On the trail of Angels...-A A +A
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
I IMAGINE trails of Angels, now human foot trails during those times of my trekking expeditions in the harsh interior of our Cordillera mountainscapes.
In the trying conditions of those hikes, the heart and lungs relish the gentle wind – cool, fresh and comforting like a song in a lute. With all fibres and filaments in my bones complaining tired, I think I can sleep peaceably well anywhere atop those trails and dream. I imagine I am among angels, seen and unseen.
I kept on walking. I am still human after all. Sooner or later, I will need to sleep, dine and be assured of real time and life in the flesh by the chatter of men. This is why this trail belongs to us now with its own characteristic human stink of urine and uncovered poo elsewhere. Otherwise, most of the trail has retained some of its heavenly scent.
Nature in its pristine conditions expands my imagination about the touch of mighty beings on bare rock mountains and steep canyons. I can see their ancient gardens – of the evergreens and deciduous, the mighty and the frail. In our untouched mossy mountains, you need not imagine about what was left there – the lianas, ferns, orchids, shrubs and trees that flower and change leaves of many colors above and below the tree line. They speak to your sense of being, if you may see through millennia of time – of Edenic gardens to jungles, hunting grounds, community and clan woodlots; and now mostly individual agricultural and residential lands. Alas, like the rest throughout the globe, we conquered nature to end it. It seems to me every generation needed to take everything it can get from nature’s bounty. What any generation could not take down with them, and those they did not know and understand they burned to ashes. They and us are deprived, of course --- losers to unmitigated need and greed. The end of nature and beauty is as much a reality as we no longer sense the presence of Angels in our midst today.
A song artist composed a song which talks about “Angels” among us. I heard that song on the radio before we left to Kayapa, Bakun, Benguet last week. There I see semblances of the old forest among towering mountainscapes. There I saw Enrique Atelba, a former officemate who worked with the DA regional office on a contractual basis. Along with Denver Mariacos, they are serving as agricultural technicians of this municipality.
Upon seeing them, I reported the bad impressions I gathered about agricultural technicians from all over. “I heard that our villages seldom or have not even encountered agricultural technicians anymore,” I said. I added that in other municipalities all that the technicians do is attend lakbay-arals, trainings and meetings. From their looks, I knew they felt bad about the report. In response, they simply said, “here, there are four of us at the municipal agriculture office attending to so many barangays and local folks.” They added that each of them attends to the programs, projects and concerns of the DA’s banner programs on fisheries, livestock, high value crops, corn and rice. In the case of Denver and Enrique, they also attend to CHARM2 Project activities and concerns. This is why, they are here now. As facilitators of the Farmers Field School on Agro-Forestry they spent much time organizing over seventy farmers run their organization, learn to book keep and manage their funds, plan their farms, manage nursery and plant trees, among others.
Later in the day, I gathered from Mr. Bal Claver, CHARM2 Project Community Watershed and Community Forest Management and Agro-Forestry (CWCFMA) Coordinator that municipal agricultural technicians throughout the region should be discerned differently from each other and from how their municipalities prioritize agriculture and natural resources management in their domains. That assessment became clearer to me when the graduating farmers in their songs and spoken testimonies all said that both Enrique and Denver are like Angels in their midst throughout the six months of their classroom and farmers-field training engagement.
Understandably, the key to the successful implementation of agricultural and natural resources development services rest in the hands of the LGU executives. These services are devolved to them. Unfortunately, some LGUs neglected to fill in the vacancies that arose from retiring employees, those who went abroad and those who died. That is only one among many concerns that make the technicians work difficult actually. Some technicians, however, have become more creative given the environment of their work. They serve at the behest and call of their bosses only as if they are private employees.
In Kayapa, I realized that the CWCFMA is pioneering the delivery of CHARM2 Project development services to marginalized and hardly reached areas in the region. Mayor Marcelo Contada of Bakun attested to that in his remarks during the FFS graduation. There is a need to deepen that realization. As the CHARM2 Project continues supporting development in its coverage areas, it is hoped that its partners in the field will learn to prioritize support to agricultural and natural resources development, conservation, protection and promotion. The farmers, Enrique and Denver and like-minded agricultural technicians in the region would really appreciate that thrust from their leaders.
As we navigate the steep one lane and muddy road down to Alilem, Ilocos Sur, we passed by the Luzon Hydropower office there. I understand that the local folks here get free electricity from the plant and as host community, Alilem town get the lion’s share of national wealth accruing from the operation of the hydro facility. I think of Kayapa, which is the watershed of the hydro plant in Alilem. By training them on agro-forestry and natural resources management their environmental services expertise as individuals and community were enhanced. They willingly accepted that thrust and made an oath to conserve and protect their community watershed and forest. What does that make of them should they succeed? I pray that Luzon Hydro should be an Angel to them by supporting and helping the Kayapa folks more to become Angels among us.
Do we thread on the trail of Angels? Let us all help each other protect and conserve nature. The end of nature is certainly the end of us all!
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 10, 2012.