Friday, November 11, 2011

I want to be a rebel

(On President Benigno Aquino III's total log ban exemption in mining areas)

President Benigno Aquino III has exempted the mining industry from the total log ban in exchange for obligating the industry to take part in the National Greening Program launched early this year.

Leo Jasareno, Mines and Geociences Bureau (MGB) national director, said on Thursday that making decisions like this was the Aquino administration’s way of making industry regulations more efficient and mining more acceptable to the public.

Yes, I want to be a rebel.

Four years ago, a colleague of mine was shot to death by a mining security officer while leading a picket against some hired surveyors of a mining company and the approval of a special cutting of trees permit approved by the late DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes.

Such permit will let the mining company cut more or less 70,000 trees.

The license had been suspended by then DENR Secretary Lito Atienza and anytime it may be lifted by now DENR Secretary Ramon Paje the fact that the exemption of President Aquino has been publicized.

I want to be a rebel.

Every tree and mineral on my island is already tainted by the blood of our martyr. This pronouncement of the President will lead to more bloodshed.

I want to be a rebel.

This government has now shown its hidden tentacles - orchestrated by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines composed by mere less than one percent of the country's population.

I want to be a rebel.


Fortunately, a few government agencies I really trust are still fighting for a real change in the service of the Filipino people. One of which is the Climate Change Commission with people who are genuinely concerned with the future of this country.

Perhaps, the President doesn't know the real statistics on the ground.


I want to be a rebel.

Mr. President, I hope you read this message.

What you have pronounced will lead to a more chaotic Philippines.

I tell you. Believe me. Believe us. We are the 99%.

Mr. President, YOU LIED.

Mr. President, WE ARE YOUR BOSS.

Mr. President, you are now becoming the leader of the 1%.

Mr. President, I tell you solemnly: do not be fooled by these people.

Mr. President, you are an economist, and your own government agency says that the contribution of the mining industry to our gross domestic product is only less than 2%.

What have you become?

Mr. President, be afraid of your people for in due time they will become rebels themselves against the 1% you are now leading.

Is this a compromise?

A compromise of a fool mind and lost soul.

I wish I am a rebel.

Monday, November 7, 2011

We are nature

Published on Sunday, November 06, 2011, in Manila Times

Our ancestors collectively remind us that everything is interconnected; however, not interdependent when human beings abuse such harmony.

Humanity depends on nature for survival and existence but it is not the whole humanity who wanted to survive and exist. Greed and selfishness in the guise of national security created a great global apathetic divide which will eventually result to genocide.

It is the apathy of human beings that leads to unjust treatment of our planet as subject. It is as if life on earth began through the power of our superior rationality.
Unless we are unable to accept that we are part of this whole ecosystem, it will be impossible for us to solve the emerging environmental crises.

It was a rendezvous of same worldviews when I met and listened to Paul Hawken, author of New York Times bestseller Blessed Unrest: How the largest movement in the world came into being, and why no one saw it coming.

My colleague at The Climate Reality Project, Simon Bradshow, describes the Paul Hawken speech and interactive discussion as “Over an hour and a half, and in his gentle poetic style which felt more like a Sunday walk in the bush than a lecture, Paul Hawken ranged seamlessly from dissolving the human and nature divide, rediscovering the miracle of life, understanding our place in the world and understanding the extraordinary power of the nongovernment organizations and collectives.”

It was indeed a journey beyond our imagination reaching into challenging realities of going back to the basic sciences of nature from which all of us came into being. A realization that what we are doing as part of these seemingly “small” movements to restore environmental harmony and promote social justice for all is but a natural propensity as part of the whole life-system of the universe. Hence, I agree when Hawken said “We are nature.”

Belonging to environmental movements, we are often addressed as “environmentalists.”

Practically, receiving such regard comes with a huge responsibility and challenge which in fact all human beings should do and face.

It is not being an “environmentalist” that moves us, for being so it is just sympathy to the environment which forces us to protect and fight for it. We intangibly put humanity as the masters of the universe and environment as mere subject obviously kneeling down for our mercy.

Or is it the other way around, begging mercy from nature from which all our cells come from forming almost 1 septillion activities within us 10 times the number of stars in the universe, as Hawken puts it?

What is the root cause of all these turmoil in the world? It is the denial of humanity as part of nature thus making everything in the universe as mere subjects for utilization.

How to solve this? We should learn from the indigenous peoples of the world who have been teaching us how to live in harmony with nature and accept the reality of being part of nature.
Sadly, the whole utilization movement is promoting ethnocide bringing age-old traditions and customs into the brink of extinction.

Why indigenous? In our veins flow indigenous blood which enable us to adopt and strife for survival. Once upon a time, we belong to a humanity dependent solely in the abundance of nature and we live with it, in harmony. However, there were some who abused such abundance and forced nature to be more abundant to the extent of stripping off the capacity to become abundant. This started the utilization movement which is 1 percent of the world’s population.

It is now high time to bring back what had been. Together, with the indigenous peoples of the world who have been sacrificing their lives and defending their lands and traditions for the sake of maintaining the balance in this planet, we shall stand up. Against the 1 percent, we are the 99 percent who are now making environmental and social justice into reality.

Yes, every one of us is part of each and everyone. I breathe what you breathe. Let the 1 septillion cellular activities in our bodies modify and transform the minds of the utilization movement. Let us not permit 1 percent to occupy the 99 percent who wanted to bring back the natural balance in this world.

Don’t forget, the minds of the 1 percent utilization movement are still part of the 99 percent. The silence and inaction of 99 percent make them more powerful.

* * *

Why all these natural problems? Nature just reacts.

Why such “exaggerated” reactions? Because of our exaggerated apathetic actions.

Whatever we do to the detriment of the environment comes back to us because we are all part of it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The living and the dead

Below is an article written by veteran columnist Conrado de Quiros of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Surprisingly, it is an honor to be quoted by a respected journalist:

Galicha is right, it’s time we added our voices to those protesting the complacency, the indifference, the cynicism of the greedy—yes, the greedy, as Occupy Wall Street so rightly puts it—before we end up being merely the voices of the damned. Like Galicha, it’s time we told countries like the United States that have remained stumbling blocks to global accords to fight off global warming: “From the Pacific islands, from the global South, we don’t need your money. What we need is climate justice. Decrease your emissions.”


There’s The Rub
The living and the dead
By: Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer

There’s a horror story to scare us out of our wits today. No, it’s not any movie that’s currently showing in our movie houses. And no, it’s not the ongoing bloodletting in the South if you want a horror story from real life, even if the faces of the Muslim women that appeared here last weekend, all haggard with anxiety, adding deeper furrows into faces already furrowed by age, are horrific enough in themselves.

It’s global warming.

That term almost makes it sound anticlimactic. It’s such a benign way to refer to a planet in peril, to a threatened apocalypse, to the making of a day devoted to visiting the dead redundant.

A news item came out Monday that drove home the point.

Richard Muller, a prominent skeptic of global warming, spent two years studying the data to prove the doomsayers wrong only to discover that they were right. The earth is heating up, its land mass in particular now being 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than it was in the 1950s. Muller is set to deliver his findings this week.

The community that has been warning about climate change is unimpressed though it welcomes his corroboration. “After lots of work he found exactly what was already known and accepted in the climate community,” says Jerry North, the atmospheric sciences professor who headed a National Academy of Sciences climate science review in 2006. “I am hoping his study will have a positive impact. But some folks will never change.”

There’s no longer any reason to be skeptical about rising temperatures, Muller wrote in the Wall Street Journal, a bastion of skeptical thinking about global warming. Which is the reason his study is making waves, if not exactly whipping up a tsunami. His study however does not address the causes of global warming or suggest ways of counteracting it.

Still, he said, the world would do well to reduce carbon emissions caused by fossil fuels. “Greenhouse gases could have a disastrous impact on the world.”

Just how disastrous it could be, a group of scientists and environmental activists pointed out a month and a half ago. Led by Al Gore, the best president the United States never had who gained fame with “An Inconvenient Truth,” they held a day-long marathon show called “24 Hours of Reality,” which was streamed worldwide via Internet. The event drew in representatives from 24 locations across the globe whose job was to “connect the dots between the changing climate and extreme weather.” It featured our very own Rodne Galicha, a 32-year-old environmental activist from Sibuyan Island, Romblon. He held his own in the distinguished company.

He began by drawing attention to the humongous catastrophes that have beset the world of late: massive floods in Pakistan, Australia, even Mississippi and North Dakota; mudslides in Korea; droughts in Brazil, Mexico and Syria; unrelenting rains in China, Fiji, Colombia and the Philippines; rising temperatures, increasing water vapor over the oceans, and growing intensity of rainstorms and snow storms.

He ended by saying: “If we are unable to act, with this phenomenon, we are committing suicide; for the next generation, we are committing homicide. Homo sapiens has now become the most critically endangered species of all time.”

All this merely confirms what our senses have been telling us for some time now.

There’s no denying global warming, there’s no denying climate change, there’s no denying a dying planet. Monumental catastrophes have happened in the past, some more catastrophic than the ones we see today. But not as plentifully, not as frequently, not as universally harshly. Quakes and tsunamis violently rocking various parts of the world, laying low even a powerful country like Japan; hurricanes and tornadoes howling in the American heartland and elsewhere; super storms and floods devastating countries in Southeast Asia, the Philippines at the frontline of them: You don’t have to believe in the Mayan prediction of an apocalyptic event ravaging the earth next Christmas to be very, very afraid.

As it is, we’re already thanking heaven a storm did not waylay our visit to the cemeteries today. A thing we may not count on in years to come. Galicha himself contends that it’s the poor countries like ours that are taking the brunt of the effects of global warming.

Can we stop the complacency, the indifference, the cynicism that are pushing humankind to the brink?


But unfortunately that is not just something we can do on our own, even if we had the will to do it. It takes global effort of the kind Gore and company are spearheading. It is no small irony that the rich countries continue to preach the infinite wonders of globalism while being the very obstacle to real globalism, the kind where the peoples of the world unite to take global action to save the planet. They’re the ones who insist that even if the planet is warming, they have nothing to do with it, it’s a natural cycle of life, the earth has immense powers of recuperation, left to itself it will right things in the end. An argument unfortunately that nobody can win: You prove them wrong, you still lose.

Galicha is right, it’s time we added our voices to those protesting the complacency, the indifference, the cynicism of the greedy—yes, the greedy, as Occupy Wall Street so rightly puts it—before we end up being merely the voices of the damned. Like Galicha, it’s time we told countries like the United States that have remained stumbling blocks to global accords to fight off global warming: “From the Pacific islands, from the global South, we don’t need your money. What we need is climate justice. Decrease your emissions.”

Homo sapiens is the one species now most threatened with extinction. We don’t act to reverse this, we blur the line between the living and the dead.