Eating the environment-A A +A
As I See It
Saturday, January 26, 2013
"CAN you eat the environment?" I frequently hear this question from people who are just watching us bending our hips for the Mother Earth. My answer is, "Yes, we can eat the environment as long as you know the right ingredients."
When we started our serious mangrove rehabilitation program in Balaring in 1997, many residents in the area were just standing and laughing at us.
The mangrove was just there and anyone could just get inside the swamp to cut down trees for fuel and charcoal. We started our advocacy by educating children and parents on the importance of mangrove-protection against big waves, sanctuary for small fish, and breeding ground for seashells. We worked hard with IKAW-AKO Japan Negros Partnership for Environmental Protection. It took us ten years to harvest what we have planted.
Our advocacy encouraged environmentalists and students to buy seedlings from Balaring Planters' Association and planted the said seedlings in our mangrove park. Parents and children are coming to walk in our 131-meter bamboo bridge, climb our bamboo tower to view Guimaras Strait and watch the birds fishing during low tide, and see our display room or have picnic in the sandy shore. Chain of sea food restaurants started to dot the shoreline and they attracted Silaynons and non-Silaynons. All these pour in money for Balaring which benefited the businessmen, drivers, fishermen, and residents. We have eaten the environment.
When we were organizing the residents in Patag to join us in our crusade to rehabilitate the watershed area, many were telling us that the carabaos and goats will just eat the seedlings. Some told us that kaingeros might just burn what we have planted. We took the risk by launching a strong advocacy. We involve the schools, parents, community officials, cooperatives, environmentalists and tourists. We initiated livelihood programs for our members. We taught them simple accounting and tried to sustain what we have started. There came a time that we reaped the fruit of our toils.
Our bantay bukid members with the help of the Provincial Environment Management Office safeguarded the last frontier. Our mountain guides took our visitors to the hidden waterfalls and other natural wonders of the North Negros Forest Reserve... tinagong dagat, sulfatara, pandong bato, sirab peak, and legendary kawa. Our ecotourism program in the area benefited the farmers, vegetable growers and the craftsmen. The economic gain has generated food for the plates of our upland residents.
A journey across Negros Occidental will make you realize that organic contraption of some sort in the reef of Sagay, in the underwater adventure in Sipalay and the blue water of San Carlos will make you hear your eyes and find a haven of harmony. That is environment at its finest. Trekking the slopes and climbing the peak far away from convenience will make you stay away from time. All these are food for the soul.
Negros Occidental is for the environment. Negrosanons advocate organic farming, farm tourism, ecology tourism and we always treasure what nature has bestowed upon us. The mirth of flowers that are tokens of love for Mother Earth adorn stretches of the pristine soil of our province. The infinite alleys of blue and green flanked by cliffs and valleys are invitation to nature lovers to care what the environment offers. These are all to be eaten by the body and the spirit.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 26, 2013.