Sunday, March 1, 2009


WHILE THE CEBU CITY GOVERNMENT and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were asleep, anonymous termites armed with a chainsaw fell tree after tree in a remote hinterland of the city found either in the boundaries of Sapangdaku, Babag I or Kalunasan. It was in the early afternoon of February 8, 2009 when I chanced upon four stumps of newly-cut tamarind trees, their trunks and branches scattered about along the trail that I traversed from Babag Ridge to the barangay road of Kalunasan.

I was with Boy Toledo and Ernie Salomon and we just concluded an endurance climb session with my group, the Cebu Mountaineering Society, wherein we parted ways with Daddy Frank Cabigon, Boy Olmedo and Grace Ventic and guest Joel Cariño of the USC Mountaineers who decided to cut short their session by way of the Babag Ridge Road exiting to Garaje in Upper Busay. Boy T, Ernie and me, meanwhile, proceeded to explore further the No-Santol-Tree Trail which we accidentally discovered on January 4.

On that date and on the week after that (January 11) these four tamarind trees were still there. Each of the tree were bearing fruit as they were still in their prime and were a natural landmark along the trail because of their imposing location. In just a short span of time, these lovely tamarind trees were reduced to a pitiful assortment of lifeless cut trunk and limbs while their leaves and fruits withered under the heat of the sun, perhaps, all to be buried under a shallow dirt inside a fire hole where the slow ember of a fire would reduce it to commercial charcoal.

Everywhere, whether along the trail or across another hill, I would see spots of cleared hillsides, marked by dried vegetation and dead tree stumps, young and old alike. And located nearby are the charcoal-making holes, black-marked forever on the landscape, so obvious by its presence. A curse to the green living things wrought upon them by greedy traders who capitalized on the remoteness of the area, so wide and so hidden, and on the economic situation of the inhabitants. Another thing, these termites took advantage of the neglect and laziness of people in government tasked to oversee the protection of the environment.

It is a common sight for me when I trekked the trails from Napo to Mount Babag and back or traversing to Kalunasan to see people gathering and transporting charcoal. Most of these kind use minors to do the work for them. One pre-adolescent boy I talked to on the No-Santol-Tree Trail, who was carrying a sack of newly-collected charcoal slung along his forehead, said he disposed his cargo to a certain “Floro” for a measly fee of ten pesos (Php10.00)! It sucks!!

Boy T have been egging me many times to alert these activities to the authorities, but I don't know where or whom to talk to. I felt his rage and I felt mine too. So I clicked on my camera and blog this in the Internet, then pray and hope that someone would take notice of this. Just hoping and praying this will be magnified a thousand times...

...I am appealing to the Honorable Mayor Tomas Osmeña and his councilors, the DENR and to the barangay chiefs of Kalunasan, Babag I, Guadalupe, Sapangdaku and Busay to please get out of your comfort zones and take a look at our backyard which are now being decimated slowly back to the Cebu City of the '80s which were marked then by bald hills, overflowing rivers during a rain and droughts.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1


Walt said...

I take it there are no Forest Ranges to protect the forest. That's like having no doors on the Bank to protect the money.

Bulacan groups offer volunteer forest rangers to fight loggers:

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