Youths Clamor for Genuine Rehabilitation Efforts for Sierra Madre

Infanta, Quezon –Four years after the implementation of Presidential Proclamation 413 by then President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, declaring September 26 of every year as Save Sierra Madre Day, the Sierra Mountain Range still faces threats due to various development aggression projects, says  Southern Tagalog for Environmental Development and Protection (STEP-Sierra Madre) – an environmental youth organization in Quezon, Rizal and Laguna; as they hold an Environmental Youth Summit on September 25 entitled SIERRA MADRE: NAGMAHAL, NASAKTAN, NAGPAPASAGIP SA MAMAMAYANG MAKAKALIKASAN.

While the group welcomes the move of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to order a moratorium to some mining industry operations, “it is imperative to do the same to other destructive business ventures like forest-land conversion that paved way to making Sierra Madre as a spot to Eco-Tourism projects. Permits are still given to few big logging concessionaires those rampantly cutting trees even at the heart of the forested area, while Greening programs prioritize plants like rattan, jathropa, kamoteng-kahoy, yellow corn for bio-diesel, and  used as raw materials in lined with industries’ demands instead of planting native variety of trees,” Mark Almazan – chairperson of STEP-SM lamented.

A month ago, Sierra Madre as a seat for planned construction of big dams made it to the hot spot when four died and two other workers still missing when trapped inside the tunnel of the on-going building of Sumag River Diversion Project in General Nakar, Quezon on the onslaught of South Easterly Wind or Hanging Habagat.

Sumag Dam is designed to optimize the water supply for the Umiray-Angat Transbasin Project, while four more big dams are set to be built in the Kaliwa Transbasin namely: New Centennial Water Source- Kaliwa Dam, Agos Dam, Kanan Dam and Laiban Dam that are expected to enclose major river system in Rizal and Northern Quezon that are feared to endanger many lives to many residents and deprive free access to water and irrigation to agricultural lands in the area.

“Sierra Madre, like all other natural environment has its’ carrying capacity. And at this point, it already reached its limit,” says Almazan. “Thus, rehabilitation effort must be given priority instead of allowing more commercial ventures, even erroneous government projects like the exclusion of more than 10, 000 hectares of lands under Presidential Proclamation 196 from being a Protected Area – that led the way to the distribution of lands to more than 4, 000 CLOA holders that are supposedly small farmers and rebel returnees in Real, Quezon.”

“Unfortunately this became an effective route to concentrate the land to few big businessmen as the farmers have no capacity in the first place to cultivate the lands because it does not fall to agricultural land category as it is 18 slopes above sea level, added by Almazan.

“All these projects, made us think that our dreams preserving our shelter, our culture and securing our Ancestral Domain gets farther and farther, says Jhonny Azcarraga of Dunong at Dangal ng Makabagong Dumagat (DUMAGAT).

“Like the popular hugot memes Nagmahal, Nasaktan…, Sierra Madre loved us, without hesitation shared its bounty to the people that are dependent to her. But now, people are hurting her by extracting all the possible wealth that can get from her for profit at the expense of its’ destruction. Only us can patch things up, by exposing all these destructive activities and be part of a collective efforts toward achieving a sustainable and nature-friendly society”, ended by Almazan.###


DAM-DAM-MIN(Damdamin naming Anti-Dam)

ni Sarah Jane Espiritu

Centennial dam ating pigilan
pagka’t ito’y banta sa’ting buhay.
Industriyalisasyon at kaunlaran
ay hindi sa ganitong paraan.

Naninirahan ay palilikasin,
kabundukan ay lalong sisirain,
katubigan ay iigahin
alang-alang sa kikitain.

Kelan kaya tatanaw
sa panlipunang kapakanan,
hindi sa iilang busog ang bulsa at tiyan
na mandarambong ng kalikasan?

Dam dam dam
dambuhalang dam
ating pigilan! ‘wag payagan!
pahirap sa mamamayan
walang pakiramdam!


by Jhewoung Jhewoung

I was me, as far as you can see,
Me that was naturally perfect beauty,
Me that was created with the love,
Me, who was given with above.
I was me, green, blue and white,
Oh! commoners, you had seen me as light.
Me, that gave you people a peace of mind,
Me, who was only felt by the blind.
I was me, who gave you everything.
Me, you wanted and needed for something,
Me, who was asking to a friend,
To take good care of me, even in the end.
Dam is on my top
Dynamite is on my sea-lap
Legal and illegal logging on my side
That causes me to landslide
People who lived and still living,
When will you start caring?
Do I still have to kill you painfully?
So that you will know I’m in agony?
I am ruined and I am lost
By the people whom I served the most
And yet you chose to destroy me,
To give you pleasure no matter what it would cause me.
People on earth, look at me now.
Is this your intention and vow?
How could you say love,
If letting me ruined is not from above?
You people aim for gold situation,
Even if, it causes my life because of pollution,
Why you didn’t even ask me if I wanted to be in that situation?
Do you think it can be a solution?
I guess that is too such!
Because I know you’ll never care that much.
For I’ve known you cause I am made vast,
And surely will see you dying for I’ll stand last.

*Jhewoung is currently an organizer of Youth for Nationalism and Democracy in Quezon. He’s a proud member of the LGBT community and a leader – organizer from the True Colors Coalition – ST calling for gender rights and equality.