Youth around the country simultaneously danced in front of the presidentiable’s headquarters yesterday, urging the candidates to include ecological agriculture, food security, and the issues on climate change in their political agenda.
The headquarters of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City, Vice President Jejomar Binay in Manila, Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares in Baguio City, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago in Bacolod City and Secretary Mar Roxas in Cebu City flocked by the youth, led by #IAmHampaslupa campaigners, who did a flash mob.
Aside from the dance, the youth organization also handed a call to action statements to the candidates which recounted the plight of the more than thousand El-Nino-stricken farmers in Kidapawan City and Koronadal City who became victims of violence due to agricultural crisis.
“Our current agriculture system is not capable of providing any acceptable and just solutions to this very real problem. The lack of timely and appropriate actions that could have prepared our farmers from the impacts of climate change is very evident in the past administrations,” the IamHampaslupa groups said in a statement.
John Paul Abelgas, an IamHampaslupa member, said the group dance was their last resort to channel their message as it was not given the chance of the limelight during the presidential debates.
“We have expressed these statements to the candidates before and hoped that they will include it in the first presidential debate which was held at Cagayan de Oro but it was still not discussed up until the last debate,” said Abelgas.
“The next administration of this country must lead the immediate transition to ecological agriculture, a farming system that puts back farming into the hands of small farmers, allowing safe and sustainable food production,” the statement added.
The number of indigenous families who benefitted from the family planning method has increased, inversely affecting maternal death rates, the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) reported.
The report is based on the implementation of the Indigenous People’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Nutrition (IP-M-N-CHN) project.
The reproductive health program intends to decrease the number of maternal deaths in five ancestral domains in Mindanao which are Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, Compostela Valley Province, North Cotabato and Zamboanga del Sur.
The report revealed that contraceptive use in the five target ancestral domains has also rose for the past three years of the programs implementation.
For maternal deaths, Compostela Valley recorded one case last year from five cases reported in 2013 and there were two cases in Bukidnon last year. Meanwhile, there are no more cases reported in Agusan del Sur, North Cotabato, and Zamboanga del Sur since last year.
Many Lumad mothers have also given birth in health facilities in these areas since the start of the program.
Dr. Enrique Tayag, Director IV of the Bureau of Local Health Systems Development of the Department of Health (DOH) said the project served as an eye-opener for other government agencies on the health status and situation of the Lumad.
“The project systematically was aimed at improving access to maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition services. That is very important because we want to be aligned with MDG (Millenium Development Goals) and SDG (Sustainable Development Goals),” said Tayag.
Tayag added that the programs helped in keeping maternal and infant deaths among the Lumad communities in Mindanao which remained unrecorded.
“We want to get information from the indigenous people (IP) communities, their ancestral domains, their practices, behavior and how they think about their health issues,” he added.
The agencies also hoped to make the IP especially women, to understand the importance of pre-natal check-ups and the supervision of doctors and nurses in giving birth for safe delivery.
“We have received feedbacks that the IP members will be surprised when the LGUs (Local Government Units) would impose restrictions on all deliveries and that all deliveries should be facility-based,” said Tayag.
The IP-M-N-CHN project is funded by the Europian Union (EU) and supported by the UNPF. The implementation started in January 2013 spearheaded by the DOH and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
But the EU have extended the duration of the project until December this year. With this, the DOH, NCIP and UNPF plan to expand the reach the of the beneficiaries to support the other health needs of the Lumads.
“Initially, there were five ancestral domains but because of their successes, it is funded to cover more domains,” said Tayag.
“We want to capacitate agencies as well as civil society organizations (CSOs) and even IP organizations how to plan and implement plans,” he added.
It is only when you are closer that you will be able to appreciate things.
But it sounds easier said than done when you do it to birds.
I was fortunate enough to participate in a seminar related to communicating biodiversity. The seminar gave me the chance to birdwatch, or simply, marvel at the magnificence of the diversity of birds through binoculars.
At around 6:30 in the morning, I and my colleagues arrived at the Philippine Eagle Center, the sanctuary of the national symbol, the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) for a guided birdwatching to set the mood for our seminar.
I was wrong when I thought of birdwatching as a tour to their caged birds, mostly belongs to the family of raptors such as the Brahminy Kites and White-bellied Sea Eagles. I undermined the whole birdwatching idea. It was harder than I thought.
We were asked to grab binoculars and bird guides with a stressful instruction: If you spot a bird, describe what it looked like and check it on your 1-inch thick, glossy-printed bird books. Stressful because it is my first time to do it and perhaps, just like anybody else, I see all birds the same. I think just seeing them is enough, I told myself.
After a while, we started to search the forest. We were looking up most of the time. Our guide Ej was skillful enough to understand the chirps and pointing us where it came from and what kind of birds are singing it-something that I also wanted to learn. Nightingales have amusing bird calling patterns. Melodic. Enchanting.
I was so desperate to find a bird. They were elusive, playful or blending in the canopies. How I wish I had that powerful vision eagles have. These raptors can see eight times farther than that of the humans. So I would not need binoculars. By the end of the activity, I was lucky to have found around five of them, usually rufous nightingales, Olive-backed sunbirds and fantails.
I was elated by their forms, colors, sounds and of course, their freedom. Their freedom to glide and flap their wings tree to another, perch on the branches, sing and call calms every tired sense. And it became possible because the trees provided them abode. They are far from threats of being killed in whatever way humans are capable of. They contributed to the protection and thriving of nature to the greatest extent they can do.
Not until we passed by Fighter.
The 3-year old eagle sat in his area, trying to hide his injured wings. He was gunshot in the mountains of Don Salvador, Mati, Davao Oriental that caused the amputation the main feather part of his left wing.
With the help of a staff at the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), we were able to take a groufie with him.
Fighter was not alone in the fight. Several other eagles were shot, most of them killed. The Philippine Eagles, being the largest and most powerful raptor in the world, the kind of bird only found in our country are also one of the most vulnerable to extinction. They are now critically endangered.
According to PEF, their existence is in danger because of two wrong practices: shooting and trapping, and deforestation. On February 24 this year, a national paper reported that an eagle named “Matatag” was shot by brothers in Baranggay Tambobong, Baguio District in Davao City.
According to Leonardo Pamplona, station commander of Baguio Police Station, the brothers Tiburcio, 24 and Rolando Aparesio, 18 mistook that the eagle was preying for their farm chickens so the older brother shot it with a caliber .22 rifle and hit eagle’s wings. The brothers, however voluntarily surrendered after bringing the wounded eagle to the PEF. Matatag was released by the PEF sometime in January last year. Read:Brothers surrender after shooting ‘Matatag’
On January 25, 2016, a one-year-old hawk-eagle died after being gunshot hitting the left lower breast. The bird was found at Quintuinan Hills of Camalig town in Albay. Read:Rare PH hawk-eagle shot dead in Albay
And on August 16, 2015, “Pamana” was killed after being shot in her right breast shattering her left shoulder. Her dead body was seen near the creek in Mount Hamiguitan Range in Davao Oriental, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site and recently enlisted as one of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Heritage Parks. Pamana was released by the PEF into the wild during the Independence Day. Read:Philippine Eagle Pamana found shot dead in Davao Oriental
The destruction the Philippine Eagles’ natural habitat also posed a threat to their existence. These wild raptors dwell in the rainforest and nests on large, old dipterocarp trees in lowland forests. Mountains and rainforests were gradually losing their potential to become home to the birds due to deforestation.
Benjamin Gregory Cruz, Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) Program Field Manager for Mt. Apo Region said one of the manners of deforestation is by debarking trees. People kill trees by gradually scraping its barks. They make the death of the tree an excuse to cut it down.
The recent forest fire incident at the peak of Mt. Apo last March 26, 2016 also jeopardized national bird’s habitat. The fire lasted for about three weeks and destroyed an estimated 1,000 hectares.
Adding to the list of causes of their endangerment are hunting for food and trade, collections, and pollution. Source: Bagheera
BUT WHY BOTHER?
We should save, protect, and conserve the Philippine Eagle because “it is an important natural and cultural heritage. It is a powerful symbol by which our people can rally around for the conservation of our natural resources. They also reign over the forest ecosystem, providing an umbrella of protection for all other species sharing its rainforest home. Their presence in the forests is an indicator of a healthy ecosystem”. (Philippine Eagle Foundation).
Put it in context, if the forest is healthy, our water sources such as our watersheds are sustainable. The PEF added that “a healthy forest helps control soil erosion, mitigate the effects of climate change, minimize flooding, and provides additional sources of food, medicine, clothing, and shelter for our people.”
They are endemic to the Philippines, one of the world’s rarest and has an alarming number of 400 pairs left in the country.
Another contributing factor in their dwindling population is their slow reproduction. They only lay one egg every two years. Parent eagles wait for their offspring to make it on their own (usually within two years) before producing another.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
We are no experts in handling, monitoring, and other technical stuff in protecting and preserving our national pride. But this should not be the reason not to do it. We have a lot in our hands than we thought. Here are some actions I can suggest we can do as ordinary citizens:
Initiate or Participate in Tree Planting Activities. You build a house when you don’t have one. And since our birds have been losing their homes, we should help in rebuilding it. Reforestation is the basic counter to deforestation. Plus, it benefits the ecosystem and supports biodiversity as a whole.
Volunteer in education campaigns and advocacies. “There is always strength in numbers,” says Mark Shields. Encourage more people to join the cause. Tug their heartstrings by educating them about the Philippine Eagles and what they can do to help protect and preserve them.
Report. Whenever you encounter incidents of cruelty to the Philippine Eagles in your community or you found a suspected eagle in your area, please don’t have second thoughts. Report them to your local Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office (DENR) or City Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO). You can also tap private environment organizations such as the Philippine Eagle Foundation.
Donate. The programs and initiatives for the protection and conservation of the Philippine Eagles also need financial help. So if you might as well drop quite handful of pennies. It is one way to invest in our future and the future of the next generation.
Birds in general, are agents of dispersal, helping in the spreading of seeds and plant. They control pests and insects, saving crops and other plants from devastation. Source:Iowa Nature Mapping
Thus, aside from possessing an innate charm, they are an aid in keeping the balance in the world we live in.
As I watched and waited for other birds to flaunt their majestic forms, I alternately bend my neck to ease the pain. I wondered, what if there are no longer birds to look up to, perhaps, the pain would be much agonizing because of a destroyed environment.
That is when there are no more birds to watch.
Thanks to the Philippine Eagle Foundation, ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, ASEAN, and Youth Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) most especially to Ms. Karen Lapitan for the opportunity.
In case you wanted to join in the cause of the Philippine Eagle Foundation such as to Donate, Adopt or Volunteer, check out their website by clicking their logo.
The moment the woman, who by that time stood in the middle of the platform, clad in her long, black dress, tickled the chords of her acoustic guitar, a sort of energy charge seemed to flow, passing through my spine down to my bloodstream and playfully stimulating the roots of my body hairs.
I was scampering, thinking I was too late for Ethnica Music Fusion, a gathering of local artists, bands and nationally- and internationally-acclaimed performers and entertainers at the Matina Town Square Pavilion last April 16, 2016.
I was not even certain if the woman who was entertaining the audience – a mix local artists, indie singers and composers, musically-inclined fellows, and mountaineers who volunteered to put off the Mt. Apo fire, was the first person to dominate the stage.
But it did not bother me. What bothered me is that she is no just a woman, but she is MAAN CHUA, a nationally-recognized Dabawenya musician. If not because of handling a radio program that plays folk rock and country songs, I would have not known her better. She is my idol.
Maan Chua started making a name in the music industry after winning Tunog Mindanaw World Music Competition in 2013. Her winning piece was entitled “T’nalak”.
A sample of T’nalak.
I scoured for a comfortable seat. Thanks to the organizers, specifically Air Asia Airlines and the City Tourism Office for making it extremely free that I was able to sit just two rows away from the stage.
Maan was on her three to the last song. And those roughly 12 minutes of jam, I was taken to a paradise.
Her second to the last song spoke about the diverse definition of human to wealth, richness, bounty. She asked, “What for you is to be wealthy? Is it if you have a lot of money, cars or material possessions? Or you can say you are rich enough if you have family, friends or relationships? Have you ever considered your health or the nature treasures? Or is it having God makes you the richest man on earth?” It depends on you.
She ended her set with one of my favorite songs of her. It is a tribute to our land of birth, Mindanao. The prelude just makes me cry for joy and feel proud.
The musical indulgence did not stop there. Next on the set is the local band THEA, a Dabawenyo group led by Thea Pitogo. I did not know her that much but one of my closest friends is a fan. She was on her way to the venue when THEA started playing.
The Davao indie rock band is composed of Thea Pitogo, the female lead vocalist and on ukelele, Toby Tubio is on lead guitars, Topee Lim on acoustic guitar, John Paul Jaso on bass guitar, Darryl Tingzon on keyboards and finally, Jacob Elemento on drums.
Actually, they rocked! I was surprised, or shocked. A blissful kind of shock. Their music carved a spot in my soul (aside from her cute band members, of course. Haha).
All I knew was, I was there to listen. I did not expect I’ll have more than that.
The song “Ano” was familiar. I liked it for the melancholic sound, putting you in a temporary trance. Or at least the way I prefer to describe it. But I was overwhelmed when JAD MONTENEGRO sang it in front of us. She was behind that hypnosis.
When does ethnic tunes and rock or perhaps contemporary and modern beat combine? It is when KUNTAW MINDANAO plays them.
The band hails from Davao del Norte but their music have reached millions of people around the world, bagging international and local awards, just like the aforementioned artists. They have started to make waves when they championed Musikahan sa Tagum in 2008 and participated in Sharq taronalari (Melodies of Orient), a biennial traditional music fest from different countries, held in Uzbekistan.
The name KUNTAW is actually Kreative Union of Today’s Artists and Writers.
For the nth time, I was amazed by how little I know about the artists creating the music that I enjoy. I ended up dumbfounded as they play exotically familiar beats.
More other local artists have joined the fusion: The Anne Mendoza Band, Kevin Bacira, Lukas, Talentadong Pinoy 2014 Grand Winner and Asia’s Got Talent Semi Finalist Beatboxer Neil Llanes, Popong Landero and Tribu K’Mindanawan.
Indeed, it was a fusion of music, a celebration of art, nature, peace, cultural sensitivity, society, unity in differences, and love-in all of its forms, valuable themes that mainstream music industries most of the time fail to promote.
The one of the best tags? It is authentic Mindanawon or Davao music. And I love them all! It is something that will make you a proud Dabawenyo.
I thought it was the fire dance by Tribu K’Mindanawan that punctuates the night’s auditory adventure. But not until this…
DAVAO CITY — About 73 pupils from the Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanugon (Unite to Defend Ancestral Land) Community Learning Center, Inc. successfully finished Grade 1 to Grade 5 for the school year 2015-2016 today.
The recognition ceremony was held at the Assumption College of Davao.
The children were among the hundreds of displaced Lumads because of the alleged militarization in their communities and have been staying in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran Compound since October last year.
Salugpongan Basic Education Principal Ronie Garcia said they are proud of the determination of the pupils despite the situation, but at the same time saddened that they were not able to conduct the moving up ceremony in their communities.
“We are happy that despite the challenges, our children were able to celebrate their successes, but we are also sad that instead of celebrating it in their communities, schools, and ancestral lands, they are doing it here in the city,” he said.
Garcia said their call to pull out the military troops dominating their communities in Kapalong and Talaingod, Davao del Norte and in schools have not wavered.
“We are still making efforts and we are continuously calling the pull-out of the militaries in Talaingod, Davao del Norte so that the children can go back to their studies and the people to live in their homes peacefully,” he said.
Garcia said the Lumads will insist to stay longer in UCCP Haran unless the soldiers will let go of their homes.
“As long as there is a threat caused by military and the paramilitary Alamara are still in the highlands, we will not return to our homes,” said Garcia.
He said the provincial and local government of Talaingod, Davao del Norte should act on this so as not to affect the future of the children.
Garcia, however, assured that the operation of the Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and in other parts of the Southern Mindanao Region continue despite the militarization.
Of the 73 pupils, 44 of them were boys while 29 of them were girls.
Following the declaration of the Mt. Hamiguitan as one of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Heritage Parks, the local government of San Isidro, Davao Oriental implemented climbing policies to further conserve its natural bounty.
San Isidro Mayor Justina Yu said they regulated the number of climbers and they can only climb on schedule.
“Once it is open, we will regulate the trekkers who will go up. We will not permit 100 trekkers. It is only up to 20,” she said.
She also said climbers shall use only one trail to the peak.
“We only have one trail because if you provide them with different trails, you will imagine how many plants will be stepped on. This would be the only open trail after we educate all the stakeholders,” said Yu.
Climbers should also be members of a recognized or registered organization and passed the requirements of the Department of Tourism (DOT) before they can be allowed to ascend.
Bringing of cigarettes, lighter and other things that may cause fire are strictly prohibited and climbers can only bring canned goods or ready-to-eat food.
Trekkers should bring their garbages with them when they come down to maintain the cleanliness of the mountain.
On Friday, the ASEAN acknowledges Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) as having a biodiversity importance or exceptional uniqueness from all member countries of ASEAN, thus declared as Heritage Park.
Along with the pronouncement, the provincial government of Davao Oriental opened a museum which exhibits the mountain’s flora and fauna.
MHRWS Project Area Superintendent Ruel Colong said the museum will enable tourists to experience the wilderness of Mt. Hamiguitan without necessarily trekking.
He said a replica of Mt. Hamiguitan can be seen at the Natural Science Museum.
Yu said the policies are in adherence to the rules and regulations of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and ASEAN.
Mt. Hamiguitan was also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List along with Kinabalu National Park of Malaysia, Lorentz National Park of Indonesia, and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park of the Philippines.