Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Marinduque as microcosm of the Philippines

"Microcosm" is something that is seen as a small version of something much larger.  Like it could be said with even more certainty now that Marinduque is a microcosm of the Philippines. Corruption in government, poverty, environmental degradation, inefficiency in government processes, election issues, etc.

I posted the introduction below, "Marinduque's Troubles" in 2005 in my very first personal blog. Ten years after this article was posted in 2005, nothing has really changed. Issues raised then still remain as they were. In truth, there are more glaring Marinduque provincial issues now that have been posted on this blog, Marinduque Rising, with uncanny similarity to national issues that have confronted us in recent years.

So I am using the same introduction in revisiting very, very current issues and concerns pertaining to the "Heart of the Philippines". 

Marinduque scenery
MARINDUQUE'S TROUBLES 

mi'cro-cosm, n. 1. A little world; esp. man as a supposed epitome of the exterior universe or great world. 2. A community, institution, town, regarded as an epitome of the world or as being a little world. (microcosmic, microcosmical)

"Isla kong hiyas ng bansa,
ganda mo'y likha ni Bathala
Mga dagat mo't mga lupa, 
sa yaman ay sagana..." (from Marinduque March) 

THE HEART of the Philippines. Inmost. Essential. Marinduque (pop.: approximately 227,828 in 2010), with an area of 997 sq. kms. is the second smallest province in the country.

Deforestation by its inhabitants for fuelwood, slash-and-burn method of cultivation over years, surreptitious logging in the few remaining forests and large-scale mining by what was bragged about as the biggest copper-producing firm in the Asia-Pacific, have transformed the island-province.

It is now the third most denuded province in the whole archipelago. After years of tremendous run-offs erosion of soil has accelerated, rendering the inevitable loss of soil nutrients. During normal precipitation looms the glaring evidence of heavy siltation on all its rivers.

Silt washing into rivers, streams and finally to the sea, mudslides flowing over denuded fields, the rampant encroachment in municipal waters by big-time fishing operators and the practice of illegal methods by small-scale fisherfolk, all have taken their toll in the rapid degradation and destruction of fish habitats and breeding grounds. In coastal areas once described 'pristine', the destruction of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove forests have occurred since the start of mining operations.

Fragments of ancient earthenware and seashells that used to be found along the beaches have been replaced by plastic together with all sorts of non-degradable garbage.

Steady encroachment of people to the mountainside and the resulting destruction of watershed areas are drying up rivers, streams and water sources. As a natural consequence, serious signs of the final extinction of rare species of endemic birds, plants and animals have also become so evident. There are ominous signs that nature's capacity to provide the services it normally gives - fresh water and clean air - is losing integrity.

What was described as the biggest environmental disaster in mining history occurred here with the 1996 mine spill on the river of Boac. It killed all riverine life coldly and instantly, a coup de grace to three major issues already confronting the island community before the accident: The toxic waste pollution of Calancan Bay, the high incidence of chemical contamination in the blood of children living in such risk areas, the pollution and heavy siltation of Maguilaguila Dam in Mogpog that posed real danger to lives and property and the earlier, more dramatic death and destruction of Mogpog River that the powerholders managed to hide under the rug.

Seven years hence, these issues have remained as they were then - issues.

After the Boac River episode people pointed fingers at each other as the waters rolled with 20 million tonnes of toxic mine waste now dispersed so magnificently along the estuaries, farther and farther into the waters west of the island - the Tablas Strait.

Today, science is still learning the effects of the mining disasters on the island's already fragile ecosystem and their effects on human health. With next to blind faith on the foreign scientist's ability to find solutions remediation measures are now sought.

The ecological impact of prolonged injection of mine tailings into the shores and inland waters, and on the flora and fauna entering the human food chain is yet to be learned. Such impacts, apparently, must first be heard before any action is undertaken.

And as the river rolls on and on and as the tide chums, deadlock! Nature could only heave a sign and moan to cry out: "Default!"

Susong Dalaga Hill

Susong Dalaga Hill
Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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