Growing up in a small town surrounded by mountains and rivers, I was literally living in a green natural habitat. The hills were my play grounds; the rivers, my swimming pool.
Sugpon, circa 2007
Sugpon is the southeastern most town of the province of Ilocos Sur. One of the tiniest in terms of population, could be the biggest considering the total land area. It is the exit point of mountaineers who trek the ranges of Kibungan, Benguet. Electric posts rose along the streets in 1990, CNN and HBO came available on the chanel list 10 years later. Everyone knows everybody.
Before I could have done such a silly act, I'm grateful that I got educated early on. This must be one of the reasons why destiny didn't allow me to withdraw from my quest of becoming an architect (I'm still working on that, BTW) before. Sustainable design and green architecture, which were hot topics with most of our architectural subjects back in school, have affected me and my views not only when designing but about the "paving" which I was so into as a kid, owing to my ignorance.
Now, I hate to see mountains getting excavated. I hope that the people like those behind the development of Cherryhills will put an end to their, destroy the environment-put risks to many lives-money making projects. I wish all developments that involves flatting of mountains and cutting trees will be stopped. I wish no one's buying illegal animal products.
I wish they'll replace the concrete pine tree in Baguio with a genuine one, tomorrow.
That was our only chance. Yes, civilization here we come!
In my young and ambitious mind, I was enraged when I learned that they turned it down. It turns out a group of fishermen and farmers raised questions: How is this going to affect our river? Are you sure it wouldn't get polluted? What will happen to the fishes? Would our children still be able to enjoy swimming without getting sick?
Many years later, I have come to realize that the decision made at that time which I thought was stupid, is actually a proud moment for the people of Sugpon!
And for the rest of us who have had the chance to achieve some levels of education, we should learn a thing or two from our farmers and fishermen! They stood up and asked questions. They were not blinded by the promise of potential stable jobs and progress in exchange of something that our folks have considered precious. Instead, they decided to protect our river! The river where we fish, where we swim, where we eat and celebrate - things that we do, until today.
I could imagine Datu Binas-o watching and smiling with pride!
The dam was constructed though, at the neighboring town. Today they're enjoying the short term effect, leaving us quite envious. Thinking about what could happen in the future, I'm still feeling better for ourselves. If an offer shall be made again, I'd be the first one to go out in the streets with banners in protest. You'll see me on TV. No way that a dam will be built and destroy my pool, not in our territory.