Organic Farms and “Eco-Parks” are Ruining Baguio’s Mountainsides

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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.

stotomasradar_zps682abe3a

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:

baguio_5

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.”

[Sto. Tomas radar doshes photo courtesy of Pinoy Mountaineer. Vegetable terrace photo courtesy of Weekend Trip Baguio.]

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14 Comments on “Organic Farms and “Eco-Parks” are Ruining Baguio’s Mountainsides”

  1. all know but no one seems to underscore the fact that the same people have been in city hall for 20 years plus…they just play the game of merry go round….they have been in office longer than the deposed dictator!

    1. The sad part is that the people of Baguio VOTE to keep them there. CONSCIOUSLY and VOLUNTARILY.

      And those that they claim to be “alternatives” to the incumbents are more or less in the same political basket.

      In Baguio, it always has been a choice between the corrupt or the incompetent (which somehow is just like Philippine national politics), and the Baguio electoral race in 2016 is gearing up to look like the same damn thing.

      1. Interesting article, though we should all be aware that most of the voters in Baguio are not actually from Baguio. Even the said elected officials. Sad reality right there.

        1. Are we sure that the voters are not from Baguio? Where are the statistics that prove this claim?

          Until there’s concrete evidence for such, then it would be best to put forward the assumption that Baguio’s ills are created by the people of Baguio themselves.

  2. It is unfortunate that such a brother of a politician is the one denuding the forest of Baguio…soon more lanslides will occur in the place. Organic Farming is just a fad. Farming without the use of commercial fertilizer is organic fartming. Commercial fertilizer is the same as the natural fertilizer, because the chemical elements in it, like Nitrogen, etc…are of the same atomic structure.

    The behaviour of that person that is denuding the Pine forest of Baguio is just plain greed. Yet, the people of Baguio do not even raise a voice of complain…it is apathy and passivity on the part of the people. They allow themselves to be abused.

  3. It’s insulting really… The brightest minds of our country are doing everything they can on improving food production, yet here these boneheads are furthering their dubious agenda with unsubstantiated claims. The scientific process is something that could not be respected in this anti-intellectual society that we painfully still have now.

    I’ll be an Agriculture student soon, so I should be offended by this.

  4. In the world of Agribusiness, the farmers gets just one-third of the profits they get from their yield. The rest of the money goes to bodies in charge of transportation, processing, packaging, refrigerating, marketing and etcetera. What we’ve seen in the last sixty years is that chemically-modified pesticides, fertilizers, and, of course, seeds have been thrown into that mix; if there are any real evils to these, it is that these are prone to corruption and if there is any then it’s the people fault for putting in place the bodies responsible anyway. Blame those who use them, not the tools.

  5. Food production is not denuding the forest.
    California, U.S.A. is where most of the vegetables and fruits are grown, in the U.S.. They did not denude their forests to grow these plants. Same as Mexico. They have vegetable growing provinces also. Mexico did not denude its forest to grow their crops.
    These crops are not even grown in terraced mountains. They are grown in plains.

    Other South American countries also do the same. They grow crops and export it to other countries.

    It is in the process of growing, that the Philippines cannot grow and sustain the needs of its consumer…

    We have research centers, like the Rice Research Center in Los Banos, Laguna. However, we are still importing tons and tons of rice. The Vietnamese come and study in the Rice Research Center…grow a lot of rice; and export them to the Philippines…how stupid can you get?

  6. All of the elections in the country are potentially rigged, if the wrong person is going to win…the rigging occurs. It is a no win situation for the people.
    To say that in an ‘oblique way’ that ‘deliberate distortions’ of ‘scientific facts’ is responsible for the destruction of the trees involved is just completely laughable.

    It appears that yet another elected official has given a government contract to a family member and that family memeber has taken it upon himself to cut down the fuckin trees for a huge profit. It is that simple.No need to complicate it. To say otherwise is to ‘distort’ the facts and accuse others of what the person making the statement is actually doing.It can be seen in the country done in countless situations and is one of the things that earns Filipino’s their derogatory moniker:FLIP.

    if you need to submit a certain number of lines in order to get an article published here at GRP, there has to a better way to do it than that.

    that the trees are being cut down across the entire archipeligo and being sold at below market prices to people who not only do not give a shit about the trees but neither do they care about the people who will no doubt be affected by the flooding that will surely follow due to the absence of said trees, is one totally sorry ass state of affairs. The entire country is being sold out from under the people by the scumabg established oligarch’s that have a stranglehold on the entire economy and government support for their wrong-doings. It is pretty simple.

    It has been stated by MOI, here many many times and it will be repeated here again,NOW: Only a complete annihilation of the established order is going to change what is going on in the country. It could be accomplished very easily and in a very short time frame. Death is not even a requirement. It is only necessary to show the enemy that you are willing to die to get done what needs to be done.

    This has a very chilling effect on the transgressor’s because they believe that people fear losing their mortal beings. But, but, but with such a low price on life and such an utterly shit quality of life afforded to such masive numbers of pople in the country that the life that might be lost is not worth that much and is not considered to high a price to pay. 1,000 people willing to die for what they believe in (the key word here??? WILLING) shall dictate to 1,000,000,000 people.THEY WILL.

    What you all are waiting for is beyond comprehension.

    1. What you wrote is basically the same trap others fell in: that only the government is to blame.

      Sure, we have that situation where an elected official squandered his position in relation to the environment, but again, the emphasis is on the PEOPLE who do the same thing, regardless of whoever is in power.

      And by “annihilation of the established order,” you pretty much seem to be in favor of anarchy and a breakdown not just of a rotten system but also of systems which have been proven useful.

      Your semantics are eerily similar to what “The Zeitgeist Movement” would say.

  7. It never ceases to amaze me that people who know nothing about farming seem to feel qualified to hold forth on the subject.

    First off, there is no such thing as “organic” farming. The word is a catch-all for a huge range of techniques, some of which are sensible, and some of which as stupid. Modern chemical-free farming systems that use polycultures, animals and trees integrated into the system produce 2-5 times more profit than chemical-fed GMO monocultures, while continually improving the soil. The terraces in the pictures are the WRONG way of doing it: this is basically just traditional agriculture without the chemicals, which simply doesn’t work. At least not for more than a couple of years.

    The reason GMOs are problematic is not because of the modifications per se. ALL modern crops are genetically enhanced. GMOs, however, are specifically designed to be used as monocultures with agrochemicals, and are invariably sterile. The economics are dubious, monocultures are inherently dumb (especially in monsoon climates), and the farmer is beholden to the seed supplier for evermore. It’s essentially a race to the bottom, similar to allowing farmers to use drugs or cruel methods in meat production: once one person uses them, the price falls, everyone else has to use them, and everyone is worse off than they were to start with.

    I wouldn’t touch GMOs with a bargepole, for the simple fact that I can make way more money using natural methods – without destroying the soil.

    1. First of all, your claim that GMO’s are sterile has been debunked:

      http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/10/18/163034053/top-five-myths-of-genetically-modified-seeds-busted

      Secondly, farmers who use GMO’s are not “beholden” to seed suppliers; that’s been debunked as well:

      http://debunkingdenialism.com/2013/07/04/unraveling-five-popular-anti-gmo-claims/

      Third, large-scale “natural” farming in the Cordilleras, especially in the Benguet region, cannot be done with the methods you most likely know due to a forced system of pesticides and greenhouse farming (which invariably consumes more electrical energy):

      http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jeph/2009/412054/

  8. Nobody is forcing farmers to use pesticides. They use them because they’re idiots, and because the people advising them are idiots.
    This doesn’t change the fact that better methods are possible.

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