Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Something Good Will Happen


SOMETHING GOOD WILL HAPPEN
by Antonio C. Antonio
November 13, 2014

QUESTION:  Looking at environmental lobbying (in the Philippines? International context?) as a strategy in environmental advocacy, how have we fared so far?

I would prefer to believe that environmental lobbying as a strategy in environmental advocacy is workable.  But this is not just a simple gut feel but there are several events that give credence to the fact that environmental lobbying really works.

In August 8, 2014 I wrote a blog “Losing Our Lives” (http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/08/losing-our-lives.html) which narrated how the U.S. Environment Protection Agency ruled on substantially reducing carbon emission.

 “Mitigation might no longer be the prime strategy since Global Warming and Climate Change is already upon us.” (Antonio, 2013, “Typhoon Yolanda”, http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/04/typhoon-yolanda.html)  Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the most powerful tropical storm ever to make landfall is a prime indicator of climate change and global warming.  The rise in water level and increase in temperature in the Pacific Ocean provided a deadly combination of causes that made Typhoon Yolanda a killer that took the lives of over 8,000 Filipinos in 3 hours of fury.  “Yolanda is a 1st World problem which unfortunately happened to a 3rd World country.  Our government (both national and local), obviously ill-prepared and ill-equipped to cope with such a disaster, was initially overwhelmed, shocked and paralyzed.  The United States, with all its wealth and power, also failed to stop Hurricane Katrina which registered 230 KPH winds… Yolanda was over 250 KPH.  If governments (our own and other countries) cannot stop typhoons, what can ordinary people like us do to stop natural calamities?  Nothing.” (Antonio, 2013. “Typhoon Yolanda”, http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/04/typhoon-yolanda.html)  

“The Philippines is located in the typhoon alley of the Pacific West and is frequently visited by tropical typhoons… some 28 of them yearly.  Typhoon Yolanda, however, is a class of its own but new studies show that its strength was a result of global warming.  Typhoon Yolanda could have dealt the country a crippling blow that we cannot cope with without help from other countries.  We, Filipinos, will forever be grateful to the American people for being one of the first to come to our aid and rescue in those trying days in November 2013.

Natural disasters are the business of the Gods which the Gods never meant to cause upon man… but man has contributed largely in making natural disasters happen.  Unrestricted carbon emissions from coal plants have contributed considerably to green house gases (GHG) and air pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed regulations that represent the most significant measure the United States has ever done to combat climate change and global warming.  The proposed regulations were designed by the EPA to gradually reduce carbon emissions and air pollution which may not be significantly felt in the United States but are wrecking havoc of disastrous proportions to 3rd World countries like the Philippines with Typhoon Yolanda.  However, last July 31, 2014, members of the United Mine Workers of America from 12 states (Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming) joined forces to nullify the EPA’s rules through the court system.  They rallied before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to express their collective grievances mostly revolving around losing jobs and livelihood opportunities.

The Philippines and other 3rd World nations pale in comparison to the United States in terms of economic wealth and power.  It will not be difficult to assume that the US government, because of its vast resources and the presence of economic development wizards, can whip up alternative industries and livelihood opportunities for coal mining and power plant industry workers.  We, Filipinos, have a simple appeal to the United Mine Workers of America… Please give us a chance to live.  While you are concerned about losing your jobs in a society and country of vast resources and opportunities, we are a poor people simply concerned about losing our lives.” (http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/08/losing-our-lives.html)

In the recently concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing, China, the United States and China announced that they will curb their greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades.  It should be noted that these two countries are considered as the world’s largest economies, the biggest energy consumers and the highest emitters of greenhouse gases.  The U.S. agreed to cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26 to 28% before 2015.  On the other hand, China agreed to peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and will also aim to get 20% of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources in the same year.  The agreement was signed by President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping last November 11, 2014.

Environmental lobbying is defined as the process of putting pressure on members of the legislature or seeking to influence a politician or public official to pass bills on an environmental issue or established public policies on the environment.  The normal targets of environmental lobbying are the elected senators and congressional district representatives since our legislative branch is bicameral in structure.  Environmental lobbying with the legislative branch is effective on non-existent public policies of measure that are still to be passed as bills and enacted into laws or republic acts.   However, lobbying could also be done with the executive department particularly the department secretaries especially on laws that still lack the implementing rules and regulations or are presently being implemented.

Last November 8, 2014, I posted a blog “Somebody Read My Blog” (http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/11/somebody-read-my-blog.html): “From the environmental and ecological viewpoints, Philippine urban centers do have so many problems.  I have chosen to write about the urban problems and solutions of Metro Manila since this is where my family and I live.  As citizens of the biggest metropolis in the Philippines, we are exposed to its good and bad environment.” (Antonio, 2014)

In April 29, 2014, I blogged an article titled “Problems of Philippine Urban Centers” (http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-problems-of-philippine-urban-centers.html).  To aid in the analysis of the situation, I made a matrix.  The first was the PROBLEM COLUMN; the second the CAUSES COLUMN; and, the third the SOLUTIONS COLUMN.  The identified PROBLEM was “Air Pollution”, the identified CAUSE was “Old/Surplus Vehicles”; and, the identified SOLUTIONS were: “(1) Ban the importation of old and surplus motor vehicles; (2) Ban the entry of old vehicles into Metro Manila; and, (3) Pay higher motor vehicle registration fees for old vehicles.”

Last week, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) came up with a statement that the level of pollution in Metro Manila is worsening every day.  And to reduce Metro Manila’s carbon footprint and curb the rapidly deteriorating air quality in the metropolis, drastic measures had to be made.  70 to 80% of the air pollution in Metropolitan Manila is caused by vehicular emissions while 20 to 30% come from industrial emissions.  "Clearly, the key to improving Metro Manila's air quality is by addressing the biggest source of pollution, which is motor vehicles," the DENR pointed out. "We are therefore proposing an early implementation of the Euro 4 Standards for automobile fuels and the scrapping of older high-polluting vehicles.”  The DENR proposes to move the implementation of this measure from January 1, 2016 to an earlier date in the month of June 2015. 

The phasing-out of vehicles that have been operating for more than 15 years shall be done through the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).  If this is strictly followed next year, this means cars models 2000 and older will be banned from Metro Manila streets.  This will not only reduce carbon emissions but also effectively reduce the number of vehicles in the metropolis; therefore, an additional measure to solve the traffic congestion problem.  I understand that safety nets or support system are also being considered to mitigate the effect of this measure especially on the transportation sector… details of which are yet to be made public.

In April 22, 2014, I wrote another blog titled “The Ripple Principle” (http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-ripple-principle.html) which essentially says that environmental lobbying could come in the form of “noise” created in all conceivable media (mainstream or social) outlets by ordinary citizens like us or even loosely organized pro-environment groups.  The point is simply making “noise” about our environmental concerns until this “noise” is heard by someone (or an organization; especially government) who could actually do something about it.  I’m just glad that someone read my blog.”

Patience is a virtue in environmental lobbying.  Environmental advocates, activists and lobbyists should be relentless in the pursuit of their cause.  Sooner or later something good will happen.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow


YESTERDAY, TODAY, TOMORROW
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 18, 2014

In 1998, the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (FMB-DENR) reported that upland degradation takes one of the following forms:
  1. Decline in the productive capacity of the soil as a result of erosion and changes in the hydrological, biological, chemical and physical properties of the soil.
  2. Decline in the quantity and/or quality of the natural biomass and decrease in the vegetative ground cover.
  3. Decline in genetic, species and ecosystem diversity (with possible extinction of some species of fauna and flora) within and downstream of an upland area.
  4. Decline in the quantity and/or quality of both surface and ground water resources and increased risk of downstream flood damage.
  5. Changes in the microclimactic conditions that increase the risk of crop failure.
  6. Decline in the total land area used for agricultural and upland production, or loss of land with potential for such use, as a result of suitable land being converter to non-agricultural/forestry uses as urban settlements, golf courses, industrial parks and roads, or used for mineral extraction purposes.
  7. Decline in the scenic value of natural landscapes due to destructive mining and quarrying activities.

If we were to consider the facts mentioned in this report as the metaphoric (meaning: a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable) YESTERDAY, the FMB-DENR was spot on in predicting the status of upland ecosystems TODAY.  Having said this and now that we are fully aware of our present situation, TODAY is not at all gone and measures could still be undertaken to reverse environmental degradation.  We do not need to wait for TOMORROW. 

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


The China Syndrome


THE CHINA SYNDROME
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 19, 2014

Early last night, my son Monty (Richmond Anthony A. Antonio) asked if I knew of an old movie that has transcended its relevance to the present generation.  He added that the film should be older than him.  It took me a few minutes to travel down memory lane to recall two films --- “Mississippi Burning”, released in 1988, which was racial in context and an even older movie “The China Syndrome” which was a film of environmental concern.  Monty got intrigued by “The China Syndrome” (perhaps because of the title) enough to get him to download the film and watch it.  Around 10 pm, Monty came back to me to say that he appreciated the tip.

Here is a Wikipedia item about the movie: 

“The China Syndrome is a 1979 American thriller film that tells the story of a television reporter and her cameraman who discovered safety cover-ups at a nuclear power plant.  It stars Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas, with Douglas also serving as the film’s producer.

The cast features Scott Brady, Kames Hampton, Peter Donat, Richard Herd and Wilford Brimley.  The film was directed by James Bridges and written by Bridges, Mike Gray and T. S. Cook.

It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Lemmon), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Fonda), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (George Jenkins and Arthur Jeph Parker) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.  It was also nominated for the Palme d’or (Golden Palm) at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival, and Lemmon won Best Actor for his performance.  The film’s script won the 1980 Writers Guild of America award.

The film was released on March 16, 1979, 12 days before the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  Coincidentally, in one scene, physicist Dr. Elliot Lowell (Donald Hotton) says that the China Syndrome would render “an area the size of Pennsylvania” permanently uninhabitable.  The basis for the film came from a number of nuclear power plant incidents and in particular the Brown’s Ferry Alabama Nuclear Power Plant fire which occurred four years earlier in 1975.

“China Syndrome” is a fanciful term --- not intended to be taken literally --- that describes a fictional worst-case result of a nuclear meltdown, where reactor components melt through their containment structures and into the underlying earth, “all the way to China”.”

Nuclear energy remains to be a largely debatable and divisive energy alternative; the environmental implication of which remains unresolved and, perhaps, undetermined.  I remember having written two blogs: “Nuclear Waste and the Four Laws of Ecology” and “Nuclear Energy” which could be found in the following links --- http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/10/nuclear-waste-and-four-laws-of-ecology.html and http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/10/nuclear-energy.html respectively.  You may want to check these links to appreciate an old movie that goes by the title: “The China Syndrome”.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Mitigation and Adaptation


MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION
by Antonio C. Antonio
November 26, 2014

In the last two years, environmental groups have been arguing on what should be the appropriate term to be used in describing or labelling climate change strategies.  There are those who insist that “mitigation” is the more appropriate term than “adaptation”.  But what is the big deal in the use of terms?  What’s the difference between these two words?

The terms “mitigation” and “adaptation” have been loosely used.  Sometimes even interchangeably used.  But there indeed is a difference between these two terms.  By definition, “mitigation” is: (1) The action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something; and, (2) Actions that limit, stop or reverse the magnitude and/or rate of long-term negative effects of environmental problems.  On the other hand, “adaptation”, by definition, is: (1) A change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its present environment; and, (2) The evolutionary process whereby an organism becomes better able to live in its habitat.  For more information on “Adaptation and Maladaptation”, please check on this link: http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/05/adaptation-and-maladaptation.html.

There is also a difference in the temporal (meaning: relating to time as opposed to eternity) and chronological (meaning: the arrangement of events or dates in the order of their occurrence) use of these terms… that “mitigation” should always take precedence over “adaptation”.  At least in this aspect all environmentalists are in agreement.

For people to be talking about “adaptation”, it simply means that all possible “mitigation” approaches and strategies have already been exhausted… and things have gone from bad to worse.  And for pro-environment advocates to be talking of “adaptation”, it becomes a more worrisome situation.  This simply means that our environmental situation has deteriorated to another negative level.  They, more than anyone else, should know and realize the difference between mitigation and adaptation.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Monday, December 22, 2014

Elements of Upland Ecosystems


ELEMENTS OF UPLAND ECOSYSTEMS
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 15, 2014

There are three interdependent basic elements of upland ecosystems --- land, resources and resource environment.  In crafting effective upland management systems, these three factors will have to be considered since the behaviour of and properties of these elements within the upland ecosystem are largely influenced by the presence of biological, physical and social components.  These elements are:

LAND – Defined as the part of the earth’s surface that is not covered by water; as opposed to the air in the atmosphere and the water in the seas.  Land is the basic element of all resources… most resources (goods and services) are derived from land.

RESOURCES – Defined as a stock or supply of goods and services that can be drawn from the land.  These resources include timber, forage, water, wildlife, non-timber plant products, minerals, and other physical resources as well as non-tangible resources such as potentials for recreation and other amenities.  An inventory of these resources and identified land use alternatives is very critical in upland management planning.

RESOURCE ENVIRONMENT – This refers to the socio-bio-physical environment that characterizes and defines the conditions in the upland.  In upland management planning, it is important that the constraints and opportunities from these resource environments are also identified and considered as well as economic, social, political, technological, and biological/ecological environments.

To better understand condition in the upland, it is important to look in detail into the elements of upland ecosystems.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Underlying Causes of the Degradation of Upland Resources (Part 2)


UNDERLYING CAUSES OF THE DEGRADATION OF UPLAND RESOURCES (Part 2)
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 20, 2014

Most problems in the uplands persist only because they are not addressed by identified solutions.  It would be ideal to revisit these problems with fresh perspectives in an effort to find new solutions to those that did not work in the past, such as:

INAPPROPRIATE CONSERVATION TECHNOLOGIES – While a range of soil and water conservation, agroforestry and forestry technologies have been developed for upland areas, the implementation of these typically requires substantial investments in labor, time, money and material resources --- items that many households do not have.  Hence, even when aware of the need to adopt specific sustainable land management practices, a household’s socio-economic constraints may prevent it from being in a position to do so.  Many current conservation recommendations (therefore, SALT, terracing, reforestation) have high initial investment costs when compared to current land uses and the incremental development costs are beyond what most rural households can absorb.

LACK OF ACCESS TO CREDIT – There is generally a lack of spare cash within the rural household economy and access to low cost credit is generally very limited.  Commercial banks, when present, are usually unwilling to lend money to those they perceive as having no collateral with which to secure a loan.

LIMITED INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES – The extension, research and conservation support services available to upland communities are very limited or non-existent.  The bulk of the available manpower and financial resources that Local Government Units (LGUs) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) devoted to agriculture has been concentrated on the development of paddy rice and commercial export crops within the lowlands.  This situation which has been reinforced by the provisions of the recently passed Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act.  For most hill farmers there is very little, if any, extension advice available on how to improve the productivity of traditional upland food crops.  Farmers in alienable and dispensable land lack extension advice on how to grow trees.

CONFLICTING INSTITUTIONAL MANDATES – Organizational problems related to the integrated management of uplands stem from the restricted, and often conflicting, mandates of the different development agencies operating in upland areas.  In particular, there are often conflicts of interest and legal responsibility over land use within upland areas between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), DA, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the LGUs.

UNDERPRICING OF UPLAND RESOURCES – The undervaluing of the natural resources in the upland, notably its water and upland products, has failed to promote the efficient use of water, nor has it encouraged improved natural upland management or large scale reforestation.  There is little incentive to pursue improved upland resources management practices if the end users of the resource do not pay a fair price to those who manage the resource.

INCONSISTENT STATUTORY AND POLICY FRAMEWORK – The legal and policy environment in which upland management takes place is characterized by overlapping, and often conflicting, policies with regards to the utilization and protection of upland areas.

These problems were already identified and reported by the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  Perhaps, you might have something better than the recommended solutions of the DENR-FMB to the underlying causes of the degradation of upland resources.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Underlying Causes of the Degradation of Upland Resources (Part 1)

UNDERLYING CAUSES OF THE DEGRADATION OF UPLAND RESOURCES (Part 1)
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 20, 2014

Most problems in the uplands persist only because they are not addressed by identified solutions.  It would be ideal to revisit these problems with fresh perspectives in an effort to find new solutions to those that did not work in the past, such as:

POPULATION GROWTH AND INWARD MIGRATION IN THE UPLANDS – In many upland areas there is a steadily expanding population from both the natural growth of the indigenous population and inward migration from the lowlands.  This leads to increasing pressure on a finite, and often ecologically vulnerable, natural resource base.  The problem is exacerbated where population growth in taking place at the same as the natural resource base on which it depends is shrinking, therefore, where land degradation has already reduced the population of arable, pasture and upland areas within individual uplands.

POPULATION GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT IN THE LOWLANDS – Continuing population growth in the lowlands has resulted in increased urbanization and industrial development, with an ever expanding demand for water, electricity, timber, agricultural crops, and recreation facilities.  Meeting this demand may lead to local over exploitation of upland resources.  Continuing conversion of lowland farm land to non-agricultural uses (roads, houses, factories, offices, shops, etc.) has forced many farmers to migrate to the uplands in search of new farm land.

LAND TENURE – Suboptimal use and management of upland natural resources can largely be explained by the tenure regime under which the users operate.  The more insecure the user feels with regard to his/her long term rights to use a particular resource, the more incentive there is to exploit it to the maximum over the short term without considering its long term sustainability.  Land users require long term secure rights to use a particular piece of land and to harvest the produce from it before they will invest time and effort in sustaining its long term productivity.  Large parts of the upland in the public domain have become de facto open access resources.  As the people using them have no legal or customary rights (either for cultivation, grazing or for collection of upland products), there has been no incentive to conserve the productive potential of their natural resources (soil, water, vegetation, and animal).

POVERTY AND ECONOMIC DISADVANTAGE – Poverty is the underlying cause of much upland degradation within the Philippines.  The upland and mountain areas of the country are generally the poorest and least developed.  The on-site users of upland resources are predominantly rural.  Lack of alternative income generating activities means that most of them are dependent on small-scale farming and/or forestry activities for their livelihood.  Such “resource-poor” households can rarely afford to forego the chance of short term production (therefore, growing annual food crops on steep slopes) even when this is clearly non-sustainable, for the sake of long term conservation benefits (therefore, planting crops which may not give any productive returns for several years.

LACK OF MARKETS – Geographic isolation and the lack of well developed market infrastructure in most upland areas means that agriculture and forestry activities of upland communities have remained predominantly on the subsistence level.  Opportunities for increasing cash income are largely restricted to a small number of commodities that keep well, have high value, or are easily transported.  Lack of good roads and markets limits the scope for promoting the growing of perennial tree crops as an alternative to annual food crops on steep hill slopes, if the produce is perishable and bulky.  Regrettably, this is the case for most of the fruit tree crops currently promoted in Integrated Social Forestry (ISF) and Community Based Forest Management (CBFM) programs.

These problems were already identified and reported by the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  Perhaps, you might have something better than the recommended solutions of the DENR-FMB to the underlying causes of the degradation of upland resources.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Forgotten Filipino Heroes: Trinidad P. Tecson


FORGOTTEN FILIPINO HEROES: Trinidad P. Tecson
by Antonio C. Antonio
November 30, 2014

When Filipinos talk about heroes, we seem to automatically refer to the following illustrious names: Dr. Jose Protacio Realonda Mercado-Rizal; Andres de Castro Bonifacio; Apolinario Maranan Mabini; Gen. Emilio Famy Aguinaldo, etc.  Our history books, more often than not, often refer to these names as Philippine heroes… leaving the impression that they are the only ones.  However, there really is a long line of heroes that accompany this patriotic group.  They are often referred to as the forgotten Filipino heroes.  Here is one of them.

“Trinidad Perez Tecson was given the title “Mother of Biak-na-Bato” by Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo.  She was also cited as the “Mother of the Philippine National Red Cross” for her service to her fellow Katipuneros.  Along with three other companions, she went to the courthouse in Kalookan to seize firearms.  They overpowered the Guardia Civil and carried away their guns. She also fought with the revolutionaries in 12 battles under five Filipino generals and organized group of women to nurse wounded Filipino soldiers. She died on January 28, 1928.

Tecson was born in San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan, one of the sixteen children of Rafael Tecson and Monica Perez.  She learned to read and write from a schoolmaster named Quinto who was known to be a good teacher in their town.  She was also known to practice fencing with Juan Zeto, one of the local fencers, and was feared throughout the province, called "Tangkad" (tall) by her peers.  Orphaned at a very young age, she stopped school and went with her siblings to live with relatives.  She married at the age of 19, had two children -- Sinforoso and Desiderio, who both died.  Tecson and her husband were engaged in the purchase and sale of cattle, fish, oysters, and lobsters to be sold in Manila.

Tecson joined the revolutionary forces led by Gen. Gregorio del Pilar and participated in the assault on the province of Bulacan.  She also served in the Malolos Republic and was designated as the Commisary of War.  During the American drive northward, she was in Cabanatuan and saw Gen. Antonio Luna’s body.  Bringing with her the sick and wounded revolutionaries, Tecson crossed the Zambales mountains to Sta. Cruz then to Iba.

After the war, her second husband died and she carried on her usual business activities in Nueva Ecija, concentrating on selling meats in the towns of San Antonio and Talavera.  She married her third husband, Doroteo Santiago, after whose death she got married to Francisco Empainado.  She had a total of four husbands in her lifetime.  On January 28, 1928, she died in the Philippine General Hospital at the age of 80.  Her remains lies in the Plot of the Veterans of the Revolution in Cementerio del Norte. (Wikipilipinas)

Reading literature about our heroes should rekindle our patriotic spirit aside from learning from the life and time of these forgotten Filipino heroes.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Forgotten Filipino Heroes: Panday Pira


FORGOTTEN FILIPINO HEROES: Panday Pira
by Antonio C. Antonio
October 30, 2014

When Filipinos talk about heroes, we seem to automatically refer to the following illustrious names: Dr. Jose Protacio Realonda Mercado-Rizal; Andres de Castro Bonifacio; Apolinario Maranan Mabini; Gen. Emilio Famy Aguinaldo, etc.  Our history books, more often than not, often refer to these names as Philippine heroes… leaving the impression that they are the only ones.  However, there really is a long line of heroes that accompany this patriotic group.  They are often referred to as the forgotten Filipino heroes.  Here is one of them.

“Panday Pira (1488 – 1576) was a Pampango blacksmith who is acknowledged as “The First Filipino Canon-maker”.  His name literally translates as “Blacksmith Pira”, panday being the Filipino word for blacksmith.

Panday Pira was a native of the southern islands of the Philippines.  He migrated to Manila in 1508 and established a foundry on the northern bank of the Pasig River.  Rajah Sulayman commissioned Panday Pira to cast the cannon that were mounted on the palisades surrounding his kingdom.  In 1570, Spanish forces under the command of Martin de Goiti captured Manila and took these artillery pieces as war booty, presenting them to Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the first Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines.

Legaspi eventually established a permanent Spanish settlement in Manila on May 19, 1571 and on June 3 of the same year, Rajah Sulayman waged the Battle of Bankusay Channel to re-capture his kingdom from the Spaniards.  Rajah Sulayman failed in this and perished in the battle.  Panday Pira then fled to Pampanga where he attempted to begin a new life in Sitio Capalangan in the town of Apalit, working as a blacksmith forging farm implements.  He was, however, summoned by Legaspi back to Manila and put to work forging cannons for the Spaniards.  He established his foundry in what is now Santa Ana.  Santiago de Vera, the sixth Governor-General, commissioned him to cast cannons for the defences of a fortress he built, the fortress of Nuestra SeƱora de Guia (Spanish, “Our Lady of Guidance”), now called Intramuros.  To the Spaniards, Panday Pira was known as Pandapira, and they exempted him from paying tribute and forced labor.

In 1576, Panday Pira died at the age of 88.  His death was a great loss to the Spaniards who had to petition the King of Spain for a blacksmith to take his place.  It was not until 1584, that a Spanish blacksmith from Mexico arrived.” (Wikipedia)

Reading literature about our heroes should rekindle our patriotic spirit aside from learning from the life and time of these forgotten Filipino heroes.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)



Direct Causes of the Degradation of Upland Resources (Part 2)


DIRECT CAUSES OF THE DEGRADATION OF UPLAND RESOURCES (Part 2)
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 19, 2014

Environmental disturbances are largely caused by human activities.  These activities are the direct causes of upland resource degradation. As reported by the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, these are:

POOR FORESTRY ACTIVITIES – This is defined as the improper management of natural uplands and tree plantation/woodlots.  These include a variety of poor upland management practices such as the use of destructive timber harvesting technologies, badly constructed extraction roads, inappropriate planting establishment practices (therefore,  removal of groundcover by burning/ clean weeding, planting in lines up and down the slope).  This category would also include the replacement of a mixed natural upland with plantations of a very limited range of exotic species.  Degradation types commonly linked to this causative factor are soil erosion and downstream sedimentation, loss of soil nutrients, and loss of biodiversity/wildlife habitat.

OVERGRAZING – Besides actual overgrazing by livestock, trampling of surface soil and vegetation can be considered under this heading.  Soil compaction and/or a decrease of plant cover, may in turn give rise to soil erosion and reduced infiltration of rainwater.

INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITIES – This includes all human activities of a (bio)industrial nature: industries, factory farming (therefore, large scale commercial poultry and piggery units), power generation, mining, building of infrastructure, urbanization, waste handling, etc.  It is most often linked to pollution of different kinds (either point source or diffuse).  In addition to possible chemical and organic pollutants, uncontrolled rainwater runoff from mine spoil heaps, unconsolidated roadside cuttings and embankments, and the establishment of urban and industrial sites can be the source of significant quantities of downstream sediment.

UNREGULATED LAND CONVERSION – Legally designated upland lands are illegally developed for agriculture, residential, commercial and/or industrial purposes.  This will contribute to degradation if such land uses, or the management practices followed, are unsuitable.  Farm households affected by the conversion of agricultural lands to commercial, industrial, residential, and recreational (golf courses) uses may be forced to seek land elsewhere, which in the land scarcity situation prevailing in the Philippines usually means moving into marginal upland areas.  Hence, unregulated urban and industrial expansion within lowland agricultural areas may be a contributory factor to upland degradation elsewhere.

Writing about these seemingly negative occurrences in the uplands is intended to increase the level of awareness on these dire environmental events so that we (individually or collectively) could do something about these direct causes of the degradation of upland resources. 

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Friday, December 19, 2014

Direct Causes of the Degradation of Upland Resources (Part 1)


DIRECT CAUSES OF THE DEGRADATION OF UPLAND RESOURCES (Part 1)
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 19, 2014

Environmental disturbances are largely caused by human activities.  These activities are the direct causes of upland resource degradation. As reported by the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, these are:

DEFORESTATION AND REMOVAL OF NATURAL VEGETATION – This is defined as the near complete removal of natural vegetation (usually primary or secondary upland) from large stretches of land.  This can occur by converting upland into agricultural land, large scale commercial forestry, road construction, or urban development.  Deforestation not only leads to erosion and loss of nutrients, but also t loss of wildlife habitat, micro-climate changes, and loss of production potential from a range of wood and non-wood renewable resources.

OVER-EXPLOITATION OF VEGETATION FOR DOMESTIC USE AND COMMERCIAL SALE – This causative factor does not involve the (near) complete removal of the “natural” vegetation, but rather a degeneration of the remaining vegetation.  This results in insufficient protection against erosion, as well as loss of production potential and ecosystem degradation.  It includes activities such as uncontrolled logging and excessive gathering of fuelwood, poles, rattan, nuts, vines, fodder, etc.

POOR WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT – The over extraction of water (for irrigation, urban and industrial use) from rivers and other water sources leads to reduced downstream availability.  Where water is returned after use may have a higher salt content and/or be polluted from agro/industrial chemicals and human wastes.  Inefficient irrigation practices, wasteful urban/industrial water use and leakages from water delivery systems all contribute to water shortage problems.  In many lower upland areas, the technology of tubewells has led to abstraction of water in excess of natural recharge by rainfall, river seepage, and a progressive lowering of the water table.  In coastal areas, over extraction of groundwater has resulted in salt water intrusion into the freshwater aquifer (a growing problem in Cebu).

POOR AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITIES – This is defines as the improper management of cultivated arable land.  These include a wide variety of practices, such as absence or poor maintenance of erosion control measures, improper crop rotations, shortening of the fallow period in shifting cultivation, insufficient or excessive use of fertilizers, and use of poor quality irrigation water.  This category also includes the extension of cultivation onto lands of lower potential and/or high natural hazards (therefore, steep slopes).  Degradation types commonly linked to this causative factor are soil erosion, soil compaction, loss of soil nutrients, and water pollution (by sediment, particles and fertilizers).

Writing about these seemingly negative occurrences in the uplands is intended to increase the level of awareness on these dire environmental events so that we (individually or collectively) could do something about these direct causes of the degradation of upland resources. 

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Benefits from Upland Ecosystems


BENEFITS FROM UPLAND ECOSYSTEMS
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 16, 2014

The benefits from upland ecosystems can generally be classified into (1) economic benefits, (2) social services and (3) environmental services.

ECONOMIC BENEFITS from the uplands:
  1. Felling of natural forest trees for timber, poles and fuelwood;
  2. Harvesting of minor forest products such as rattan, fibres, wild foods;
  3. Felling of commercial tree plantations for timber, poles, fuelwood, pulp;
  4. Felling of trees within small-scale individual/community woodlots/tree plantations for timber, poles and fuelwood;
  5. Water supply for domestic and industrial use from surface or ground water sources;
  6. Irrigation of annual and perennial crops;
  7. Hydroelectric and geothermal power production;
  8. Agricultural activities for annual crop production;
  9. Agricultural activities for perennial crop production;
  10. Small-scale livestock production activities;
  11. Large-scale intensive livestock production activities;
  12. Fishery activities;
  13. Mining production activities; and,
  14. Quarrying production activities.
SOCIAL SERVICES aimed at improving the quality of life in the uplands:
  1. Tourism Activities (eco-cultural-tourism and scenic landscape tours);
  2. Recreational Activities (hiking, trekking, mountain climbing and water sports);
  3. Historical Activities (historical monuments and archeological sites);
  4. Cultural Activities (burial sites and indigenous cultures, beliefs and knowledge);
  5. Health Services (clean air and water);
  6. Livelihood, Social Equity and Poverty Alleviation programs and projects; and,
  7. Prevention of Rural-Urban Migration.

ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES from the uplands:
  1. Carbon sequestration;
  2. Biomass production;
  3. Oxygen production;
  4. Perpetuates the water cycle with specific functions for filtration and steady supply of good quality water;
  5. Biodiversity Service function in the protection of endangered species, preservation of ecosystems and the preservation of the natural, agricultural and forestry gene pool;
  6. Prevention of soil erosion, soil fertility, slope stabilization and landslide control;
  7. Water conservation, storage and pollution control; and,
  8. Flood mitigation, reduction of surface run-offs, reducing peak streams and river flows after heavy rains.

Upland ecosystems contribute more than tangible good but also intangible services.  Many songs and poems are made by composers and poets from inspiration they get from green and healthy upland ecosystems.  Writers curiously become prolific when they are near Mother Nature.  A lot of people also find peace, tranquillity and spiritual renewal by simply spending time in the mountains and woods.  These goods and services, plus some more I could have missed, are the benefits from upland ecosystems.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Participatory Strategy


PARTICIPATORY STRATEGY
by Antonio C. Antonio
November 23, 2014

“Communicating Climate Change from the Perspective of Local People: A Case Study from Arctic Canada” by Neil Ford is a very good read.  It details the techniques used in (a) identifying climate change phenomena occurrences from the knowledge and views of the Inuvialuit community (an aboriginal group in Arctic Canada), (b) gathering traditional/folk knowledge and scientific data on climate change in Sach Harbour, (c) organizing the gathered data, (d) prioritizing the problems and concerns, (e) identifying corresponding strategies to mitigate climate change, (f) coming up with a comprehensive report on the results of the study, (g) producing documentary (technical paper and videos) on the case, and, (h) implementing an information dissemination strategy to increase the level of knowledge and awareness on climate change.

There also was a very good attempt to promote participatory management by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the institution that initiated the study.  This was done by involving local residents, particularly the Inuvialuit, by way of collecting traditional knowledge and interviews for the video documentaries.  The study should have been ideal and acceptable if not for the $100 that was paid to the interviewees.  More often, paid interviewees will say anything that the interviewers want to hear… this certainly dilutes the indigenous knowledge, data and information gathered on climate change in the area.  This case study, however, is a relative success compared to a previous experience I personally encountered.

In 1986, I used to work for an American company, Conley and Associates, Inc. (CAI) of Whittier, California, that managed an oil and gas exploration project in Victoria, Tarlac for a consortium of Philippine oil and gas exploration companies.  Ramon “Monty” Pedrosa, and I (together with a driver) were dispatched by Mr. Donald Gene Landsford, CAI’s COO, to Mt. Pinatubo, Pampanga to study the possibility of the company entering into a geothermal project in the area.  Aside from being the Finance Director, I was actually included in the mission since I spoke Pampango.

On Mt. Pinatubo, we discovered that the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) already had on-going drilling projects on what was considered a “dormant” volcano.  We went on to plot the locations of these drilling projects, gather as much data and information, and also touched-base with local Aeta tribesmen in the area.  To gather more information, particularly traditional knowledge on the area, we decided to make camp and pitch our tents near the area where the nomadic Aeta community stayed.

One night, we got to break bread and rub elbows with a few tribal elders… since there was nothing more to do at night.  I still remember Tatang Peping who shared with us some rather dire stories.  He said: “Deng PNOC a ren, ala nong gewa nung ali mamusbus nang mamusbus king gabun. Atin nong sangkang mimwa deng ispiritu kanyan.” (These PNOC people have done nothing but bore holes in the ground. The spirits now have reasons to be angry.)  When asked if they were consulted about the geothermal drilling projects, Tatang Peping said they were never were.  He added that sooner or later the mountain gods will punish man for desecrating a sacred mountain.  In an article “God and the Forest” published on my blogsite (http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/04/god-and-forest.html) I mentioned: “Most upland dwellers revere the forest as spiritual and sacred.  It will not be hard to understand this since the forest provides them with means of survival… food, shelter and a venue to congregate, socialize and interact with others.  Their culture and spiritual beliefs are moulded by their forest environment and landscape.  There are some who would even say (individually or collectively) that the forest is regarded as their god, their heaven, their world and their religion.  If we were to consider the spiritual beliefs of the upland forest dwellers as a contextual framework, a view takes shape that God and the forest are closely related... or, at the very least, viewed on the same spiritual plane.”  On June 15, 1991, Mt. Pinatubo made a catastrophic eruption.  Whether this had anything to do with the geothermal drilling is something I do not know.  What I know is that Tatang Peping and the rest of his Aeta tribesmen were not too comfortable with these drilling projects.

The Inuvialuit of Arctic Canada and the Aeta of Mt. Pinatubo maintained their own indigenous knowledge on the respective areas they lived in.  Unfortunately, the Aetas were not able to contribute to science on account of their indigenous knowledge on volcanic activities… not like the Inuvialuit who were able to help in the formulation scientific mitigation strategies on climate change.  I strongly believe that, to come up with meaningful projects and to guarantee the success of environment-related projects, what is critical is the use of a participatory strategy.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Is This Right?


IS THIS RIGHT?
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 17, 2014

“Greenpeace International set off a firestorm in Peru last week, and not the kind it had hoped for.  After a few of its members damaged, perhaps irreparably, one of the most important cultural heritage sites in the country, a debate is beginning over how to interpret the environmental group’s offensive actions.  Greenpeace’s intention was good, some argue.  It’s not like the whole organization was in on it.  Think of all the other important acts Greenpeace has done in the past, they say.  The climate movement needs Greenpeace.

But others maintain Greenpeace International committed a grave offense.  Its illegal actions illustrated the group’s willingness to disrespect cultural patrimony for the sake of making a headline.  And in a way, its attempt to promote renewable energy may have actually set back that very cause, as political opponents jumped on the story as indicative of a radical and crass organization with no real respect for the environment.

This is the dispute that has preoccupied climate and environmental advocates since it was discovered last week that Greenpeace had trespassed on to the world-renowned Nazca Lines to lay a bright yellow banner urging a switch to renewable energy.  The combination of banner-plus-Peruvian World Heritage site was meant to draw attention to the U.N. climate talks held in nearby Lima.  But the stunt backfired, and Peruvian officials say the activists’ footprints permanently damaged the area surrounding the ancient hummingbird geoglyph.

Along with riling the Peruvian government (which has pledged to file criminal charges against the offending activists) and damaging the site, the situation has drawn a rift between environmentalists.”  (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/12/16/3603899/greenpeace-nazca-peru-climate-message/)

Environmental science is multidisciplinary and, therefore, covers a wide array of concerns to include culture and the preservation of it.  Niccolo Machiavelli’s famous saying “The end justifies the means.” is not at all applicable in all cases.  Greenpeace International is one of the prime movers of environmentalism in the world… but they should find more acceptable reasons to justify their actions.  They need to ask themselves “Is this right?”

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)




Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What the World Needs to Do


WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS TO DO
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 16, 2014

Three days ago in Lima, Peru, the United Nations members have reached an agreement on how countries should tackle climate change.  Delegates present approved a framework for setting national pledges to be submitted in a climate change summit in Paris, France next year.  The culmination of the conference was delayed for two days because of differences over the draft text.  Environmental groups denounced the framework as a weak and an ineffectual compromise.  Unfortunately, the strategy of Greenpeace (an international environmental advocacy group) did not do much to stress their concern after they desecrated a UNESCO Heritage Site in Peru.

In the Paris summit next year, the expected international pledges on decreasing carbon emissions and reducing greenhouse gases is aimed at limiting global warming to the target threshold of 2 degrees Centigrade.  Most attendees are not too optimistic whether the target pledges could be realized in the Paris summit especially now that the rich countries feel harassed.

The controversy drew bold lines between rich and poor countries in the world.  Poor countries basically demanded for (a) the rich countries to dramatically bring down their carbon emission and (b) assist poor countries severely affected by climate change.  This was almost demanding the more economically advanced countries to “pay” which was largely viewed as pinning the blame on them.

At this crucial stage, finger-pointing will only serve to polarize and divide the international community on the issue of climate change… and will not be good for everyone.  Simplifying things, the rich countries should seriously commit to substantially reducing their greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions; and the poor countries should stop whining and unduly burdening the more developed countries on their individual environmental woes.  It should be every country’s responsibility to look into doable mitigation measures with whatever resources they have within their territorial boundaries.  We all need to give the Paris agreement next year a chance.  This will be the ideal “middle ground”… this is what the world needs to do.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Monday, December 15, 2014

Indigenization


INDIGENIZATION
by Antonio C. Antonio
October 29, 2014

Indigenization is a term used primarily by anthropologists to describe the process and results when upland indigenous communities are subjected to something (culture, practice or belief) from the “outside” and is assimilated by these communities.  The primary indigenous community which is internationally recognized are the Ifugaos.

“Ifugao” is a local term “i-pugo” which means “i” (signifying a person/people) and “pugo” which means “hill”.  Putting these two meanings/definitions together will simply mean “people of the hill” which is what the Ifugaos want to known for.  The Ifugao is a mountainous landlocked province in the northern part of the Luzon Island in the Philippines.  The Ifugao province is known for the Rice Terraces of the Cordilleras and the Banaue Rice Terraces which were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  The construction and subsequent productive use (rice farming) of these terraces is done using the artisan’s (meaning: a worker in a skilled trade that involves making/crafting products and produce by hand) bare hands.

The contemporary Ifugaos are agricultural families where traditional farming skills are passed on from generations to generations.  Modern Ifugao families however allowed their children to attend schools where they started to assimilate new knowledge and technology (to include information technology) as well.  This is where the conflict between old and new ways of life starts.  The more profound effects of indigenization will happen if and when indigenization of the Philippine education curriculum will happen.  This program of the DepEd has already commenced.

If we were to consider harmonizing, balancing and integrating traditional beliefs with modern technology, education should be the key to accomplishing this.  There are no quick solutions in the indigenization process.  But the fact that indigenous communities are now open to the idea of sending their children to school is a fair beginning.  “The process of indigenization would depend on the pace of each community.  It will happen in one snap.  Our target is that each school with indigenous people learners should indigenize its curriculum.  The curriculum should be culture-sensitive, contextualized, responsive and flexible for the communities.” according to Rozanno Rufino of the DepEd’s (Department of Education – Philippines) Indigenous Peoples Education Office.  For this program to work there should be an active and functional process of consulting with the leaders and elders of individual indigenous tribes for them to be able to interface their respective traditional culture and practices with the curricula for primary and secondary-level education. 

For our indigenous communities to embrace change related to economic developments, progress, modernization and modern technology, one thing is absolutely needed… indigenization.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Environmental Follies


ENVIRONMENTAL FOLLIES
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 5, 2014

The term “folly” (plural: “follies”) has the following meanings: (a) The state or quality of being foolish; (b) The lack of understanding; (c) The lack of sense; (d) A foolish action, practice, idea, etc.; (d) Absurdity; (e) A costly and foolish undertaking; (f) Unwise investment or expenditure; (g) A whimsical or extravagant structure built to serve as a conversation piece, lend interest to a view, commemorate a person or event, etc; (h) A theatrical revue; (i) Wickedness; and, (j) Wantonness.  Most definitions, however, are on the negative side.

On the more personal-individual aspect and relating the word “folly or follies” to the environment, this terms can translate to the following situations: 
  • I don’t know and I don’t care to know about the environment;
  • I know enough about the environment to get by;
  • I know everything about the environment and no need to learn more; and,
  • I don’t know enough and still want to learn more about the environment.

Simply said, environmental folly is the lack of good sense and foolish beliefs about the environment.  The first three bullets which are again on the negative side are the more common personal mindsets, beliefs and worldview about environmental follies.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Saturday, December 13, 2014

This Little Christmas Story


THIS LITTLE CHRISTMAS STORY
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 25, 2013

In this day and age of rapid development in tele-communications, we can only wonder how our forefathers utilized smoke signals and drums to convey messages across visual and earshot distances.  Today, aside from the regular mailing system, facsimile machines, electronic mail, etc., we also have the mighty cellular phone.  There are some mobile phones available in the market lately do not only have the SMS (short message service) but MMS (multi-media message service) and online virtual communications (such as Skype).  Using these lightweight gadgets, we could not only send alphabetical, graphic and picture messages but talk and see the person on the other end of the line as well.

Communication is so critically important in our lives that the absence or lack of it could possibly lead to certain disasters.  The following short story dwells, not only communications per se, but communicating with a purpose… communicating effectively… and, communicating intelligently.

It’s a Sunday dinner at the dela Cruz Family home.  Papa Pedro and Mama Nena, their sons Pedrito and Junior, and daughter Girlie were all animatedly exchanging notes about the new stuff they bought from the mall earlier that day.  Junior, the youngest dela Cruz, complained that his newly bought pair of blue jeans was a little long and needed to be trimmed by 2 inches.

After dinner, Junior left his denim pants on the sofa and went downstairs to see his playmates… Pedrito entered his room and continued doing school work on the computer… Girlie went to the family room to make telebabad… Papa Pedro went to the living room for his nightly coffee and newpaper… and, Mama Nena went on to clear the table and wash the dishes.

30 minutes passed and Papa Pedro, having finished his coffee and reading his newspaper, saw Junior’s pants, cut-off 2 inches and went to the master’s bedroom to sleep.  Pedrito got out of his room for a drink and, on his way to the fridge, saw Junior’s pants and remembering his younger brother’s request, cut 2 inches off the pants.  Girlie finally ran out of things to talk about on the phone, got out of the family room, saw Junior’s pants on the sofa… cut 2 inches more.  As if the irony wouldn’t end… when Mama Nena finished tidying-up the kitchen, she proceeded to the living room and did her youngest son a favour.  From a request of 2 inches to be cut, a total of 8 inches was actually taken off.  Needless to say, the story ended in a disaster… and Junior cried a bucket-full of tears that night.

Everyone would agree that all the dela Cruz family members meant well for little Junior.  However, their failure to communicate with each other in a seemingly simple undertaking proved to be a very painful experience, not only for Junior but for the rest of the family as well.  This sort of experience can also happen to us.  We belong and interact with other people at work, in school or other collegial organizations... environmental advocacy groups included.  There is no doubt that all of us mean well for whatever group we belong… And working together for the greater good of an organization entails communication… effective communications to foster efficiency and development.

Advances in communications technology are just tools for effective and convenient communications.  Communications is not only the mere motions of talking but the art of listening.  Listening, however, may not be enough... we must listen with our hearts.  Let us not be like the dela Cruz family in this little Christmas story.

 Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Only One Motorcycle


ONLY ONE MOTORCYCLE
by Antonio C. Antonio
December 7, 2014

In 1986, I was working for an oil and gas exploration company and we rented Rig No. 10 of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) for use in our drilling operations.  One day, work had to be stopped because of a broken part in the drilling rig.  A meeting was called to address the problem… the damaging downtime the company was experiencing.  Our consultant from the United Kingdom recommended that someone be immediately dispatched to Japan to procure a replacement part. 

Right after the meeting, I requested the supervisory crew of Rig No. 10 to meet with our British consultant, our CEO and me.  In the meeting, an old hand (who was part of the crew; was very experienced but only a high school graduate) suggested:  “We no replace… we just remedyo.”  Our CEO, an American, whispered to me: “I’m not exactly sure what this guy meant but I like the sound of it.”  We immediately brought the old hand to the nearest hardware store to get the materials he needed… and, lo and behold, Rig No. 10 was operational within 3 hours after our meeting.  The total cost?... PhP 280!  This translated to a minimum of PhP 2 million in savings if we actually sent someone to go to Japan to buy the part.

Filipino ingenuity is grossly underrated.  Let’s take the accompanying photo as an example.  Someone from the more advanced countries and economies in the world will probably say that it would take two, three or even four motorcycles to accommodate seven people.  In the Philippines, it takes only one motorcycle.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Indigenous Knowledge Systems


INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS
by Antonio C. Antonio
October 29, 2014

Indigenous Knowledge systems generally refer to knowledge systems embedded in the cultural traditions of indigenous or local communities.

Earlier this year, I read a book “Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Current State and Trends”.  In Chapter 24, Mountain System – Social and Economic Conditions, the book is also full of generalizations.  “The statement that “mountain areas are perceived as economically backward and culturally inferior” does not seem to be accurate.  Of course, for safe measure, the authors also stated: “But there are some exceptions.”  In the Philippine setting, I would readily agree that mountain areas are “economically backward” but would seriously disagree that upland communities are “culturally inferior.” (Antonio, 2014, “Author’s Prudence”, http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/06/authors-prudence.html)  The authors seem to have accepted this inaccurate worldview or perception.

To understand the dynamics of upland life from that of the lowland, I also researched and wrote another blog entitled “God and the Forest” (http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/04/god-and-forest.html) where I wrote the following:

“Most upland dwellers revere the forest as spiritual and sacred.  It will not be hard to understand this since the forest provides them with means of survival… food, shelter and a venue to congregate, socialize and interact with others.  Their culture and spiritual beliefs are moulded by their forest environment and landscape.  There are some who would even say (individually or collectively) that the forest is regarded as their god, their heaven, their world and their religion.  If we were to consider the spiritual beliefs of the upland forest dwellers as a contextual framework, a view takes shape that God and the forest are closely related... or, at the very least, viewed on the same spiritual plane.

We are, at this point, just about ready to get lost in this confusing collage of words and word meanings.  Perhaps, the best way out is to make assumptions.  So going back to Mr. Muir’s statement (“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”) and fusing this with the spiritual beliefs of the upland forest dwellers, it is quite possible that the word “universe” could very well mean “God” and the “forest wilderness” means “the world we live in.”  This is also consistent with the core religious beliefs of the upland forest dwellers that there is no significant difference between their God (the provider) and the forest (the provider as well).

Upland forest dwellers are no different from their brothers who live in the lowland plains when it comes to spirituality and religious beliefs.  In fact, the presence of much more socio-economic and political activities and problems in the plains provide more distractions than the simple lifestyle of the upland dwellers.  These activities and problems oftentimes weaken their religious beliefs and devotions too.  The simplicity of upland forest life provides for simple mindsets such as the relationship between God and the forest.”

Having stated all of these, it will be easy to establish that both upland and lowland communities have a traditionally accepted indigenous knowledge systems.  These indigenous knowledge systems, however, may significantly differ primarily because of environment and technological influences.  I should add that cultural and traditional belief and knowledge system in the upland is stronger and more profound.  This is because of lesser technological influences.  Dr. Felix Librero (1999) wrote: “Indigenous knowledge systems contain beliefs that strongly influence the behaviour of local communities with regard to the environment.”

There are customs and practices in the upland communities which will take several generations to change such as an indigenous knowledge system.

Just my little thoughts…


(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)