Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fist From Mindoro

I suddenly felt upset when I saw the legendary Pedro Adigue, Jr. at the opponent’s corner that night. The former World Boxing Council (WBC) Light Welterweight Champion perhaps took a break from the movies and came to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. The older Adigue, who defeated Adolph Pruitt in 1968, was here that time to support his nephew and protégée Chito Adigue. The old Pedro presumably taught this young relative of his everything from the books on punching and footwork. But the Joe Francisco-Chito Adigue match at San Jose Municipal Gymnasium that night of May 16, 1981 was a non title fight. Diomedes “Joe” Francisco from Brgy. Batasan, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro was then a ring sensation in Philippine Boxing scene. He was our local hero.

The younger Adigue’s killer left hook,- which was actually a lucky punch, landed on his jaw on the 6th round of the bout ended not only the career of Francisco but our high hopes to see our very own fighter climb up the ring for a world championship fight. The Adigue’s uncle- and- nephew tandem shattered all our dreams. Our hero was even mauled in front of his province mates. His home court advantage suddenly turned into nightmare. We have cursed then his manager, the referee, the promoters and practically everyone behind that heartbreaking non-title fight. That fight,- for many of us, was just a “money making” thing. Seeing our hero kneeled on the canvass while pain was written all over his face made us cry, almost. A sorry event that is not easy to forget until now.

But to close the career of our local boxing legend, here’s his stats after his retirement in 1982: a total of 26 fights; 23 wins; 1 draw; 2 losses. Francisco was the #1 Philippine Junior Featherweight contender and #3 in the OPBF or the Orient Pacific Boxing Federation that time. Francisco, now an officer of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and residing in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro with his wife, the former Loyalyn “Bing Bing” Hilario, with their three young boys that are all budding boxers. A fighter's blood still flows in Joe’s veins.

Exactly 27 years ago have passed and the legend continues…

From Joe Francisco, the father,- let us go to Drian Francisco, the son. On April 19, 2009 at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines he won against Indonesian Sharil Fabanyo via 2nd round knock out. The fight was an undercard in the Nonito Donaire - Raul Martinez fight dubbed as "The Fast and the Furious", a joint promotion of Top Rank and Solar Sports. Drian (formerly known as Jong Francisco) is undefeated in 16 bouts and ranked number 10 by both World Boxing Association (WBA) for International Super Flyweight and Flyweight for the World Boxing Organization (WBO). His father's town mates have witnessed the power and authority of Drian Francisco's fists last March 22, 2007 at the Mayor Juan G. Santos Memorial Gymnasium in San Jose when he KOed Deeden Sithsaithong from Thailand.

Everybody in the Philippine boxing scene are hoping that on July 19, 2009, Drian will be facing Rafael “El Torito” Concepcion. Concepcion won the WBA Interim Super Flyweight world title last September in Cebu City by upsetting the highly favored AJ “Bazooka” Banal by spectacular 10th round knockout.

For us, Francisco is the “Mindorenyong Kamao” (Fist from Mindoro), a moniker given to him by Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) South Luzon Bureau correspondent, Ms. Madonna Virola. The boxer from Sablayan is our new boxing idol. Not unlike his legendary father.

Keep on winnin', Kabayan!

(Photo and other reference courtesy of Bongbong Marquez' blog

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'ts Labor Day, So Happy Fiesta!

“Who built seven-gated Thebes?
Book lists the names of kings.
Did kings haul the blocks and the bricks?...


Lot of facts.
Lot of Questions.”

In the light of these challenging questions posed by Bertolt Brecht, a German playwright in a poem entitled "Questions of a Worker Reading History", I wish to tackle on the value of human work. But before anything else, lest we forget that May 1 marks the international celebration of Labor Day and at the same time the whole Catholic world honors the Feast Day of Saint Joseph, the Patron of all Workers; the Patron Saint of our Vicariate, my parish and yes,.. my hometown. Our Town Fiesta is on Friday, 1st of May 2009.

From the earliest periods in history, powerful people,- monarchs, governors, technocrats,liberal capitalists; exploited the labor of other human beings. And this exploitation became intense and systematic during the early years of Industrial Revolution.

This situation,- perhaps, prompted Pope Leo XIII to issue a Circular Letter addressed to the Church hierarchy called “Rerum Novarum” (Of New Things) in 1891. “In it, he dealt with the relations between labor and capital, defending the existence of trade unions and advocating the rights of the state to protect workers and intervene in social affairs..”, wrote a secular writer Michael Curtis in his book, “Great Political Theories, Vol. 2”.

But sad to say, human labor nowadays is still treated by many company owners and big entrepreneurs as a mere merchandize to be vended like any material good in the market. And for the Filipino worker, the quest for secure job and just compensation continues. The dignity of labor is sacrificed in the altar of Global Competitiveness. By the way, instead of “competition”, why not “cooperation”?

Here’s a glance of labor situation in Occidental Mindoro from the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) : “From a total of 236, 000 persons above 15 years of age in October 2002 in the province, labor force participation rate in Occidental Mindoro was recorded at 74.7 percent, 0.8 percentage point lower than in October 2001. Employment rate, likewise, dropped by 3 percentage points from 94.5 percent in October 2001 to 91.5 percent in October 2002…”. They are the so-called blue-collared workers in various commercial establishments in the province like sales clerks, security guards, construction workers, among others. In case you do not know, the daily rate of a contractual worker in the San Jose District Hospital (its construction is on the way) is only One Hundred Fifty Pesos (PhP 150.00) per day which is way below the prescribed minimum wage!

Again according to NSCB : “ Majority of the people employed in Occidental Mindoro worked in the agriculture sector accounting for 61.5 percent of the total persons employed in the province in October 2002. This indicates that majority of the people in the province remains to depend on agriculture for their livelihood. On the contrary, only 5.6 percent of the total employed persons in the province worked in the industry sector, while 33.5 percent were engaged in the service sector.” These are the landless farmers paid on “per- day- basis” receiving only One Hundred Twenty Pesos a day (PhP 120.00) or measly 2.5 USD.

Even Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs face exploitation, physical danger, mental anguish, and at times even imprisonment and death. Remember Flor Contemplacion and Maricris Sioson? And thousands that are too many to mention but equally too many to ignore!

In Biblical perspective, we Christians are constantly reminded to give just and timely wages to our workers and warned us for exploiting them and accumulating excessive wealth. Indeed, work is the fundamental condition for achieving economic and social progress. It forms the basis of our social life and gives meaning to human dignity.

To emphasize the point, the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines or PCP-II has this to say: “The subjective dimension of human work connotes as necessary and corollary that labor has priority over capital, for labor is the “primary efficient cause of production” while capital is a “mere instrument”. The resources of this world have been placed here to serve the human person through work.” (#318,PCP-II)

Up to this day, the slogan originally coined by Rosa Luxembourg in 1819 still demands urgent action and fulfillment. My people are still looking forward for a genuine celebration of Labor Day and a truly meaningful Fiesta...

Happy Fiesta everyone?

(SSC File Photo Taken by Reynaldo D. San Jose)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Filipino Children and Infomercials

This is what I believe : Mar Roxas’ TV infomercial is nothing but a cheap attempt to identify himself with the masses, the common people. But I do not intend to single out the good senator. I am against ALL infomercials and commercial endorsements by politicians. I seldom go with Meriam Defensor –Santiago’s mind (?) but this time I believe her when she said that, “Politicians conducting premature campaigns under the pretense of commercial endorsements violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution.” She even urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to make a “categorical interpretation” of the Omnibus Election Code to prevent “rich and powerful candidates” from enjoying unfair advantage over poor candidates. All the traditional politicians are putting premature political trash on television even at the expense of poor and marginalized children.

No matter how cute and compassionate are his words to that pedicab boy and his sister (”Ilang taon ka na”.. “Anak, itabi mo. Ako na..”), when people are tired of traditional politicians and their politicking, they cannot easily be blinded by such words. We have all the reasons in the world to doubt their motives behind said infomercials. How the heck can they afford to be big time killjoys in the middle of an exciting episode of our favorite soap opera? While I hate traditional politicians, I salute the poor Filipino children,- like the thirteen year-old pedicab boy and his six-year-old sister, for their resilience. Resilience in psychology is the positive capacity of people to cope with stress and catastrophe. Stressful and catastrophic events that can be traced back to the practice of the nation‘s biggest bane called “politics”.

Here in Occidental Mindoro most of the children are from poor farmer families. Despite life’s hardship, the Spartan spirit resides in them. It is very usual scenario in my province watching a boy say, ten years of age, operates a hand tractor or a power tiller where its handles are too tall for the boy. At an early age, they already managed to survive and be economic partners of their parents. Even some of their rights as children are neglected by their parents. Our local politicians are partly to blame in this sad plight of our children.

According to Dr. Norman Garmezy, a psychologist from University of Minnesota, “Resilience is competence and the inner strength to work well, play well, love well and expect well despite the presence of considerable adversities..” Indeed children has the capacity to be self-reliant and self- governing.

DZVT,- a local AM radio station where I am part of its news and public affairs department, caters a program called “Bidang Bulilit” where interested children/youth were trained on preparing radio program where they produce their own script related to children’s rights and issues faced by children .The airing is done regularly. It is a forum where children also invite and interview resource persons, adults and children, related to children’s issues. Their views are asked on the issues, solutions and how they contribute in addressing such issues. This is a block time program sponsored by Plan, International-San Jose Office.

Filipino children have the ability to see things as impermanent. They hope for a time when they be able to prevail life’s difficulties and fulfill their dreams. Take Tutay for example, my sixteen-year old middle child. Her usual expression amidst domestic financial crisis is this: “Huwag kang mag-alala. Ako ang mag-papayaman sa inyo, ‘Tay” (Don’t worry. I will make you rich, Father).

Children in my country also had a firm sense of what is right and what is wrong. In our anti-mining initiatives, we give information and education campaign among school children in the barrios. And from this kind of activity and dialogue we could sense well their perception of what is ethical and what is moral.

Yes, Filipino children has something that is innate to a person or an inborn trait that can be learned or developed. A spirit within that must be enhanced and nurtured by all of us adults and not only from those we regularly see on television lately…

(Photo from SSC File taken by Ms. Thess Tacderan)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Notice of Invasion

To the citizens of Occidental Minolo:

In view of your perpetual error of electing traditional politicians and their cahoots to power and your continuous inability to breed, support and choose competent leaders, we are serving you this Notice of Invasion.

For going against the fundamental tenets of the Almighty Fuuman Empire, your province shall be put under our control until after required changes and specific choices have been successfully made.

You shall be no longer be part of the Republic of the Philippines and effective today shall be put under the colony of the Fuuma Empire. The Great Kubilai is your emperor and shall exercise sovereignty over this other half of the island.

President Kim Tiu-Cuenca immediately approved the issuance of this Notice because of her odd but overwhelming defeat in Occidental Minolo, her second home province,- last 2028 presidential elections.

However, this Notice does NOT cover Oriental Minolo for they always elect a bunch of dedicated and trusting leaders. It has been breeding haven of selfless politicians and genuine public servants since 1990s.

The Fuuma Empire shall immediately appoint a Governor and a Vice Governor. Your representative to the Philippine Congress likewise be replaced. They will be substituted by two (2) women,- Mimi and Annie, both trusted community organizers of the Fuuma Empire.

Please be informed also that your Vice Governor will be replaced by Shinkan Poe for they have a certain thing in common. They are both strategists.

Your Provincial Board shall be dissolved immediately. But since said august body have provided massive display of weak and indecisive positions on the Screw Mineral’s mining application in the past 30 years or so, for issuing an exploration permit for the Pit King Oil including other major ecological concerns, a grand Galactic Freak Show will be established by the Empire to provide employment exclusively for your former Board Members. They will be hired as make-up artists and performers. Narcoleptics and buffons,- young and old, included.

Moreover, those who renewed the permit for the dreaded Semi Titanic Lottery or STL will now be employed as milk-gatherers of female Tamaraws outside of the Manoot Gene Pool and Research Center. They must produce five (5) liters of milk everyday. Failure to do so will be meted out with corresponding penalty. May this remind them of the truth that STL though legal, is gambling and gambling is a vice and it will never be a virtue. Then and now.

All of them will be punished for making the lives of the Mangyans miserable up to present time. And for practically doing nothing in connection with the IPRA including inaction and lack of support pertaining to the ancestral domain claims of the indigenous peoples. Also for gradually downgrading the Mangyan culture by and large.

The Fuuma Warriors shall exercise extreme police authority and control to any law or ordinance enacted by the Great Kubilai,- the Most Supreme Fuuma, and the rest of his Imperial Council.

We will show no mercy to coup plotters, revolutionaries, vagabonds, jaywalkers and other lawless elements who will disobey general and internal rules of the Fuuma Empire. Be it a dreamer or a performer,- gay or straight.

In order for this Notice be automatically revoked and for us to consequently order the withdrawal of our Almighty Fuaman warriors on Earth specifically in Occidental Minolo,- thus your return to your former civil status under Government of the Republic of the Philippines, you are hereby commanded to do the following:

1. Organize a third political force as an alternative to the so-called Dream Time and Performance Tamed;

2. Identify and train young potential alternative candidates or politicians for series of lectures/workshops/conferences on good governance and participatory democracy;

3. Solicit moral support and financial assistance from local businessmen and entrepreneurs for projects and programs geared towards voting competent, dedicated and young candidates to political power and authority;

4. Establish a multi-sectoral and province-wide citizens’ movement as a vehicle for the conduct of series of anti-trapo and issue-based education and other related political actions;

5. Constant contact with spaceship Vavilos for its intervention towards your immediate salvation;

6. Conduct, too, regular visit to Strange Dimension for long life, power, strength and stamina; and,

7. Live your faith in politics and in everyday life (in case you’re still is and wanted to remain a Christian, or in general, a believer).

You will receive further order and decrees in the coming weeks.

Congratulations. With this new semi-cosmic sets of policies and structure, we are hoping that Occidental Minolo could finally get rid of its majority of self-centered leaders, their lapdogs and propagandists. And would ultimately reach progress and total development and be proud citizens of planet Earth and the whole Milky Way Galaxy.

May the Force be with us.
Date issued : 23 January 2034

(Translated from the Fuuman language “Wakhal”)

(Note : My apologies to Toei Company, the makers of TV Asahi’s “Uchu Keiji Shaider”. Also inspired by Jessica Zafra’s article “Su Casa, es Mi Casa” from p. 53 of her book “Twisted 6” published in 2002.-NAN)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Come Alive!

Bruce Lee started it all. Yes, as I have told you once, my eldest find the “Enter the Dragon” lead star cool not because he is into Jet Kune Do but because Lee Shiu Loong’s (Bruce’s Chinese name) simple but practical ideas and thoughts fascinate my kid like no other. At an early age he already managed to memorize and recite one of his idol’s lengthy poem and here’s a tiny slice: “…Life battles don’t always go to/The stronger or faster man/But sooner or later the man/Who wins is the man/Who thinks he can..”

This became,- I suppose as I see him grow before my very eyes, his personal credo. But my kid seldom skipped Al Bernstein’s show on TV. He is used to shadow boxing and lifting dumbbells every morning. Actually I taught him why and when he has to defend himself or fight back in times of need.

He was second year highschool when he KOed (via lethal flicker jab a la Tommy Hearns) a rascal classmate who had been bullying him for years. “Napuno na po ako.” (I got enough of him), he told me between sobs. I was later informed that the fight ensued right at the corridor. At her office, I apologized to the school principal for my son’s misbehavior. And she reminded me of things that I’ve already read centuries back in their handbook. But her reply shocked me like hell : “Kung sa labas ng kampus sana niya sinuntok, okey lang. Hindi na kita ipatatawag.” (If this happened outside of the campus its just okay). She and her faculty members have also lost their patience to that spoiled brat. I told you, I taught my boy why and when to defend himself and fight back but overlooked the “where” thing. Thanks God, incident of sort happened only once!

Back to Bruce Lee. The book I gave him as a birthday gift when he was ten is an anthology of Lee’s correspondence with families and fans written from 1958 to 1973 edited by John Little. This made my boy truly appreciate the Dragon’s philosophy and life more than his martial arts and movie antics. For him, Bruce Lee was a philosopher more than anything else. True enough, for Bruce Lee was once a Philosophy student at the University of Washington from 1961 to 1963. It started with this question : “..’Tay, saan ba ‘ko pwedeng mag-aral ng Philosophy sa College?” (Where can I study Philosophy in college?), he asked me sometime after he unleashed his “Fist of Fury” to that bully. And this time I exactly know “where”. (Not in the corridor, mind you!)

Think I’ve already told you that the Saint Joseph College Seminary (SJCS) in Occidental Mindoro will be celebrating its Silver Jubilee come June this year and the whole local Church is presently celebrating Year of the Vocation. The SJCS’ School of Philosophy was inaugurated only last year. If Bruce Lee made himself known in the US by putting-up Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, I told my eldest and only son that I knew somebody that in a way did the same before he went puff.

And maybe because the spirit of the Dragon has engulfed my young kid, full of enthusiasm and determination he passed the entrance examination he took in October 2008. A gathering, I think a month-long orientation for seminary enrollees/candidates, is on as I post this entry. My son was at the Vigil Mass last night along with nine other young boys from different parishes all over the province. Coincidentally, “Yobhel”,- my son’s given name is the Hebrew word for “Jubilee”. Last night at the Mass he was holding a censer. The very same heavy hands he used to lift a dumbbell and punch a bag,.. and a boy.

What if he doesn’t make it? What if I couldn’t afford him to stay? That won’t worry me I tell you. Bruce Lee the culprit has this to say: “It is not what happens is a success or failure, but what it does to the heart of a man. No man is defeated unless he is discouraged.” Surely my boy will learn something from the pre-formation orientation (which is set until May 2.). We, his immediate family members, would-be formators, relatives and friends are here to bring encouragement. People that would tap him on his shoulder and say, “Keep on punchin’, I mean,.. goin’.”

“Come alive!” may sound like a movie catch phrase but actually an Easter message of certain Sr. Corita Kent who lived in the 60’s. See? Even the Resurrection can also be restated in a sportive style. True enough, not only love but conversion could also come from, according to a famous song, “the most unexpected places…” and faces. Have you ever imagined how a long-dead individual would in a way become a present-day (priesthood) vocation campaigner? God’s calling cannot only be inspired by the works of ancient pious individuals like saints and mystics but by pop culture icons like Bruce Lee who are considered by many as false idols.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Spiritual Boxing

I’ll keep my fingers off the computer keyboard for the Holy Week.

My scrutiny of my personal year-round boxing match with God is on the way. I have to prepare for it and now is the best time for such a discernment or evaluation cum prayer/meditation. How God has beaten me up black and blue effortlessly. How He won via TKO until I furtherly affirmed that He is still authentically “The Greatest”. Undisputed and unmatched.

More or less, here’s the rundown of my post-game analysis (read: meditation) : I rediscovered God whose powerful uppercuts almost made my soul jump off my mortal body. The Almighty whose left straight shatters my every expectation and all anticipations. To exchange punches with Him is like sailing in dangerous waters,- like the Calavite Point, that at every single round He threatens to drown all His opponents except those spiritual champions of yore. He constantly invite us to a cruel blow-by-blow fight with Him.

Know what is like to have a boxing match with the Father? Every time He unleashes His killer punch (including His sharp elbows!) your flesh is ripped off and your bones cracked. It brings pain beyond compare. All His legitimate shots,- hook, straight or jab, bring not only torture, pain and anguish but yes,.. approval, opportunity and BLESSINGS.

Indeed He owns the MadEarth Square Garden and the venue is equally important as the people behind me for this quest. I have you my team members to fulfill our common quest and vision. To experience our dream match with God for this is the very moment to follow our own follower. Remember, meeting Him is always a Main Event.

Before my fight, this fight with the Almighty Champ,.. I tried to elude Him. I cancelled previous fight cards with Him. But now I know. What keep us apart is not His distance but our constant back-pedaling or moving away from Him. We always turn down His invitation for a brawl. We are afraid to bang bodies and exchange fists and head blows with the Lord, yet we are eager to outplay him on top of the mortal ring we created and mundial fight plan that we designed. We are afraid to kiss the floor unconscious or have our teeth broken, spit out our mouth piece or end with a dislocated jaw. But remember, this eagerness is matched by His eagerness for UNION with us,- for a grudging and painful encounter with Him comes Heavenly bliss. From this battle we draw courage and inspiration in establishing Kingdom of God right here at our training gym, in our area of concern, in our home court or anywhere.

It is time to stop hiding and accept the challenge and face the sweetest and greatest defeat of life. Let us allow ourselves to be overpowered and conquered by the Lord because from this defeat comes the initial process of holiness. This total surrender.

Initially let us accept God’s challenge and don’t be timid. For one of my trainers, Teresa of Avila once told me, “We do not have to be bashful with God”. Yes, we cannot grasp the stumbling blocks of our lives unless we slip and fall over them…. come Holy Week or beyond.

Until next week, folks.

(PS. Praktis lang uli…)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Forests and Social Justice

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin saw the Earth from space for the first time in history and made this famous remark: “Our Earth is blue”. This short message was packed with emotions. Scientists pointed out that the color is created by the combination of air and water and forests play vital role in producing such beautiful color. But enough of aesthetics.

According to the Encyclopedia of Earth, the only remaining intact forests in Mindoro are found along the top of the mountain ridge that divides the island. On the eastern side of the ridge commercial logging ended long enough ago that the remaining intact forests are buffered by secondary forests that have reestablished a closed condition, yet these same forests are again under threat from legal and illegal logging activities. Only 8.5 percent of Mindoro was forested in 1988.Several reforestation reserves and projects had been established in Mindoro since 1936 but these have proved to be less than effective.

The book “Mangyan Survival Strategies” (p. 151) by Jurg Hebling and Volker Schult published in 2004 states, “The then incumbent government also gave unrestricted priority to economic rather than ecological considerations. Briefly before his resignation as Minister of Natural Resources, Ernesto Maceda approved a logging permit, Timber License Agreement, TLA No. 376, on 38,630 hectares of land around Mt. Halcon, to Oriental Wood Processing Corporation… Some 30,000 Mangyans would have been affected by the operations of Oriental Wood.”

The significant loss of 894,170(92.43%) hectares of Mindoro's forest cover has drastically happened over the past 50 years. From more than 50% of forest covered lands in 1924, it dropped to 36% in 1951. And as recorded in 1984, only 73,230 hectares (7.57%) of Mindoro Island's 967,400 hectares of originally forested areas still remain in a threatened state ( ERD, 1995).

At present,the remaining forest cover of only 21,578 ha. (2.2%) are old growth with mossy forests and the remaining 48,945 ha. (5.06%) are residual forests. Most of the old forests have been logged over and remaining forest patches surrounded by wide ranges of grasslands are remnants of selective logging. Remaining forest patches are situated mainly in the central higher regions of the island.

Last March 31, 2009 at the junction of Brgy. Bagong Sikat and Brgy. Bubog in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, nine (9) persons were apprehended by the San Jose Police Station led by SPO3 Aureo Garcia. The suspects are headed by a known businessman from Brgy. Caminawit of said municipality named Eddie Hopio. They were apprehended because of possessing Illegally-cut lumbers of Molave and Dau species approximately totaling to 500 board feet. The filing of the case is still in progress.

The Mindoro Nickel Project is the biggest threat to our forests. Republic Act No. 7940 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 under Chapter XII, Section 72 (Timber Rights) states, “Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, a contractor may be granted a right to cut trees or timber within his mining area as may be necessary for his mining operations subject to forestry laws, rules and regulations.” The Mining Act of 1995 has given foreign and local mining firms more economic and political rights and privileges in the form of mining permits. These permits can give mining firms operation not only timber but water and easement rights for as long as 50 years in an area that can reach as large as 81,000 hectares. To date, more than half a million hectares of Philippine land have been turned over to the control of mining companies.

From Mindoro to the whole Philippines, let us go global. The Secretariat’s Report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) called “Research and Future Plans” describes this phenomenon by the following conclusion:

“Large scale floods cannot be avoided if denudation of the productive land takes place as such a speed. The results can already be seen in the comparatively poor developing countries of the world. The developed economies will not be able to escape, either. Today, almost 21 million hectares of land are denuded. Unless urgent counter measures are taken by all countries…”

April is Earth Month. The Earth Day on April 22 in 1990 gave a huge boost to environmental efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“The Mangyans who use ‘slash-and-burn’ farming including the upland dwellers who obey and follow orders from illegal cutters that result to massive forest denudation are also guilty of this crime…” This notion is partly correct. And according to Pope John Paul II from his Message for World Peace Day in 1990 : “In the face of such situations (ecological imbalances) it would be very wrong to assign responsibility to the poor alone from the negative environmental consequences of their actions. Rather, the poor, to whom the earth is entrusted no less than to others, must enable to find way out of their poverty.”

For some sectors of our society, the only thing which will deter the probability of ecological holocaust is social justice, completely and swiftly. All else, according to them, is bandwagoning, deception or illusion!

Let us appreciate Mindoro forests not only from its aesthetic values but from ecological and moral cores. In unison we must declare: ”No to Mindoro Nickel Project! No to forest denudation!”

(Photo credit: from - Thank you.)