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Marrakesh, Morocco | Exploring the Magical Souks

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Our second day at the hotel Caravanserai started with an early breakfast, as we wanted to take the complimentary shuttle bus from the hotel into Marrakesh to visit the souks and see some of the local sights. The bus was just after 10 o’clock and fifteen or so minutes later we were dropped off next to Jemaa El-Fna, the large market square and the main entry point to the souks and the heart of the Medina.

At this time in the morning we could already see the juice stands, and lunch stalls opening up. Plus the side shows of the square with men showing off their monkeys, charming snakes and generally selling small things were all ready for a busy day.   The juice stands sell freshly pressed orange juice for 4 dirhams, which is an absolute bargain compared to prices in Europe. We walked towards…

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The Tampakan Open-pit Mining in South Cotabato (Mindanao)…a virtual hell if pushed through

THE TAMPAKAN OPEN-PIT MINING IN SOUTH COTABATO (MINDANAO)

…a virtual hell if pushed through

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Tampakan is located in South Cotabato and has been in the midst of controversy since many years back because of the interest of Saggitarius Mining, Inc. (SMI) to mine its mineral deposits. At a glance, the following are what the issue is all about:

  • It could be the biggest mining project in the country with a pegged financing of USD5.9billion.
  • It is believed to be the world’s largest gold prospect to date.
  • Tampakan site is believed to contain 2.94 billion tons of minerals that include copper at 15million tons of copper and 18 million ounces of gold.
  • The value of production for twenty (20) years is USD37billion.
  • The site covers an aggregate area of about 10,000 hectares that include (Tampakan) South Cotabato, (Columbio) Sultan Kudarat, (Kiblawan) Davao del Sur, and Malungon (Sarangani).
  • Henry Sy of the SM Group is interested in investing in the project.
  • SMI is being controlled by the Alcantara family (“Sagittarius Mines Inc., the owner of the Tampakan project, used to be 62.5-percent owned by Glencore while the remaining 37.5 percent was owned by Indophil Resources NL, which is, in turn, controlled by the Alcantara group through Alsons Prime Investments Corp. (Apic). Glencore’s exit allowed the Alcantara group to consolidate its control of the Tampakan project by exercising its right of first refusal.”)
  • The Tampakan mining site is located only 50 kilometers from General Santos, the hub of commerce in South Cotabato, with its international-standard port and airport; Koronadal and Tacurong City are near Columbio and between them flows the Buluan River which is the outlet of the Rio Grande de Mindanao which partially flows to Ligwasan Marsh.
  • The project is expected to realize Php1trillion.

 

The open-pit mining at Tampakan shall virtually turn the covered areas into hell, what with the displacement of farmers, pollution of all the rivers, streams that eventually towards the bays, and the open pit itself which according to Secretary Gina Lopez herself, is equivalent to 700 football fields, and much much much worst, shall not be covered after the operations!

 

In view of the above, Minadanaoans who live around the area should unite to block the project and provide DENR Secretary Lopez with a “noisy support”. The mining operation if pushed through shall spell the damnation of practically the whole of southern Mindanao because of the harm from its pollutants – chemicals and exhaust fumes. We do not need this kind of investment!

 

Ang Kaunlaran

ANG KAUNLARAN

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Mga nagtatayugang gusali sa lunsod

Nagliliparang mga sasakyan

Mga ilaw na nakakasilaw

Kaya’t gabi’y parang araw.

 

Mga kamangha-manghang kagamitan

Sa mga tao ay nakakaagapay

Kaya’t buhay na guminhawa

Dapat pasalamatang biyaya.

 

Subali’t kasabay ng natamong ginhawa

Kapalit naman ay pagkalimot

Na sa likod ng mga natamo-

May ISANG naglalang ng mundo…

MUNDONG  NASAULALA…

AT, ANIMO’Y NAGAHASA!

 

Notes:

Nakakaagapay – helps, big help, assists

Naglalang – created

Nasalaula – abused, exploited, “binaboy”

On the Abusive Exploitation of Natural Resources and the Philippines

ON THE ABUSIVE EXPLOITATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES

AND THE PHILIPPINES

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

 

THE UTTER EXPLOITATION OF THE NATURAL RESOURCES THAT EVEN GOES BEYOND THE BORDER OF ABUSE HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS AMONG THE CAUSES OF POVERTY, FLOOD, AND MOST OF ALL CORRUPTION. IN THE PHILIPPINES, THE GOOD INTENT OF THE SECRETARY OF DENR, GINA LOPEZ IN THIS REGARD, IS UNFORTUNATELY, BEING THWARTED BY SECTORS THAT, OBVIOUSLY, HAVE STAKES IN THIS INDUSTRY. IT IS SO SAD TO NOTE THAT SOME OF THEM ARE NOW PART OF THE DUTERTE ADMINISTRATION.

 

MINING HAS DISPLACED FARMERS, POLLUTED WATER RESOURCES AND BAYS, AND DENUDED FORESTS RESULTING TO FLOODING…AND THESE HAVE BEEN HAPPENING FOR DECADES. THE SITUATION HAS BEEN WORSENED BY THE LAW AUTHORED BY GLORIA ARROYO IN 1995 WHEN SHE WAS YET A SENATOR, ALLOWING FOREIGNERS 100% OWNERSHIP OF LAND THAT THEY CLAIM FOR MINING. THE SITUATION GOT WORST DURING THE ADMINISTRATION OF BENIGNO AQUINO III THAT SAW THE SEEMINGLY UNCONTROLLED ISSUANCE OF PERMITS THAT ENRICHED EVEN LOCAL OFFICIALS.

 

IF THE BISHOPS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES KUNO ARE REALLY INTERESTED TO HELP THE FILIPINOS, THIS IS THE AREA THAT THEY SHOULD STEP INTO. UNCHECKED ABUSIVE EXPLOITATION OF THE NATURAL RESOURCES OF THE COUNTRY HAVE A FAR- REACHING MAGNITUDE THAT COULD BE GREATER THAN DRUGS THAT AFFECTS HUMAN LIFE ONLY.

 

MINING NOT ONLY RESULTS TO THE SLOW DETERIORATION OF THE NATURAL RESOURCES, POVERTY AND CRUMBLING OF CULTURAL VALUES BUT ALSO, THE WEATHER SYSTEM THAT DIRECTLY AFFECTS THE WHOLE EARTH!

 

 

Never Underestimate a Photo

Never Underestimate a Photo

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

A photo should never be underestimated. Such printed record could send a person to jail, cause a breakup of once a strong relationship, destroy a person’s life, or worse, cause someone’s death. Psychologists use photos to test the soundness of their patients’ mind.  Due to the varying impression on particular images that people make, some view a certain photo with malice while others are nonchalant about what they perceive.

 

In the Philippines today, due to the scandals that are rocking the government system and its officials, even a lone photograph may be considered very important evidence. This is what’s meant by the line in a song that says, “…a picture could paint a thousand words”….words that are needed to establish a case or develop a story of a committed crime.

 

In this regard, the Vice-President Lenny Robredo posing with the Catholic bishops in a photo could mean a lot because the latter are detractors of President Duterte, while the former is viewed as being used as a tool by the opposition, as well as, the bishops themselves. Senator de Lima shaking hands with the purported drug lords can create so many stories about her link with them. And, President Duterte being kissed on a check by a beautiful admirer could send media people to their laptop and desktop computer to type a scoop.

 

The “photographic” memory of our ancestors enabled them to sketch animals and their daily activities on cave walls and ceilings that helped us understand our past. Though how crudely executed these records may be, without them, we may never have had a glimpse of what transpired in the past.

 

Photographs can also hide and reveal true events and situations, as well as, characters of people. To make any situation convincing before they are photographed, it is enhanced with props. On the other hand, happiness can be temporarily etched on a face – all for the sake of visual recordings that have distinct objectives. While some are used for deception, others have noble intent….the so-called visual “white lie”. And, this is how the “motion picture” or movie was conceived.

 

Today’s world of high technology is being made alive or perked up by photos. People practically want to record what they do, a manifestation of their ego which is the center of the “self”. That is why, inventors are not stopping from conceiving gadgets that would incorporate a photographic lens, such that wireless phones did not end as just an audio gadget, but later developed further to have a camera.  This resulted to some watches having camera, as well as, pens, buttons and many others.

 

Finally, that is how the “inventor” of the facebook raked in billions of dollars….open a site that would accommodate photos of events and frames of quotes. So, next time you open your facebook and post a photo on its wall, remember that you are making someone richer.

And, the next time you open your old albums of photos, cherish those faded records of the past. By the way, even old photos of Nora Aunor could command today a price of not less than 200pesos!

The Dear Price of Promised Progress from the Mining Industry

The Dear Price of Promised Progress

From the Mining Industry

In the Philippines

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Once mined, a particular parcel of land can never recover lost yields – minerals in various forms that sustain life and top soil that enforce the earth’s crust. And, that is what is happening to the archipelagic Philippines which is being eaten up by the industry. Today, the tumultuous political atmosphere of the country is further jittered by the decision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cancel the permit of many mining firms, a decision which is not to the delight of some sectors, especially, those that have been directly and financially affected due to their stakes. A big howl also comes from the purported human rights advocates who use loss of job as their tool for protest, as if only mining offers the opportunity to earn and nothing else.

 

The root cause of the swarming of mining ventures in the country, mostly foreign-based, is the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which was authored by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she was yet, a senator. It allowed foreigners to have a 100% ownership of land areas that they have claimed for mining. The blanket authority eventually paved the way towards the virgin mountains and forests of the country for any foreigner who was willing to invest in mining ventures. Rainforests were cleared, hills and agricultural lands were excavated, and chemicals polluted rivers, streams that flowed to the estuaries and coastal waters…and farmers lost their farms. At the rate abuse of the country’s natural resources are going, this law needs to be revoked.

 

During the presidential incumbency of Benigno Aquino III, the issuance of mining permits multiplied which enriched even local government officials. Although, some of the farmers were employed by the mining firms, their pay was meager compared to the former yields of their farm. The mushrooming of temporary mining communities resulted to the proliferation of crimes and prostitutions that literally eroded the values of the once sedate villagers and scandalized their once laid back way of life. The polluted air and water brought about diseases that emaciated the once healthy locals and the prices of basic commodities, especially, food, soared. Practically, the industry that has been hoped to bring progress, instead, devastated communities and their inhabitants.

 

Although, the financial effect to the country’s economy by the move to stop the mining operation can be recovered from other ventures, the recovery from its effects to the people and community could definitely be felt for a long time, as it involves cleansing of the polluted soil, the water beneath it and what flows on the surface. The government would definitely be helpless, in fact, more helpless, as shown by its inutile effort in tackling other problems that pester the country. This unfortunate fact leaves Mother Nature to do some kind of a self-healing. The eroded moral values and culture of the people may take generations to recoup. On the other hand, those who have been physically suffering and wasting due to the onset of diseases could just gasp for short breaths of the polluted air while holding on to their dear life!

 

At the outset, even without mentioning figures to show its devastation, the effects of the ABUSED OPPORTUNITY in mining the natural resources of the Philippines are very obvious. However, if the government decides to put a stop to it to give Mother Nature some respite, it must have READY FALLBACK PROGRAMS, NOT JUST PLANS for the displaced miners, considering that this problem has been plaguing the country for decades. Farming and fishing in the same devastated areas is out of the question because of the polluted land, rivers and coastal waters.

 

The most realistic move is to relocate the affected people to ANY RURAL AREA of their own choice, an option which means reasonable and realistic compensation. However, this problem could be aggravated if the concerned mining firms would also ask for compensation due to the cessation of their highly-financed operation….a suggestion is to use the confiscated money from drug operations.

 

The mining industry in the Philippines is proof that progress has a dear price. It glaringly shows that any venture that has got to do with Nature’s exploitation can be devastating…even with promises of proper management, as there is an innate tendency of man to deviate from the proper course due to greed!

 

 

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Easy Steps: How to add a flag counter on your blog

Thoughts of SheryL

If you want to see some excitement of sorts on your blog page, why not place a flag counter on it? This isn’t the latest trend on the blogosphere, but for some not-so-internet-savvy humans out there like me, this still sounds new to me. 😀 😀 Better late than never as my ancestors say. 😀

By chance, I recently unearthed this old hit from the grounds of the internet and I thought it was fun to know where your awesome visitors hail from. WordPress has the views counter that you alone can see. Unlike this one, it can be seen by your visitors too and can be an ornament for your blog. Not only does it show me the number of visitors, it also helps me get acquainted with the flags of different countries in the world. How many flags do you recognize? Please don’t ask me that. 😀 Thank you!

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