THE GREAT mountaineer, Sir Edmund Hillary, strikes me as a wonderful person to emulate. First, he was humble and honest. He also tread softly as far as the environment was concerned, conducting cleaning operations on waste left by other trekkers on the slopes of Mt. Everest and other mountains. But what strikes one was his unfettered love for the native Nepalese communities from where the famous Sherpas come. He didn't have to, but he kept returning and then formed a foundation which sought to improve the life and lot of those sturdy mountain folk. That is why his quiet way of doing things, never trumpeting his achievements or even his charity work, leaves a wonderful image of the man. Contrast Sir Edmund’s unassuming and quiet ways with those who need to trumpet the least of their achievements. Back then in our civic organization days, we had a name for such people and projects. We called them photo-op projects. After much posing, possibly with high officials of the land in tow, the project would often be left to fend for itself. Sir Edmund's foundation work, on the other hand, was a quiet and continuing effort, which explains why he is lionized by both the Nepalese and his own Kiwi community.
January 2008 Archives
I. BORACAY is suffering from over-development, exacerbated by the free-wheeling granting of construction permits by the local government there. In recent articles coming out in the press, both the DENR and the DOT have pointed their fingers at the local municipality as the main culprit. The DENR and DOT have finally put their collective feet down (finally!) and have called for a moratorium on new construction, but only for six months. II. An effort to police their own ranks is being heralded by the Boracay Chamber of Commerce headed by a good friend and classmate, Charlie Uy, proprietor of the award-winning Patio Pacific resort. They put up a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) with the help of a P2-M grant from the Canadian government agency CIDA and a counterpart P2M from the chamber members. This facility is a positive step towards the solution of the garbage problem in paradise. Charlie Uy says it now earns about P40M a day. III. In a recent visit made by my AIM â€™73 class which celebrated its 35th anniversary, I noticed the continued encroachment by various establishments along the treeline. In fact, the original area around Boat Station 1 is probably hopeless since most establishments are practically on the beach itself, and the road straddles the area right behind. IV. The vaunted drainage system being put in place is going nowhere since no one wants the outflow beside his establishment. Thus, over P100M has been spent with no visible results except severe flooding every time it rains. And why not, since the rainwater has no natural outflow courses to follow leading to the sea! V. The airport facility in Caticlan is probably best described as horrendous. Especially with the number of planes and tourists going in and out of the place. Perhaps the DOTC or DOT-PTA could lend a hand instead of pointing fingers at one another? VI. The proposed Master Plan is decades late. But it may as well start now, and hope that the paradise that one expects of Boracay will not become a paradise lost. (With apologies to Milton)
JUST got back from Boracay where my Asian Institute of Management (AIM) class that graduated in 1973 got together for its 35th anniversary reunion. The reunion included some overseas members of our class and spouses of many of the members. While my classmates were enjoying the white beach and sparkling water, not to mention the many amenities our hotel had to offer, I spent some time observing the pace of development in the island and what this would portend in terms of the pristine nature of the place. Before leaving, I got in touch with a classmate from my La Salle days, Charlie Uy, owner of Patio Pacific resort in Boracay (winner of many awards, based on the citations I saw in the main office) to get a feel of the latest on the island. Charlie has another persona as president of the local Boracay Chamber of Commerce -- affiliated with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. -- and who has a genuine affection and caring attitude for the proper development of the island. He cited a private sector-led effort to put up a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) with a CIDA grant of P2M and a counterpart P2M that local businessmen put up. The MRF is an initial stab at getting rid of the stinking garbage problem of the island, but it must be augmented somehow. On the other hand, the government has managed to throw over P200M into a drainage project that seems to be going nowhere. In fact, it rained briefly in the morning on the second day of our stay there and the roads and byways promptly got flooded. The small airport facility is a joke, and if it were not for the anticipation of the island's beaches or thankfulness for having been able to enjoy oneself, is a mini-nightmare especially to departing passengers. Surely, some bright government functionary whose agency is tasked with development of tourism infrastructure should get off his sorry ass and do something about this, because the private sector can't carry the burden for this project! I know which GOCC is concerned because I headed it once when President Cory came into office. Stop sitting on that cash hoard please and do something for a shining jewel that has contributed much to both foreign and domestic tourism! Finally, the local municipal council heeded the admonitions it has been getting from the natural resources department and has imposed a moratorium on new construction. Really, there must be an effort to make sure that the island does not become overdeveloped given its fragile ecosystem and lack of resources such as water and electricity. Not to mention a larger waste disposal facility for human and wet waste for the entire island, other than that private sector-led effort by the local Chamber of Commerce with its MRF.
A FORMER associate of mine once asked if I could help source white sand which would be exported to a foreign country in substantial quantities. I simply said that, given my penchant for preserving the environment, it would be anathema to dig up our pristine shorelines just to please the construction or landscaping needs of some foreign country. First of all, those white sandy beaches that our tourism officials are so ga-ga about take eons to produce. Wave action on coral formations and minute crustaceans help produce some of that whiteness that sun worshippers like so much. Frankly, I prefer a cove with some coral formations which would make for interesting beachcombing and exploration when the tide goes out. It is interesting to note, however, that other types of sand attract tourists too. For example, the black sand one finds in the beaches of La Union are that way because of huge magnetite deposits -- which contain iron particles. I was wondering why the foreign visitors were attracted to this particular black beach sand and found that they believe the sand to have certain medicinal or healing properties. Especially for geriatrics with problems like arthritis. Interesting! It seems a crime, therefore, to abet any move to extract such pristine resources as beach sand merely to satisfy a consumer need. They benefit but we suffer in the long run. In the mid-80s, some sneaky people resorted to extracting and hauling out the white sand of both Boracay and the shores of Bohol. When I learned of this in my capacity as OIC-GM of the Philippine Tourism Authority, I immediately raised the alarm and asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines to increase patrols in the two areas. The awareness worked because the illegal extraction work stopped. Just think of what Bora would look like today if these selfish cretins succeeded in hauling the pure white sand of that choice destination away!
BELIEVE it or not, there was a serious article precisely on this topic, and I found the premises and conclusions interesting. First, consider that a nuclear family usually resides in a single home unit, and only branches out as children grow and begin families of their own. These family homes consume a given amount of electricity, generate a certain amount of heat and contribute a given amount of carbon into the atmosphere. They will need to consume a certain amount of resources to survive and be useful citizens. The article then takes a look at what happens to families that have divorced or separated parents. Usually, in these cases, we find the beginning of two family home units, with the separated spouses living apart in different houses. The problem, therefore, is that these two separate households tend to consume just a bit more in terms of resources, and generate a larger collective carbon footprint. Ergo, divorced or separated families tend to contribute more towards global warming! This hypothesis should probably be received warmly by the pro-life and pro-family movements, if not the pro-environment forces out there. Which would probably cause a groan of anguish among those who believe that the right to choose is paramount. At any rate, I present this and leave it to each of you to draw your own conclusions.