of a poorly paid girl or guy hawking a brochure or begging you to try out free samples.
Whenever I want to spend time outside my house, I spend it at the Marikina Sports Plaza with my kid and we have a lot of fun running around the place. Â It is far healthier than breathing recycled air while gobbling up what passes for food in food courts or walking around looking at all the cheap stuff Made In China.
And before I end this fourth piece on PS182, let me just point out that it’s absolute stupidity for PS182 to crow about Sting’s decision to change concert venues as a victory for their online campaign.
For one, as I have mentioned in a previous post, the new venue will be in a place that is TRAFFIC ridden on ordinary days. Â Just imagine how it would be like when Sting stages his concert there! OMG! Â Is that at all a triumph for Captain Planet? I don’t think so.
Concerts aren’t exactly environmentally friendly,Â U2â€²s 44 concerts is equal to carbon created by the four band members traveling the (34) million miles from Earth to Mars in a passenger plane.
Another is that online campaigning uses the INTERNET, which accounts forÂ 300 million tonnes of CO2 â€“ as much as all the coal, oil and gas burned in Turkey or Poland in one year, or more than half of those burned in the UK. Â Moreover, all the gadgets andÂ equipment used by online campaigners come from MINING — which not only involves the destruction of forests but also pollutes the earth and water.