Ode to Mt. Apo

Written during my first climb and included in my first book, “Beyond the Horizon”….

 

ODE TO MT. APO

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

You could have just been a dream…

Yet, here I am, biding my time

from where I’ll start my trek

over hills, mountains

thick forests, hot springs and lakes.

 

Please consider me one of your people…

those who dwell at your foot –

Bagobos, Manobos, and others

whose smile, warm and sweet

vanishes the fear and fatigue

of intruders like me and the rest.

 

Uncertain of what to find….

I don’t mind at all

for I know, I’m among a good people.

 

I don’t mind the trek from Makalangit –

past the Fourteen Stations

to Mt. Zion

or the nerve-rending leaps

from boulder to boulder

sixteen times across

the gurgling Marble River

that girdles your waist.

 

Ah, beloved Apo…

your sonorous Twin and Malou Shih Falls

delightfully blend

with the songs of birds

and chirps of cicadas

music that no man can feign.

 

Lake Venado, unruffled…

serenely mirrors your soul

and the seemingly drop of tear, Lake Jordan

furtively glistens under the searing sun.

 

Even for a moment while up here…

on the summit

I become part of you

as my wary soul is soothed

by your enchanting Lake Agko.

 

But there’s more to these…

Things that I need to understand –

those behind the curtains of moss

and orchids that hang

from the limbs of century trees;

those beneath your soft carpet

of lichens and grass

that swallow our steps

as if to muffle whatever

sound they might make.

 

You are the ultimate answer desired

by those who long

for adventure and mystery;

and, it may take a long time

for you to be transformed

from a dream into reality…

 

The Agony of Mother Nature

The Agony of Mother Nature

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Her womb brought forth life of many sorts

On top of the list is man – wise, clever, shrewd

A creature so sharp, with ego that knows no bound

He, whose selfishness, lifted him up from the ground.

 

At the start, his simple desire brought him food

Also, skins and leaves to cover his bare fragile frame

Then, his carnal yearnings brought him abundant broods

Who later inhabited vast lands – plains, valleys and woods.

 

Man’s desire has no end, never satisfied, not a bit

He not only breached, what to others are sacred realms

Unmindful and blind to whatever will be the consequence –

He even dares to break Mother Nature’s idyllic, blissful silence.

 

Greed drove man to scalp mountains of their trapping –

Verdant and lush forests he fell by indiscriminate burning

Reverberating scream of his chainsaw fill nooks and crevices

That drowns panicky calls of birds and their desperate screeches.

 

Immaculate white and sandy beaches strewn with shells

Though, still practically fringing undiscovered islands and coves

They may no longer be what they are now, as found by those lucky

For their days are numbered just like the rest, now drowned in misery.

 

Islands pockmarked with diggings for much-coveted minerals

Pitifully belch residues to rivers, lakes, coves even gurgling springs

While man grins his widest for the cash, illicitly and cruelly-gained

Mother Nature just cringes in agony, abused, that for long she’ll pain.

 

The air that man breaths for whiffs of comfort, relief and dear life –

Now has become a mist of poison, the scourge of his irresponsibility

For bringing forth metallic contraptions belching toxin just everywhere

And even break auditory succor, shaking the world with so much clatter.

 

With Mother Nature in agony –

man is left…alone,

to determine his destiny!

The Heavy Pollution in China should Warn Third-World Countries

The Heavy Pollution in China

Should Warn Third -World Countries

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Manufacturing countries that clandestinely hate China have successfully inflicted a “slow death” on the awakened dragon of Asia. They have simply transferred the production aspect of their business in China because of her cheap labor and with it, the byproduct of high technology – the deadly pollution! They have been awfully successful, no question about that!

 

China today, is practically crawling due to the effect of heavy pollution while countries that own brands manufactured in China are basking under smog-free atmosphere. Every day, internet news carries warnings of the Chinese government to its citizens about the heavy pollution and photos are those of the Chinese citizens with face or surgical mask to lessen their inhalation of the dirty air. An enterprising European country is reportedly exporting fresh bottled air to China.

 

The phenomenon in China should serve as a warning to the third-world countries that are blinded by the prospect of living in comfort through high technology. China has practically flooded the world with products made in her homeland. Despite such show of opulence, she is far from being satisfied as her expansionistic desire is slowly creeping towards the rest of Asia and the African continent- with all their third world countries.

 

The governments of these countries would like their forests be uprooted and replaced with factories; would like their fields planted to rice, corn and other staple foods bulldozed to give way to resorts and first-class housing projects; would like their mountains to be drilled for minerals; would like their citizens to be introduced into the mean habits of squalid urban life; would like their centuries-old traditions and faith to be polluted with the immoralities of progress.

 

As the exploitation lasts only for as long as there are yet to be exploited, their “benefits” are likewise short-lived. When the factories and mining companies stop their exhaustive operations, they leave behind ghost towns and villages- with their rivers poisoned by chemicals and the once-fertile land exhausted of their nutrients making them not suitable even for the lowly grass. Their polluted culture gives rise to a new generation of prostitutes and indolent, and worst, with a twisted view on faith.

 

The high-technology must be one of the checks that God has imposed on earth to maintain the balance, aside from natural calamities such as typhoon, earthquake, diseases, and floods, as well as, man-made war. Without them, the world would have burst long time ago, due to overpopulation and inadequate sustenance. But, while these are divine penalties, caution should have been observed by man to at least delay and minimize their occurrence. Unfortunately, man is now reaping the fruits of his greed…at high speed!

 

In the Old Testament, when the God of Israelites wanted them punished for their misdeed, He used the heathen races or tribes to sow disaster upon them. Sometimes He used calamities such as diseases and famine-causing pestilence. The religions of the world are based either directly or indirectly on the Abrahamaic faith, except for some pockets of tribes in unexplored nooks of forests and islands. In a way, most peoples of the world are connected to the God of Israel. Are we now suffering from this divine penalty, mentioned in the Old Testament?

Ang Tao, Kalinisan, Pagkain, at Iba Pa

Ang Tao, Kalinisan, Pagkain, at Iba Pa

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Hindi maganda sa isang tao ang sobra-sobrang pagiging malinis, kaya makakita lang ng pagala-galang inosenteng ipis ay animo naholdap na kung magsisigaw. Hindi masama ang maging malinis sa paligid, lalo na sa tahanan at katawan. Dapat lang nating alalahanin na lahat ng bagay, mabuti man, ay may limitasyon, tulad ng pag-inom ng gamot at pagkain. Ang binabakuna sa katawan ng tao upang magkaroon ito ng panlaban sa virus na nagiging sanhi ng iba’t ibang uri ng sakit ay virus din, kaya ang unang epekto nito ay pagkakaroon ng lagnat hanggang “masanay” ang katawan sa pagkakaroon nito. Ibig sabihin, may mga mikrobyo ding napapakinabangan ng tao, kahit ang mga ito ay itinuturing na marumi at salot.

 

May isa akong kaibigan na sa sobrang kalinisan sa bahay ay palaging pinapansin ang nalulugas na buhok ng kanyang misis kaya tuwing magsusuklay ito ay sinusundan niya at pinupulot ang mga buhok na nalalaglag sa sahig. Isang beses sinabihan uli niya ang kanyang misis ng, “o, marami na namang buhok ang nalugas mula sa ulo mo”. Napuno na yata ang misis kaya sinagot niya ang mister ng, “mabuti…ipunin mo para maihalo sa scrambled eggs bukas!”. Pinayuhan ko ang kaibigan ko na hindi tinatanggap sa korte ang nalulugas na buhok ng asawa na kumakalat sa sahig bilang dahilan ng annulment ng kasal, nang minsang humingi siya sa akin ng payo. Sa halip ay sinabihan ko siyang kumbinsihin ang asawang magpakalbo upang maibili niya ng maraming wig na iba’t iba ang pagkaayos at kulay para umayon sa kanyang mood! Hindi ko na nakita ang kaibigan ko… sana hindi sinaksak ng misis!

 

May mag-asawa naman akong kilala na dati ay bugnutin pero hinayaan ko na lang dahil parehong mahigit 70 na ang edad. Pero nang makita ko uli ay sila pa ang unang bumati sa akin. Nang tanungin ko kung ano ang pagbabago sa buhay nila, ang sabi nila, “hindi na kami madalas maglinis ng bahay”. Noon kasi habang naglilinis sila ng bahay ay minumura nila ang alikabok, at maghapon silang nakasimangot lalo pa at nakikita nila ang pagkakalat ng dalawang apo. Nadiskubre din nila na mula noong hindi na sila madalas maglinis, tuwing umaga ay may dalawa hanggang tatlong ipis silang nakikita na nagkikisay. Sabi ko sa kanila ay malamang na-“suffocate” o nalason ng naipong alikabok sa sahig ang mga ipis na ginagapangan nila. Dagdag- paliwanag ko pa ay, kaya siguro mas gustong manirahan ng ipis sa cabinet at mga sulok ay dahil wala halos alikabok sa mga ito. Bilang payo, sinabihan ko silang mag-ball room dancing na rin.

 

Maraming ospital na hi-tech ang naglilipana ngayon saan mang panig ng mundo, kasama na diyan ang Pilipinas at nagpapataasan pa ng singil. Dahil sa kamahalan ng kanilang singil, ang nakakakaya lang magpa-admit ay mayayaman, na ang kadalasang sakit ay sa puso, kanser at iba pang sakit na pangmayaman.  Subali’t hindi maipagkakaila na ang mga sakit na nabanggit ay nakukuha rin sa mga “maruming pagkain”. Ito yong mga pagkaing ipinagbawal na nga ng doctor ay patuloy pa ring kinakain. Alam na ng lahat kung ano ang mga “maruming” pagkain kaya kalabisan na kung babanggitin ko pa. Upang pabalik-balik sa mga doktor ang mga pasyente, siyempre dahil sa kikitain mula sa mahal na konsultasyon, sinasabihan na lang nila ang mga ito na kumain ng mga dapat ay bawal na pagkain “in moderation”, o hinay-hinay, o paunti-unti. Obviously, ay upang hindi bigla ang pag-goodbye sa mundo….at tulad ng nabanggit na, tuloy pa rin ang mahal na konsultasyon!

 

Ang industriya sa paggawa ng mga pagkaing dapat ay “moderate” lang daw kung kainin ay tuloy sa paglago at pagkita ng limpak-limpak upang  masupurtahan naman ang gobyerno sa pamamagitan ng buwis na binabayad nila. Ang ilang mababanggit na produkto ay processed foods na may salitre o preservative, maraming asin, food coloring, na tulad ng hot dog, corned beef,  bacon, ham, smoked fish, at mga inuming may kulay at artipisyal na lasa.

 

Sa puntong ito, gustong ipakita ng mga Tsino na nangunguna sila sa lahat ng bagay kaya pati ang paggawa ng nakalalasong artificial na bigas, sotanghon, alak, at pati ang itinanim na ngang bawang ay inaabunuhan din ng isang uri ng fertilizer na nakakalason sa tao, upang maging “matibay” at hindi mabulok agad sa imbakan. Ang masama lang, artificial at nilason na nga ang mga pagkain ay nakikipagsabwatan pa ang mga Tsino sa mga walang puso at konsiyensiyang mangangalakal sa Pilipinas upang maipuslit ang mga ito kaya hindi napapatawan ng karampatang buwis. Kung sa bagay, paano nga namang maipapadaan sa legal na proseso ang mga produktong bawal?  Maliban lang siyempre…. kung palulusutin naman ng mga buwaya at buwitre sa Customs!

 

Ang legal namang buwis na nalilikom ay ginagamit ng gobyerno sa mga proyektong kailangan ng bansa at mga mamamayan sa pangkalahatan. Kaya masasabing may pakinabang din pala ang paggawa ng pagkaing unti-unting pumapatay sa tao…. isang paraan nga lang ng pagsi-self annihilate o pagpapakamatay…. upang makontrol ang paglobo ng populasyon…na ang ibang paraan ay giyera, kalamidad tulad ng bagyo, baha, lindol, at matinding tag-tuyot!

 

Kung hindi dahil sa nabanggit na mga paraan, baka pati sa tuktok ng mga bulkan ay may mga condominium at subdivision dahil sa dami ng mga taong aabutin ng mahigit 100 taong gulang bago mamatay…at  baka biglang mawala ang wildlife na magiging delicacy na rin dahil sa kakulangan ng pagkain…at baka magiging bahagi na rin ng pagkain ng tao ang minatamis na mga dahon at balat ng kahoy!

 

Sa Tsina ay delicacy ang talampakan ng oso o bear. Sana ang magagaling na Tsinong chef ay makadiskubre ng masasarap na recipe para sa buwaya, buwitre, at hunyango…marami kasi nito sa Pilipinas para mapandagdag sa pagkain ng mga Pilipinong nagugutom dahil ninanakaw ng mga walang kaluluwa ang pera ng bayan!

 

Creation Care, Ecological Justice and Ethics by Patriarch Bartholomew

It is seldom that an Ecumenical Patriarch is given exposure for his views. During the recent visit of Patriach Bartolomew in Manila, he delivered a speech in which he shared his seldom-heard views about the most important issue – ecology, correlating it to man’s obligation for the sake of self-preservation. Though simply stated, his message is full of inspiration:

Reflections by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Forum held at the National Museum in Manila

CREATION CARE, ECOLOGICAL JUSTICE AND ETHICS

“Toward COP 21: Civil Society Mobilized for the Climate”
(February 26, 2015)

Distinguished forum participants,
Many of you may be surprised that a religious leader concerned with “spiritual” values is accompanying a political leader involved with “secular” issues. After all, what does preserving the planet have to do with saving the soul? It is widely assumed that climate change and the exploitation of natural resources are matters concerning scientists, technocrats and politicians.
Yet, the preoccupation of the highest spiritual authority in the worldwide Orthodox Church, namely the Ecumenical Patriarchate, with the ecological crisis demonstrates that we cannot have two ways of looking at the world: religious on the one hand and worldly on the other. We cannot separate our concern for human dignity, human rights or social justice from concern for ecological preservation and sustainability. These concerns are forged together, an intertwining spiral that can descend or ascend. If we value each individual made in the image of God, and if we value every particle of God’s creation, then we will care for each other and our world. In religious terms, the way we relate to nature directly reflects the way we relate to God and to our fellow human beings, as well as the way we relate to the biodiversity of creation.
At stake is not just our respect for biodiversity, but our very survival. Scientists calculate that those most harmed by global warming in the future will be the most vulnerable and marginalized. It is those living in the typhoon-prone Philippines who are being forced not only to deal with the miseries of flooded homes and prolonged disruption, but to make fundamental changes in their way of life. And there is a particularly bitter injustice about the fact that those suffering its worst ravages have done least to contribute to it. The ecological crisis is directly related to the ethical challenge of eliminating poverty and advocating human rights. Food security was the foremost issue at the United Nations climate change discussions in Geneva this month.
We are convinced that Asia holds many of the answers to a more biocentric worldview; Western industrialized nations must be humble to listen and learn. Only a few days ago, in India, the world’s public health leaders concluded that fossil fuels are detrimental to human health and wellbeing. And the Philippines – already a leader in geothermal and hydropower – are committed to a path from low carbon to zero carbon in a partnership between the public and private sectors.
This means that global warming is a moral crisis and a moral challenge. The dignity and rights of human beings are intimately and integrally related to the poetry and – we would dare to say – the rights of the earth itself. Human rights in the West have long been criticized for individualism. So will we recognize the faces of the thousands – men and women, mothers and children, elderly and disabled – lost when Typhoon Yolanda hit Guian at 4.40am on November 8th, 2013? On that day, by providence or serendipity, our church celebrates the feast of the holy angels. Will we remember the haunting photographs of that nightmare? The number of deaths horrifies us – but what most painfully reaches our feelings is the individual faces of loss and terror.
And what about the rights of the earth – of which we are a part and apart from which we cannot exist? Who will speak for the voiceless resources of our planet? Who will protect the silent diversity of its species? Will we accept responsibility for pushing our environment over the tipping-point?
In the discussions about climate change, some take a fatalistic attitude, arguing that we should give up all efforts to prevent further changes and instead direct our efforts towards adapting to the inevitable. But the response from those experiencing the effect of climate change is clear: adaptation is not enough. Fundamental changes need to be made at the level of global policy making, and made as a matter of urgency.
Wealthy, industrialized countries have unquestionably contributed most to atmospheric pollution. In our effort, then, to contain and reverse global warming, we must honestly ask ourselves: Will we in the West, in more affluent countries, sacrifice our self-indulgence and consumerism? Will we direct our focus away from what we want to what the rest of the world needs? Among all the facts and statistics, the summits and debates, it is essential for us to remember the human faces of those who suffer because of climate instability. Will we recognize and assume our responsibility to leave a lighter footprint on this planet for them and for the sake of future generations? We must choose to care; otherwise, we do not really care at all about the creator or the creation.
The choice is ours! We stand at a critical moment in the history and future of our planet, a time when our human family must choose future of our earth community. The protection of our planet’s vitality and diversity is a sacred task and a common vocation. At a summit organized by our Church two years ago, former NASA climate scientist Professor James Hansen observed: “Our parents honestly did not know that their actions could harm future generations. But we, our current generation, can only pretend that we did not know.”
It is not too late to act, but we cannot afford to wait; we certainly cannot afford not to act at all. We all agree on the necessity to protect our planet’s natural resources, which are neither limitless nor negotiable. We are all in this together: people of faith must practice what they preach; citizens of the world must clearly voice their opinion; and political leaders must act urgently and decisively.
Dear friends, you will now appreciate why a religious leader is concerned with the ecological crisis. With the voices of those angels who died in Typhoon Yolanda echoing in our ears, we must make the strongest possible call for change and justice at the Climate Conference in Paris next December. This is our ethical and honorable obligation; this is our word of promise and hope to the entire world.