RANGER STATION, TUBBATAHA REEFS – At around noon each day, eight strapping young men wait for Valerie to make her appearance. Her daily entrance, coming almost like clockwork, is what makes their day.
“That’s Valerie, sir,” Navy PO2 Jonathan Lobo says proudly as a dark shadow swims underneath the posts that hold up this ranger station. Even at some distance, her large disk-like shape, with the four flippers where arms and legs should be, is unmistakable.
Valerie is certainly no mermaid, but she is the only four-limbed female (and even the gender is an assumption, but it seemed impolite to point that out) within miles around that the men ever get to interact with.
She is, in fact, a Hawksbill sea turtle – hardly the stuff of any man’s fantasy, but then here everything else has fins, feathers, or gills.
MOUNT KITANGLAD, BUKIDNON – A peso coin drenched in chicken blood is the welcome offered to visitors to this mountain, which soars 2,899 meters over the city of Malaybalay, and the towns of Lantapan, Libona, Impasug-ong, and Sumilao.
“This will serve as your identification,” says Bae Inatlawan as she hands over the bloody coin, “so that the spirits will allow you to enter.”
Indicative List of ‘Midnight’ Appointments by ex-President Arroyo, Feb. 19 to May 5, 2010
Office of the President, Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations
Source: Former Senior Government Officials
STA. CRUZ, ZAMBALES – For nearly two years now, Leonardo Lustria Jr., manager of the Sta. Cruz water district, has been at his wit’s end trying to find ways to protect the town’s watershed, which feeds Sta. Cruz’s two irrigation systems and provides local folk with potable water.
Some 20 kms from the town proper, the Sta. Cruz watershed was also reforested more than a decade ago through an P18.1-million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) project, which called for the planting of mahogany, acacia, agoho, eucalyptus, and other types of trees, was carried out from 1994 to 1999.
STA. CRUZ, ZAMBALES – Nickel is not doing too well in the world market these days, but residents here do not seem to mind, even though nickel has become one of this town’s major revenue earners.
That’s because whenever nickel commands top dollar, red dust smothers the town’s main highway and the pier, and red mud cakes the roads. Residents also have to share their small barangay roads with huge, lumbering trucks, and when rains come, floodwaters the color of blood fill their ricefields. Meanwhile, up in the mountains, armed guards hired by mining firms menace real and imagined foes and sometimes engage each other in deadly shootouts.
BOKOD, BENGUET — As Lakay Felipe Leano recalls it, newly planted rice seedlings in his village in Bobok-Bisal, Bokod had shriveled and died soon after a major Philippine mining firm began exploring for gold and other metals in the area.
The company denied having caused the drying up of a local creek that had helped irrigate Bokod rice fields. But petitions from the likes of Leano, an Otbong village elder, eventually led the local government to stop the firm’s exploration activities.
TALISAY and SAN NICOLAS, BATANGAS — Being officially designated as a protected area failed to save Taal Lake from environmental degradation, and now some are saying even Environment Secretary Joselito ‘Lito’ Atienza’s defiant “no fish cages” stance for the lake will have the same result.
What may work, say scientists and activists alike, is close coordination and cooperation among all those who depend and benefit from the lake. And while they say vigilant monitoring is a must these days, ensuring that everyone understands the consequence of each one’s action is crucial if the lake is to be kept from further deterioration.