Tuesday, February 21, 2012
The Sibuyan Connection
They reminded me of my YS (youth) years when I was still a budding social activist way back in college. I was once like them for they are daring but humorous, dynamic but funny. I can see myself in them and that I must admit. They are young and full of hope, not unlike my two eldest children. I am referring to five senior accountancy students from Romblon State University (RSU) in their native Odiongan and officers of the Alliance of Students Against Mining or ASAM in said campus. They are, and this is according to height, Emilyn Arellano, Michelle Ferry, Arjay Barrios, Ryandolph Vicente and Levi Marc Mesana. They are all single and all ready to mingle (with the older ones in environmental advocacy works like ATM’s Jayvee Garganera, MACECs Myke Magalang, former Odiongan legislator Pearly Harder and myself!). Seriously, we were in Siburan to attend the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) MIMAROPA Regional Assembly. For five days we stayed at the Sanctuary Garden Resort in Magdiwang, hometown of track queen Elma Muros-Posadas. We crossed the Pacific Ocean from Odiongan to Romblon and finally to Sibuyan. We hiked up to Dagubdob Falls in municipality of San Fernando, site of the Princess of the Stars tragedy and all the twenty five anti-mining advocates in the region had a wonderful getaway from February 15 to 20, 2012.
Of all the places, it was in Sibuyan where I met ABS-CBN's Gina Lopez and not in any of the Philippines' major cities and she was talking with Mayor Dindo M. Rios and the town's local legislators. The participants too were able to be oriented on the life of one of the anti-mining martyrs of Sibuyan, the late councilor Armin R. Marin who was gunned down by a security guard of a mining firm some years back.
Among other things, we participants of the assembly re-echoed and put flesh to our calls: Scrap Philippine Mining Act and enact the Alternative Mining Bill and revoke EO 0270-A and reject the Mineral Action Plan. As representatives of Sablayan-LGU, Arcris Canillo and I ventilated that the new national policy on mining must guarantee that LGU have venues and spaces to genuinely participate in decision-making regarding mining applications and operations. We are firm in saying that the LGUs and its officials decide if the benefits of mining overweight the costs they bring to our localities and our natural resources. Prior to our Sibuyan trip, Occidental Mindoro Governor Josephine Ramirez-Sato and Rev. Fr. Gerardo F. Causapin initiated the signing of a manifesto on these calls.
Concerted endeavors are imperative to protect the environment. Pro environmental alliances are formed when we, social actors, are building bridges or filling the physical gaps between us. Generation and age gaps included.
I may soon forget the names and faces of the ASAM kids who were with us but not the reason why we joined hands for this event. That is the very reason why we connected with each other that wonderful rainy days.
Both in being funny, being in love and being an activist we forget about ourselves. So, keep our aspirations intact wherever you go, guys.
(Photo from Arjay Barrios' FB account)