On the Exploitation of the Weak

On the Exploitation of the Weak

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Natural resources are gifts and blessings from the Creator of the universe and as such should be properly and justly exploited as a show of respect to the Giver. However, the problem in this world is that, practically, the strong overruns the weak in their greedy effort to control anything that got to do with survival. Looking back, history is a mute witness to this desire of powerful nations such as Portugal, Spain, Holland, England, and later, America, Russia, Germany, China, and Japan. Earlier in the history of nations, Portugal and Spain, practically divided the world into two hemispheres for appropriation between the two of them. Later, war was used as an instrument for the appropriation of the weak nations among the strong ones.

 

Much later, with the blazed marine trails that lead to practically all continents, strong nations overran all of them, with America and her “Manifest Destiny” ideals, leading the pack. Her obsessive drive was masked with a supposedly noble intention to save the “barbarian” and “pagan” inhabitants of forcefully occupied lands from their misery of ignorance, although, beneath it, was the desire to bleed the lands of their natural resources, and the Philippines was among those that suffered this harrowing fate. It should be noted that long before the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, the early inhabitants had a healthy commercial intercourse with other nations, aside from having their own spiritual leaning which was Mohammedan or Islamic. The Americans did not “convert” the Filipinos into Christianity, as when they came, the Spanish colonizers already did it….all they did was turn the face of the Catholic inhabitants towards Protestantism.

 

If our forefathers fought for the preservation of our nation’s patrimonial rights, today, the Philippine government practically offers it to the highest bidders- whoever they are, if foreigner, the better because of their dollar. The Philippine Constitution meanwhile haplessly and practically turned into a doormat, as provisions after provisions are changed to fit the desires of foreign investors. The apex of irresponsibility was the passing of a law authored by Gloria Arroyo when she was yet a senator, allowing foreigners to own the 100% rights over claimed land intended for mining…this is the root cause of the scandalous mining incidents in the country that to date, have even claimed lives.

 

The Philippine Mining Law passed in 1995 is a glaring example of how lawmakers can be so naïve to the far-reaching effects of nature-related ventures in the country. They do not seem to understand what displacement, pollution, cultural debacle, immorality, and corruption mean. All that they perceive are the dollar and peso, as well as, the glitter of gold…gains that find their way to the pocket of the corrupt government officials instead of the inhabitants of the affected lands. From a national point of view, practically, no significant benefit has ever been “felt”, “observed”, or “enjoyed”, by the citizens, in case the gains have reached the national coffer. Tangible projects on which these gains are spent, are hideously pockmarked with commissions at different levels of transaction….so, what benefit are the greedy talking about?

 

Soil erosion and flood are the effect of the careless exploitation of natural resources while on the part of the inhabitants, forced displacements that lead to their migration to slums of urban areas where they eventually succumb to the pummeling of poverty, are the dismal disheartening results, made more grievous by the wearing down of their cultural values. Many girls and boys turn to prostitution to help eke out a living for their starving families. Families live on sidewalks and “mobile homes” – the pushcart which is the most practical way to carry around collected junks from garbage dumps. Fathers who turned “barkers” in jeepney terminals are lured into easy money by big time drug pushers, dangled temptation that they bit, for which they paid with their life.

 

Catholic bishops and human rights advocates kuno wonder how and why the above-mentioned Filipinos became bad, to the extent of being killed due to their involvement in drug trafficking. These hypocrites are obviously short-sighted because what they see are just the slums where the unfortunate victims live. They fail or refuse to look beyond the slums, so that they will be able to perceive where they came from….and, what made them endure the hellish life in the city!

 

 

Mga Kuwento ng Tagumpay at ang Inutil na Educational System ng Pilipinas

Mga Kuwento ng Tagumpay at ang Inutil na

Educational System ng Pilipinas

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Dahil sa pagputok ng balita tungkol sa disgrasyang inabot ng mga estudyanteng patungo sana sa Tanay (Rizal), kanya-kanya na namang hugas-kamay ang mga ahensiyang may kinalaman sa edukasyon. Sa tindi ng pagkawalang puso ng may-ari ng eskwelahan, nagsalita pa ang isa sa kanilang opisyal na ipagpapatuloy pa rin daw ang sinasabi nilang leadership training. Mabuti na lang at may kumilos upang ito ay mapigilan dahil sa tindi ng ngitngit ng mga magulang ng mga namatay, nasugatan, at mga nakaligtas.

 

Wala na talagang pinagbago ang CHED at DepEd dahil hanggang ngayon ay wala pa rin silang ginagawa upang matigil na ang walang silbing mga field trip at kung anu-ano pang kataranduhan ng mga private schools na hatala namang ginagamit lang para sa junket. Pwede namang gumamit ng documentary films na kuha sa aktwal na pasilidad na gusto nilang pasyalan, bakit hindi nila gawin? Ang sinasabi ng iba ay nakakalibre daw ang ilang titser at opisyal ng eskwelahan sa pagsama sa mga estudyanteng gumagastos ng kung ilang libong piso para lang “makapasa”. At ang matindi, ay ginagamit pa ito ng ibang eskwelahan upang pagkitaan! Kung pinatigil man ang mga walang silbing “field trips”, ito ay PANSAMANTALA na naman!

 

Walang silbi ang diploma sa panahong ito dahil karamihan ng meron nito ay wagas na nagsasabing pampayabalang lang daw naman nila, at sa pag-apply ng trabaho, bahala na daw kung may makita o wala . May alam akong walang interes sa pag-apply kaya apat na taon mula nang makatapos ay istambay pa rin. Kung babae naman, nagkandalosyang na sa kapapanganak ay ni hindi man lang nakapasok maski probationary job. Ang kailangan sa panahong ito ay tiyaga at sipag na maaaring dagdagan ng diskarte. Yong iba ay namumuhunan lang ng laway o “sales talk”, pero kumikita….pero wala silang diploma. Hindi nangangahulugang ayaw ko nang mag-aral o makapagtapos ng kurso ang mga kabataan. Ang ibig kong sabihin dito ay baguhin ang pananaw tungkol sa edukasyon at ang sistema upang hindi mahirapan ang mga estudyante at mga magulang…hindi yong eskwelahan lang ang kumikita.

 

Merong mga eskwelahan na sumisingil ng “security fee”, pero wala naman silang security guard. Ang para naman sa mga magulang, kung hindi kaya ang gastos sa kolehiyo halimbawa, bakit hindi ipasok ang anak sa TESDA? Ang masaklap pa dito, dahil sa K-12 program, sa halip na 4 na taon lang ang high school at pagkatapos ay pwede nang mag-vocational school na mura, nagkaroon pa ng dagdag na gastos sa extended high school na tinawag na “senior high school” na bukod sa mahal na tuition ay halos wala ring napapag-aralan ang mga bata.

 

May isa akong kaibigan na nagkuwentong ang nanay nila ay hanggang Grade Four ang inabot subalit naging matagumpay bilang negosyante na ang inumpisahan ay isang maliit na sari-sari store. Lahat silang pitong magkakapatid ay nakapagtapos ng mga matataas at mamahaling kurso tulad ng “Engineering”. Noong nasa elementary pa daw siya, tinuturuan niya ang nanay nila kung paano isulat ang tamang spelling ng mga pangalan ng produktong tinitinda. At, ang nakakatuwa, madalas daw umutang sa kanila ang principal ng kanilang eskwelahan…at lahat ng mga titser niya! Ang sabing pabiro sa kanya ng nanay niya minsan, “….kita mo na, kung naging principal ako, hindi ko kayo napag-aral lahat…”.

 

Yong isa ko pang kilala, hindi rin nakatapos ng high school kaya nagtanim ng palay at mais at namili pa ng mga ito, pati bigas bilang negosyo. Ngayon, may gilingan siya ng palay at mais at dumami na rin ang mga taniman ng palay, at may international resort pa na sikat sa internet!

 

Yong nakausap kong babae sa isang karinderya sa Sta. Cruz (Manila), akala ko ay katulong, yon pala ay may-ari. Hanggang Grade Two ang inabot subalit may karinderya pa sa Blumentritt, Cubao, Pasay at Baclaran. Yong isa namang akala ko ay driver ng isang SUV na mamahalin, yon pala ay mismong may-ari at ang malaking junk shop sa di-kalayuan ay kanya….hindi rin siya nakatapos ng high school.

 

Masama mang sabihin, pero karamihan sa mga kabataan ngayon ay lulong o adik sa mga gadget at barkada kaya maski simpleng report na gagamitan ng English ay hindi magawa….at karamihan ay mayayabang pa.  Makapag-submit man ng project na ni-research daw ay kinopya pa pati tuldok (period) at kudlit (comma) sa internet. Kaya pagkatapos gastusan ng magulang, pagkakuha ng diploma at maisabit sa dingding, balik uli sa mga bisyo – barkada, basketball, lakwatsa, at gadgets. Ang mga masisisi diyan ay mismong mga magulang at ang inutil na educational system ng Pilipinas!

 

 

Mga Berdugo ng Sangkatauhan at Kalikasan

Mga Berdugo ng Sangkatauhan at Kalikasan

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Isang uri ng dugo ang nananalaytay sa ugat ng mga berdugo ng sangkatauhan at kalikasan – kulay itim na dugo ng kasakiman. Sila ang mga kurakot sa gobyerno, mga drug lords na pasimuno sa illegal na droga, mga illegal loggers at kapitalista ng minahan…mga ganid sa yaman na wala na yatang kasiyahan sukdulan mang masagasaan nila ang karapatan ng ibang tao at masira ang kalikasan.

 

Dahil kahit papaano ay may konsiyensiya din kuno, nagtatago sila sa likod ng maskara na abot-tenga ang ngiti para masabing may busilak silang puso. Upang makapagkunwaring sila ay maka-Diyos, may mga iskolar kuno na pinapaaral, yon pala ay kinakalabaw sa pagtrabaho sa kanilang kumpanya bilang kontraktwal na mga empleyado. Nagpapatayo din sila ng mga simbahan at namimigay ng mga donasyon tuwing may kalamidad, yon nga lang karamihan ay expired o pa-expire na kaya kailangang makain agad at kung hindi ay ibabaon ng DSW na naman sa lupa tulad ng ginawa nila sa Tacloban. Sila yong may mga “Foundation” na itinayo upang magamit lang palang pang-discount sa buwis na dapat nilang bayaran!…mga wise talaga!

 

Mas masahol pa sa on-the-spot na kamatayan ang dulot ng mga berdugong ito dahil unti-unti nilang pinapahirapan ang mga biktima hanggang sa hindi na makagulapay at bumigay….kung hindi dahil sa pagka-adik sa droga ay natokhang nang maging drug runner dahil ang lupang sinasaka sa probinsiyang iniwan ay kinamkam ng mga banyaga upang mapagminahan ng ginto at iba pang likas na yaman.

 

Sila yong nagkakalbo ng dating luntiang kagubatan, ang naghuhukay ng mga lupang nilason ng kemikal na ginamit nila sa pagmimina, na ang tagas ay dumaloy sa mga ilog hanggang sa mga baybaying dagat at pumatay sa mga isda at iba pang yamang-dagat. Sila rin yong nagko-convert ng mga dating sakahan o taniman ng palay at mais upang maging mga subdivision kaya ang bansa na dati ay isa sa mga exporter ng bigas, ngayon ay importer na lang, kaya ang halaga ay halos hindi na kayang abutin ng malaking bahagi ng populasyon ng Pilipinas.

 

Ang mga berdugong ito ay maaaring kapwa Pilipino o mga banyagang dumayo sa ating bansa, nagpundar pero ang kinita ay pinapadala naman sa pinagmulang bansa.

 

 

The Grim Prospect of Exploiting Ligwasan Marsh and Tampakan

The Grim Prospect of Exploiting

Ligwasan Marsh and Tampakan

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Ligwasan Marsh is touted to be very rich in mineral deposits and natural gas, even deuterium. But then, since time immemorial, the marshland has been home to indigenous freshwater fishes of Mindanao…their breeding area, to put it straight. It also offers relief to flooded areas in central Mindanao by serving as some sort of catch basin. If it gets exploited and got drained of its resources, the simplistic conclusion would be: even the lowly tilapia and mudfish would be procured in Bulacan and Batangas in Luzon! How can fish and fresh water plants survive the pollution from chemicals and eventual disturbance from drilling equipments?

 

If ever fish farms would be establish by entrepreneurs for the breeding to sustain the supply of indigenous freshwater fish for local consumption, the choking effect to the consumers will be the same as prices would be dictated not only by big fish farmers but also, by the middlemen. Eventually, high-tech foreign fish farmers would trek into the Promised Land and form corporate conglomerate with local partners…a sure ball for the creation of “cartel” So, we go back again to the issues of “unequal opportunity”, unfair labor practices of foreign employers, etc. At the end, who reaps the “blessings”?….of course, foreign investors who send back their earnings to their country. Meanwhile, polluted water flows to rivers and streams down to the coastal waters of Mindanao…gain for our long-ranged devastation.

 

On the Tampakan Open-pit mining project, aside from the pollution of water resources and soil, farmers shall be displaced from their farms. A B’laan family has been massacred for fighting the aggression on their ancestral domain. Definitely, not only will the displaced tribal families suffer from the consequences that will result to pollution but also those who live on the plains and who depend on the river system for the irrigation of their farms and water supply for their livestock and homes.

 

The crucial choice now is between the direct benefits that financiers shall reap and the uncertain benefits for the communities due to corrupt practices. Another choice is between the 15-20 years short-term employment benefits and the perpetual damage to the land that shall affect generations to come.

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!