THE Sun Star editorial of March 26, 2010 said it well. Compartmentalized development is never coherent as a thought. Its application for the common wealth is a waste of resources that in the end leaves expectant beneficiaries empty handed and confused.

The textbook operative word for development and its application is “integrated.”

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The original creation in all its forms is efficient and effective because it is integrated. I anchor my notions of development on that perspective. If this outlook is lost in the development work, taxpayers’ money, goodwill investments, expertise, time and a whole lot of resources are as good as lost. Presumptuous creatures behaving as creators would rather create endless and meaningless behemoths or manipulate created organisms that turn out into unwanted viruses – all legacies of greed or bruised egos.

My grade school daughter asked me a seemingly nonsensical question. What is a bird? She sees lots of house birds at home. They chirp and make noise all day! They scratch and spread the potted soil grown with ornamental plants in our porch. They poo on laundry left to dry you wish they are not there. What is a bird? Some questions are not that simple to answer for a guy committed to development work. The dilemma challenges my mind about the number of nonsensical development work done in the country in response to some fanciful and passing human needs. Would I have responded that birds are pest? In which case, it calls for my continued development and employment of poison or trap technologies to get rid of them from my environment. Or I might as well do some encasing on our porch with glass, my own contribution or legacy to the growing list of development stupidities.

Indeed, development work and its operatives must not churn out thoughts and outputs that degrades life and leaves the people empty handed. Development as a philosophy and a pursuit looks at all beings in their integrity. A bird is an independent being with several integrated parts. A feather, beak, claws is not the bird. If you focus your vision on the claws alone, it is easy to imagine the bird not in its integrity and beauty but a monster.

But a bird is not really a bird in its real sense unless it is perched on a branch or is freely sucking nectar from a flower. We know that bird, in its entire splendor, from various wild life photos. A genuine developmental mind considers the reality of the bird in a forest with trees, shrubs, orchids, grasses, animals, rocks, streams, brooks, rivers, fishes and worms in their independent and integrated forms.

Sustainable development applied even for the bird life seeks out the balance for their continued existence. The real essence of the pursuit of development is not to cause an imbalance in the created order that causes an endless chain of disappearing bird life forms, distorted senses of existence, beauty and integrity.

We do all suffer from empty development promises because we don’t see genuine development being pursued or undertaken on the ground. We may perhaps brag about several development projects being undertaken but many do make us imagine seeing monsters instead. Not well integrated, these satisfy specific needs for a time. Soon enough, we much being done about feathers, claws or beaks do not give us a sense of an integrated and functional being. In some instances, the imbalance that wayward “development” causes on the ground are like cancer cells that inconveniences, distorts, frightens or harasses our wellbeing.

What a waste and menace development work has become when we invest too much on irrigation, potable water works and hydropower projects downstream but cut all the trees from the watersheds or encourage mining or housing upstream. What is the point of implementing and killing development projects in one place because their objectives and utility are not integrated and do not match. When the water source has dried out or contaminated, we simply forget the wasted resources and invest more, this time tapping water in more distant places. Problem is nobody can guarantee that those distant water sources are protected and will be conserved mainly as watersheds for irrigation, potable water and power use. Those sources are to be treated as such “for the time-being” basis.

The sure thing is we will continue investing and generate more wastes for these projects in the name of food security.

The highlands, the lowlands and the seas; mankind, beast and plants are all integrated.

Of the created order, only mankind has the power to waste or enhance the balance of the earth’s ecosystem. Development pursued only for economic means and for vested interests corrupts the concept and its pursuit in the service of quality living.

Integrated development is to me, an ideal quest. It must be pursued in the same zest and idealism. And people who have abused development to advance political and selfish economic interests have no right to tell me about its pursuit in the practical scheme of their world. The force of their numbers and combined outlook on development is too great as to inflict too much damage in the continued wastage of the Filipinos resources, lives and dreams.

On that note, I say Sun Star Baguio has strung a sensitive cord in the nation’s continuing quest for development and got me singing my own tune.

On a final note, I add here that the challenge of an integrated sense of development rests at the local government levels (LGUs). As stewards of the land and resources in their places of governance, LGU officials and operatives can either allow themselves to be manipulated or function well as gatekeepers and managers of genuine development. Now, how should LGUs pursue integrated development? That is another interesting question and genuine pursuit for good governance in our land.