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!