For the nth time, numerous so-called “environmental activists” have come under the case of the vapors against tree cutting around Baguio. Once again, I’m inclined to reiterate on how gullible and how off-the-point the people of Baguio are, especially those who claim to be “for the environment.”
Mt. Sto. Tomas, locally known as Cabuyao, is a reservation just outside City limits, harboring a large tree reserve, a watershed and a former US AA radar station that gives the peak its unique look.
Just recently 300 or so pine trees were cut down in Sto. Tomas to widen a road that goes to, of all places, a resort that doubles as an “eco-park.” Apparently the cutting, which was conducted near a vital water source, was done by the brother of current Baguio Congressman Nicasio Aliping Jr.; the latter may be ordered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to pay PhP50,000, or roughly PhP800 for each pine tree.
Time and again, Get Real Philippines has shown that the people of Baguio don’t get the whole picture of why their City has, for a lack of a better term, gone to crap. First, and most importantly, the majority of voters in Baguio used their democratic rights to put the people responsible for these cuttings in the positions they’re in today, in peaceful local elections I might add. Now before any “y-Baguio” reading this essay brings out the true-yet-tired excuse that “our democratic system is corrupt,” they shouldn’t forget that they chose to participate in that system and allow these politicians to claim these seats of office.
In short, don’t blame them for doing it, blame yourselves for electing them in the first place. To say that “oh I didn’t vote for them” is petty and childish, akin to saying “he started it” after a brawl. It only shows how little Baguio people regard the democratic process they claim to exalt.
It would perhaps be better for Baguio to elect someone who does NOT run on a platform of “environmental awareness,” because that person would be honest about his intentions. Years of electing people who supposedly “care for Baguio’s future” have turned the City into a microcosm of what’s wrong with the Philippines when it comes to its natural resources. The fact that Baguio’s national representative (and center of all this current mess) is now the chair of the local chapter of the Liberal Party is a minor digression, but supports the microcosmic view.
Additionally, the cutting of trees in Sto. Tomas overlooks the problem of people turning its slopes into organic vegetable farms such as this one:
Given the increasing popularity of “organic” produce these days, more land would be used for growing such crops; a higher demand would then force farmers to clear larger tracts of land for cultivation. Trees then would then be inevitably felled for these farms, and the cycle continues ad nauseam. Sadly, “environmental activists” in Baguio also prefer to promote the “benefits” of these organic crops (as shown in pseudo-environmental group Save 182’s “Boycott SM” Facebook page) while completely ignoring the fact that organic crops deal a lot more damage to the environment than genetically modified (GMO) crops.
What these “environmentalists” can’t (or won’t) tell you is that GMO crops take less time to grow and less land to use. The yield can be as much as twice that of an organic crop, taking up less space for agriculture, thus giving potential space for trees to grow. The anti-science provocateurs, however, would rather ignore this and destroy these crops due to unsubstantiated claims of “potential harmful effects.” As it turns out, the same people who believe that GMO’s are “evil” often are the same people who think that “vaccines cause autism.” It could therefore be obliquely stated that a conscious and deliberate distortion of scientific facts is causing the destruction of tree reserves on the slopes of Mt. Sto. Tomas.
The graver irony here is the fact that these trees were cut to give way to an “eco-park.” There are quite a growing number of these in Baguio, and I believe that the proliferation of such, despite their innate intentions of “ecological preservation,” actually contributes to the City’s ecological decline. The primary reason for this is the fact that in order for people to get to these places, the infrastructure has to be present. It’s outright hypocrisy when people put up an “eco-park,” then roads have to be constructed and parking lots have to be paved for visitors’ vehicles. And what point is there in trying to look for the quiet sanctity of nature within these “eco-parks” when services within them include animatronic dinosaurs? The purpose of environmental preservation is thus defeated when such a place is turned into a theme park.
If they’re really serious about putting up these ecological reserves, the best way to do it is to put up a nature preserve and KEEP IT OFF LIMITS TO HUMANS. If the government can successfully keep throngs of die-hard spiritual devotees off the slopes of Mt. Banahaw for years at a time (thus ensuring the return of that place’s wilderness areas), the local governments of Baguio and Benguet can certainly keep casual weekenders from climbing the supposedly protected forests of Mt. Sto. Tomas. That is, of course, if the people of Baguio and Benguet don’t fall into the same trap they keep getting into every three years by electing the same type of laughable “pro-environment” candidates over and over again.
More than a year ago, Get Real Philippines writer Paul Farol wrote an essay entitled “Why Baguio is Dying.” I would like to disagree with what he said: Baguio is dead; it got buried under the rubble of the Earthquake of 1990. Just as science has recently proven that it’s now too late to turn back when it comes to climate change, I believe that nothing short of plague or geological cataclysm can reverse what Baguio has evolved into. I’ll close this essay with a comment about Baguio written by Lisa on 3 November 2012, in response to another article by Paul Farol:
“There are no genuine environmental groups here to speak of, the people would rather do battle with a corporation and other co-residents than take on a corrupt government that is party to the degradation. This is why the city looks and behaves as it does now.”
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