Just got back from Malandag, Sarangani Province in Mindanao. We took a land trip to Davao City and the flight back to Manila was horrible. We have to go through a three to four hour delay due to bad weather. Davao City was on halt due to flooding. Upland in Sarangani, flooding is not an issue but the lack of forest cover is sure less protection from a heavy down pour down hill.
Clear cut land is a usual site in my travels and it has been common in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Land has not been properly utilized to maximize its benefits. People in power and the mass and hordes of proverty stricken people have brazenly utilized land towards degradation without foreseeing the possible tragedies that may lie ahead. Regardless of periodic and seasonal tragedies that were already experienced, not much has changed. Population grows grows grows and land is used brazenly, may be this is what we really want small steps towards our total destruction or we just make ourselves blind because not knowing is not hurting.
Walking home after an appointment was cancelled. Please, don’t let us believe that this is God’s Wrath for corruption, this is just another impact of rising sea levels. Climate change is already here, we just need to adapt to it.
Three consecutive posts about Compostela Valley, Philippines. First of a happier time a few weeks back. I even posted that picture happy picture as my facebook profile photo.
It seems climate change is indeed a reality but over and over again in a year we keep on hearing the news of dead bodies being recovered because of lack disaster preparedness and response. It seems this will be the norm, the annual destructive storms and the loss of lives and damage to property that comes with it.
Anyway, we ourselves put ourselves at risk because if you are dirt poor, you rarely think of tomorrow, you think of how you can eke out a living for today. Compostela valley is rich in natural resources. The first thing I noticed when I entered the mountainous areas of the valley is though there is no large scale mining operations and there may be a ban in small scale mining operations, deforestation still occurs. Upland farming is still being done and slash and burn system still prevails.
Everyone has the freedom to do what they want just to survive their day to day situation. That’s a a democracy, I guess. However, freedom puts you at risk because you open yourself up to hazardous situations that can also kill you when the time comes. People know that what they do is dangerous and they know the risk.
I am still not fully comfortable being called an environmental scientist. I just submitted a research proposal to an academic funding agency just to test if my scientific research ability is still…you know…functional.. I am not really aiming for mega ground breaking research similar to the work that led to the Nobel peace prize of the IPCC way back in 2007.
The first scientist designation I received was way back in 2007 during the ISO 14001/OHSAS 18001 re-certification audit of the ADB headquarters here in Manila where one of my bosses referred to me as an environmental scientist. Some people around me thinking, it was weird but Mr. Baldissimo who referred to me as that said that having a masters degree in environmental science makes me an environmental scientist. Though, I don’t find anything special about having that masters degree and I am not the kind of person who would flaunt such a qualification, unless of course I am job hunting.
Maybe I do have that certain cultural stigma about scientists that they are mad, crazy or weird, the nearest thing I could refer to this discomfort is like wearing a bikini on a beach which is totally acceptable in the western world. If wearing a bikini in my country is slowly being accepted, maybe being a scientist could soon be. I can imagine myself wearing a bikini, of course I would have to go through a complete physical overhaul in terms of cosmetic enhancement, even with that I would still feel uncomfortable. I already have my academic background and work experience to back up my scientific qualification yet I still don’t feel comfortable being referred to as an “environmental scientist”. Frankly, I have more right to be called an environmental scientist than to wear a bikini.
Scientists are good people, I have personally met Rosa Perez and Rodel Lasco, Filipinos who have participated in the IPCC who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. I know my peers are scientists, those who have conducted multiple environmental impacts assessments, those who are now teaching in universities and are performing academic research, offering their help in far flung places to extension services and people I had the chance to work with. I asked a BV colleague once about his academic background and he comfortably said that he is an environmental scientist. So am I, but I just don’t feel comfortable saying it openly.
Deep inside, there is something that is holding me back…