We do not need to be a scientist like Dr. Laura David and a local political leader like Cong. Josephine Ramirez-Sato to realize that Occidental Mindoro and the rest of the Philippine provinces are now facing the very dangers of Climate Change. The effects of climate change specifically in the marine life of Sablayan can be watched in this video documentation posted by Reev Robledo last March 3, 2010 for the World Wide Fund for Nature or WWF.
I was personally invited by Board Member Roderick Q. Agas to attend a Climate Change Forum held in San Jose last Saturday, April 2, 2016. Agas, currently leading the vice mayoralty race in said municipality, a personal friend an erstwhile co-worker at the Social Services Commission of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose, personally invited me to be one of the attendees to the meeting. So, I did attend in my own personal capacity as a pro-environment advocate.
Held at Sikatuna Beach Hotel, it was conducted just 20 days away from the celebration of World Earth Day on April 22. The event was initiated by Dr. Corazon Claudio of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and Agas himself as chair of the environment and tourism committee in the provincial legislative board. Among the invited guest speakers are Dr. Helena T. Yap, PhD of the University of the Philippines (UP) Marine Science Institute; Dr. Maricor Soriano of UP Institute of Physics; and the one I have mentioned a while ago, Dr. Laura David, PhD, physical oceanographer. All the ladies are recipients of the prestigious The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service (TOWNS), all members of the elite group of awardees called TOWNS Federation. Majority of the participants are seaweeds planters and fisher folks from the islands of Iling and Ambulong and some employees of Office of the Municipal Agriculturist (OMA) from Magsaysay and the host municipality. Dr. Claudio is TOWNS Awardee for Science and Technology in 1989.
What strikes me most is the topic “Climate Change: Implications for a Tropic Archipelagic Country” rendered by Dr. David (TOWNS Awardee for Oceanography, 2010). She said that over the years, Philippines continue to experience increase in ocean temperature and acidification, a disturbance on what she calls as “water budgets”, rise of sea level and the increasing strengths of storm events which are associated with storm surges. She emphasized that the LGUs need to revisit their development plans anchored on the mitigations of these inescapable dangers posed by global warming. Dr. Soriano (TOWNS Awardee for Physics, 2010) discussed the importance of Automated Rapid Reef Appraisal or ARRAS where she introduced the so-called Teardrop Hull which she and her team have invented. The Teardrop Hull is an instrument that could accurately record the underwater resources of a certain area at the speed of 33 kilometers per day. On her part, Dr. Yap (TOWNS awardee for Science, 1998) emphasized the need of climate change resilience through livelihood switching. Ecotourism programs managed by the communities themselves, according to her, could also be tried.
Earlier in the day, in her opening remarks, Cong. Sato stressed that to mitigate climate change, our actions need to be comprehensive hence not only to rely on economic side but the ecological side as well. Indeed, all economic activity must respect the environment to a superior amount, reconciling the needs of economic development with those of environmental care. Addressing the seaweed farmers of San Jose and Magsaysay, the Occidental Mindoro representative to Congress said that the event is the “most anticipated shot in the arm for the seaweed industry in the province.” Further, Sato likewise informed the participants that she already authored the Expanded NIPAS Law known as House Bill 06328. Gov. Mario Gene J. Mendiola and Vice Gov. Peter J. Alfaro along with Mayor Muloy M. Festin also came to grace the occasion.
The lady experts are in unison in saying that our fragile island ecosystems should be restored and mining will put us even more in a vulnerable situation facing the changing climate that we are experiencing today. With the massive forest denudation and consequent desertification of our forests and siltation of our bodies of water due to large-scale mining explorations and actual operations, it would toast us even more in this ecological oven and frozen us cold in this ecological freezer.
Thus, one of the concrete ways of mitigating and adapting climate change is our firm, sustained and active opposition to mining, to all the 92 applications (so far) for the whole Mindoro Island…