Forest Faces - Hopes and Regrets in Philippine Forestry


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Forest Faces

Hopes and Regrets in Philippine Forestry

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC)


Published in: Education, Technology, Business
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Forest Faces - Hopes and Regrets in Philippine Forestry

  1. 1. viii Forest Faces
  2. 2. DANTE SINHAYAN LumadD ante Sinhayan is a 34-year old emerging tribal leader in the uplands of Bukidnon in Mindanao, married,with a two-year old daughter. The interview is interestingin that Dante narrated his story echoing the traditionalform of a datu introducing himself as he entered a village,“tungkod” or staff in hand. Starting with his parents, everyevent in his life was well-accounted for in his memory. Forests as Lumad identity“My father is from Kalabugaw and my mother is fromBulunay and when they got married they settled inKalabugaw, where I was born in 1973. My father was afarmer. We moved to Bulunay when I was still young, whereI grew up and went to school from Grade 1 to 3. I wentback to Kalabugaw to continue my elementary schoolingfrom Grade 4 to 6. Nobody could support me in highschool, so I searched for a sponsor. I went to Kabanglasanand met Father Leoni, who sponsored me up to my thirdyear in college when he died. Father Matt took over untilI finished college. Upon my graduation, I went back to myvillage.”“There I saw the many changes in the forest. There werea lot of denuded areas, and we were still gathering manyof the forest products we were using: rattan, medicines,timber for housing, and timber that we were selling tothe Dumagat. The hunting grounds of my parents, mygrandparents changed. Nobody told me why these forest
  3. 3. changes took place that I was seeing, but I heard from the elders as I listened to them as they discussed. The changes in the forest of my village were significantly caused by the entry of logging.” “For the people and for myself, logging clearly caused the destruction. But the impact did not register in our minds, the importance of what was destroyed was not established. There were no efforts to revive the forest, especially the ritual areas, the hunting grounds, the sacred places. In Bulunay, the Pugawan ritual area was totally removed and bulldozed. I am also seeing the scarcity of the resources that we collect in the forest. Seldom do I see now people carrying forest-based food.” “Our aspirations to continue caring for “Then the Baptist preachers came who told us that participating in ritual acts was evil. I wasForest Faces Forests as Lumad identity the forest must not be lost, for as Lumad, baptized a Baptist and this was the dominant religion in our area. I was taught that rituals once the forest is gone, so will our being a Lumad go as well.” are not good and I turned away from my traditional beliefs. But now I realize I should not have abandoned the ritual areas, because these are the sacred places where we can care for the forest continuously. And if the forest is gone, where will we do our rituals, in the middle of the road? We do our rituals in the water, but water comes from the forest! This is what I see at the moment that is also the future.” “But people did not think about reconstructing what was damaged. We are letting the forest go and saying to ourselves it is already damaged anyway. We go back and revisit the forest to12
  4. 4. process or cut trees and establish farms, not to revive the ritual areas and sacred places that ournext generation could see. This is not discussed in my village.”“The entry of logging and the bulldozing of farms discouraged us and contributed to people “Without the forest, I feel different in the citycaring less. Our adupahan was bulldozed and the owners did not resist or ask for payments, as seeing big buildings. It is too hot. In the forest,no negotiations took place. Owners were employed by the logging companies as workers and it is cool and I hear the sounds of different birds. The changes make me reflect and mixes me uphelped in the bulldozing. People did not go back to caring for the village, the sacred places, in how I think. It is natural that a Lumad cannotand the forest so that more food could be gathered in the future. In short, nobody cared!” survive in the city. Thus, being a Lumad in itself is a great challenge as it also means taking care“As a grown-up, I am saddened by what took place. And as time has passed, there are groups of the forest.”entering Bulunay who are slowly awakening my village. Watershed management is a phrasewe now hear, and the lowlanders are slowly sowing, starting, reinstating in us the feeling of theforest’s importance. The forest gets discussed and the watershed; how important is the forest,what is this watershed. Thus, care for the forest is growing again, slowly.”“I talked with a member of our village council and the entry of this program is allowing peopleto care again for the forest. And indeed it is true that this care is growing slowly in people’sminds and hearts. My hope is that this continues and will not stop when these outsiders leave.Our aspirations to continue caring for the forest must not be lost, for as Lumad, once theforest is gone, so will our being a Lumad go as well. We can still be proud of being a Lumad,but the forest is one of our real identities. The forests differentiate what we feel when we arein the city. If the forest is gone, we lose what we call as Lumad. We may still be Lumad, but inrituals only. How do we live? This is discouraging for us.”“If we care less for the forest, we will not live without the forest. I cannot live without theforest. Without the forest, I feel different in the city seeing big buildings. It is too hot. Inthe forest, it is cool and I hear the sounds of different birds. The changes make me reflect andmixes me up in how I think. It is natural that a Lumad cannot survive in the city. Thus, being Forest Faces Forests as Lumad identitya Lumad in itself is a great challenge as it also means taking care of the forest.”“One time I went to the city port to fetch someone who was arriving, and there were Badjaokids in the water near the docking area, begging for money from passengers and other visitors.(The Badjao culture is sea-based and they live in the poorest region in the country. Many ofthem migrate to different areas in the country.) Coins were thrown at them and they dive inthe water to get the coins. I threw one peso and the kids replied that it was too small! I wassurprised that the kids were not Badjao and they came from Claveria, in the uplands near my 13
  5. 5. place. I asked them why they are in the city. One of the kids told me that it was difficult in their place, things will not grow, crops will not grow without fertilizer, and they do not have fertilizer. He told me it is better in the city as money is easy. He told me they were many before, but some went home as they cannot cope. Some are able to adapt, but most are unable to sustain themselves.” “This is why I realized that if the Lumad is put in the city, they can live for some time, but they will not survive for long and will return to their origin. But where will they return if the forest is gone, the land is gone? The identity of the Lumad as a person is tied to what we call ancestral domain. The forest marks our ancestral domain and ensures that Lumad who went to the city has a place to return. Ancestral domain also ensures forest protection, and if the forest vanishes, then what the Lumad keeps talking about as ancestral domain also vanishes. There may be something left over, but it is not the same, if people understand what is called ancestral domain. Even if food is scarce, the forest brings one to reflect and connect as a Lumad. If I were not a Lumad, my appreciation of the forest will be limited. The lowland appreciation of the splendor of the Lumad needs to be defined well, explained well. What I expressed is the Lumad’s appreciation, view, and experience of the goodness of the forest as their life. If the forest is lost, the more the Lumad is lost.” “The importance of water is also inseparable to the Lumad and ancestral domain discussions. Everyday, every minute, we use water and with it, we discuss forest, although not often. By discussing how water emerges, then the forest gets discussed. Then the wholeForest Faces Forests as Lumad identity area gets discussed, how to care, how good it is, and what if we lose this? In the city, they can buy water, but the Lumad cannot.” “The Lumad’s life is the forest, and we are in the frontline in caring for the forest and the resources therein. If it gets destroyed, the Lumad gets affected first. If the forest is eroded, the water is polluted, and the Lumad will be affected first before the lowlanders. And often we cannot defend and prevent the difficulties that will14
  6. 6. be experienced. Severe landslides also damage the water, and wehave minimal skills in seeking assistance down the valley. We mayget re-settled in another village, which will cause another problemas we will be claiming land which will not be ours.”“On a number of occasions, I gave inputs in the school for thechildren, particularly the Lumad, on the different ways to take careof the forest and that these ought to start with us. The Lumad canalways go down the valley, but we will not survive. I related thestory of the Lumad who tried selling bread, but who returned aftera few months because he cannot survive.”“I will continue relating this care of the forest with my work andtalk with the community, the children, the Tribal Council. Iexpress, during these meetings, that caring for the forest is not agame and is not based on apprehensions and assumptions. Forestcare is based on real events for us, the Lumad, because if we will notsettle in the forest, we will not survive. Taking care of the forestleads to good things for people. Sometimes the topics discussedlack focus, but these still need to be discussed. We discuss sacredplaces, timber extraction, and these realities need to be passed onto the elders and to the children.”“Everyone is challenged to care for whatever we have now, aswhatever destruction takes place in the forest, the Lumad will bemost affected. But the Lumad does not have the knowledge torespond to these damaging events where we do not care for theforest and will be damaging our lives. So that’s it!” Forest Faces Forests as Lumad identity 15
  7. 7. Traveling in the forest, there is much sadness that government cannot reach the poor for basic services and in these places too are often insurgents who are part of the faceless poor and the violence they get caught in. In seeking to interview them along the same path and time, a tribal leader was murdered, killed in a sacred place of traditional ritual in front of his children and grandchildren, who then with all their relatives had to leave and find subsistence elsewhere. This is but another untold story of the forest, scenes and faces washed over. Traditional ritual place of the Lumads of BendumForest Faces16
  8. 8. AMAY GANGGA or MAN GANGGA (aka BERNABE AMPOHON) Tribal LeaderO n the morning of 16 May 2007, Amay Gangga was shot and died amongst some of his children and grandchildren, by The loss of cultural identitysomeone who joined in the traveling group. He was crossing at thejunction of the Pinamangkulan-Pulangi Rivers, a sacred site of hispeople. Amay Gangga was around 70 years old and a member of theBendum Tribal Council representing the Ampohon family group.The Ampohon family is the most organized family group inBendum, attributed mainly to Amay Gangga’s ability to mobilizehis family. Amay Gangga was a source of traditional knowledge andone of the few elders who could do the saut (war dance). He wasthe community’s ritualist. He was a typical traditional Pulangiyenwho kept moving during cropping periods. The Ampohon familygroup participates actively in community activities and readilypresent during pahina (communal labor).In his younger years, he lived around the Tigpaniki River withhis parents, and when he got married, he moved to BarangayCaburacanan. When he had a family, he moved to Maasam, andafter some time moved to Mahan-aw back in Pulangi. When oneof his daughters got married in Bendum, the whole family movedto Bendum.
  9. 9. The death of the elder affected his family group and the entire community. Amay Gangga’s death created tension amongst the aggrieved family and other members of the community, as there were suspicions that the incident was triggered by an internal conflict in the community and external arms. Feeling abandoned by the community, the entire Ampohon family group moved out of Bendum, family members separated and settled in different places where they now have to struggle for acceptance and to belong in each of the new communities and groups. This loss of a highly respected elder and his entire family’s departure at the same time cannot be viewed simply as a homicide and outmigration case. The motivations and reasons that brought this tragedy upon the community are complex and perhaps there are many versions of the truth of what happened. But a life has been stilled and the grief of the Ampohon family Amay Gangga performs a traditional ritual in a community activity will perhaps remain inconsolable for a long time. Seeking justice will be difficult, especially when the entire family of generations is fragmented and are themselves seeking new homes and communities. Amay Gangga was a source of traditional knowledge and one of the few elders who can do the saut (war dance). He was the community’s ritualist.Forest Faces The loss of cultural identity18
  10. 10. ED CORONEL and PAUL AZARCON Mining Industry ProfessionalsMining and forests in 20 Years E d Coronel and Paul Azarcon are two professionals who are carving out their careers in the Philippine mining industry. Ed has a commerce and accounting background specializing in development management, and is increasingly drawn to community relations and development in host mining communities. Paul is a geologist and presently works with one of the mining companies doing exploration activities in the country. Their stories on forests draw parallels as they both acknowledge the urgent need to respond to the social realities in forest communities, mainly typified by the extent of poverty and lack of basic social services. They are familiar with government-implemented programs on community forest management, as they go around these areas in the course of their work in mining. Ironically, they realize the similarity of speculative behavior in mining and in forests (whether community- or corporate-managed). They are also very well aware of the various perspectives and discussions on mining and actively participate when invited.
  11. 11. Ed grew up in Cuenca town in Batangas, a province south of Manila, and wherehe recalls viewing Mount Maculot every day through a large window in theirhouse. He remembers seeing Taal Lake (a popular tourist attraction with TaalVolcano in the middle) from Cuenca on the ridge overlooking the lake.At 15, he climbed halfway up Mount Maculot and three years later, heconquered his fears and found his way to the deeper forest and its ravines.In there, he experienced a personal connection with the place and its thicklyvegetated forest.Later, opportunities allowed him visit Mindanao and the Visayas where hesaw other mountains and forests. But while mountains and forests are touristattractions, he concedes that there is also the image of forests under siege due topoverty, the onslaught of heavy equipment, and increasing poor communitiesliving in these areas.In 1994, he visited Germany and saw its forests and plantations and wasimpressed by how this was made possible in an industrialized country. A workshop facilitated by ESSC in which Ed Coronel participated to better understand the prevailing conditions in Real and how best to respond to the needs of communities and local governmentBy the time the Philippines passed the Mining Act I 1995, Ed got involvedwith the major mining companies that undertook exploration activities and hisresponsibility for community relations allowed him to engage with communitiesand local governments that host areas involving mineral exploration anddevelopment.In Tampakan, South Cotabato in Mindanao, he thought it was helpful that thecompany did an inventory of the flora and fauna in the area. In Zamboanga, he Forest Faces Mining and forests in 20 Years “I am tormented by forests. I hold aworked with the company to establish how people will still benefit from the romantic view of forests, but at the samearea when the mining is over. The strategy was in developing upland agriculture time also a pragmatic view, that forestsand planting upland rice, although he has to understand better the real benefits are a collateral damage to progress, justthese will bring, as it appeared that people were not ready. like other things in society.” Ed CoronelIn some corner of his mind, he holds the view that it might be in some waysbetter that a mining company cuts through the forests than the kaingineros(slash-and-burn farmers), as companies will have access to better technologythat clears the area more efficiently. 41
  12. 12. Ed also shared that mining and forests are best analyzed through the lens of governance. From an incentives’ point of view, politics and governance constitute the greater stakes in mining activities. The politics will illustrate the exercise of authority and the compliance with pronounced commitments, while the governance will illustrate whether rewards and sanctions are operative, due diligence is complied with, and if erring companies are getting away with violations. As someone who is part of the “soft end” of the mining industry, he struggles with the impact of mining on the environment and the communities and how the mitigating measures are addressing the impact. “I am tormented by forests. I hold a romantic view of forests, but at the same time also a pragmatic view, that forests are a collateral damage to progress, just like other things in society,” Ed admits. Paul grew up in Bayabas, Toril, Davao City, after his family migrated from Manila in 1969. His family had a farm at the foot of Mount Apo (the highest mountain in the country at 3,000+ masl). His grandfather, who used to be a government official after the Second World War, ran an abaca plantation, but there was no forest. As a young boy, Paul loved outdoor excursions and visited the beach often. His initial exposure to forests occurred while doing interior geology in the Agusan area in Mindanao within the secondary forest of a large timber Aerial view of Atlas Mines in Cebu concessionaire. He explored forest areas and recalls to have always related his experience with people living there. In what he refers to as his thenForest Faces Mining and forests in 20 Years “immature mind,” those commercial forests were the actual forests. In Samar (in eastern Visayas), he also explored forests mostly controlled by Both Paul and Ed agree that within 20 years, the Philippines will the New People’s Army (or NPA, the armed group fighting the Philippine have matured, the industry will have matured and become more government) and where he also saw what he refers to as the “poorest of the responsible in operations. . . It will be a slow maturity, with pressure coming from other companies driving the system of responsibility. poor.” With the log ban imposed in 1986-87, he saw how people, saddened The best practice is to show that it works. and deprived of their legal livelihoods, still continued cutting trees to survive.42
  13. 13. As he became involved with other mining companies, various experiencescome to mind. In the area outside the Subic zone (Zambales in Luzon),the political bickering in forest management projects was only a ruse toearn money for those in the decision-making positions. He also workedwith a company in Nueva Vizcaya whose forested areas survived, butmainly due to the guards that secured and controlled the area and werepaid for by the company. Part of the community development wherePaul took charge was the planting of trees, part of the compliancethat the company undertook, and without the participation of theCommunity-based Forest Management(CBFM) holders in the area.For Paul, forests are always related to the social side, the poverty side.The managed forests he has seen so far are not in CBFM areas. CBFMas a tenurial right means one can do anything with the area, even putup a rest house.The speculative behavior he associates with mining areas, he also seesin CBFM areas. “Do communities want to manage CBFMs, or dothey want quick money?”Paul asks. A major incentive is survival bycommunities, and if the forest area is the water source, then the valueof forests goes higher. But having a CBFM instrument or none makesno difference to those living inside forests.At a macro level, he views land-use planning and management asessential in specific forest area management. Poor people put pressureon the forests as well, as that is their only source of income, due to lackof other opportunities and coupled with the lack of basic social services Forest Faces Mining and forests in 20 Yearsfrom the government. Easing that pressure can come about through acomprehensive approach to land use planning, with CBFM rights orwithout. The speculative behavior Paul Azarcon associates with mining areas, he also sees in CBFM areas.Paul is also asking whether the CBFM and ISF (Integrated Social “Do communities want to manage CBFMs, or do they want quick money?”Forestry) programs have had successes in providing income forcommunities, but which may have put unnecessary pressure on forestsdue to poorly designed and poorly monitored resource managementframeworks. 43
  14. 14. At the micro level, what difference does it really make for poor Tampakan was purchased at US$4-$5 per share, and sold later at communities between these acronymed projects and forest US$9-$10 per share. Tracking the developments in the export- management projects of mining companies? There are reforestation import banks will be crucial. and other projects factored into a mineral development activity that are part of a mining company’s feasibility study. But will Paul sees that “mining will be re-inventing itself ” and that there all companies do it? Who does the monitoring, the Mines and will be added revenues from preserving, not cutting, trees as Geosciences Bureau (MGB) or the Forest Management Bureau? He carbon sinks and in focusing on income generating activities for thinks that the MGB should be more than capable of monitoring. communities in mining sites. Pollution control equipment and renewable energy options will be continuously explored to the Small-scale miners are another story altogether. Paul describes extent of “getting profit from trying green, not cheaper” options. them simply as ore collectors, and with no accountability and responsibility for the damage and impact wrought by their In the end, both Paul and Ed see the cumulative impact of mining activities. in 20 years as less than all the subdivisions being developed in Metro Manila. The process will build up slowly, at the same time Both Paul and Ed agree that within 20 years, the Philippines will shoring up confidence. have matured, the industry will have matured and become more responsible in operations. An area of improvement should focus on In terms of forests, regeneration and reforestation need to be the inclusion of China (which is currently a buyer, not an investor) seriously looked into and implemented as major elements in mining in the industry. rehabilitation plans. It will be a slow maturity, with pressure coming from other companies driving the system of responsibility. The best practice is to show that it works. The learning experience with Lafayette that operates on Rapu-rapu Island is that “nobody in the industry wants to be like a Lafayette” and lose substantial capital in the process. The small to medium companies that have small to medium risks will survive, as they will be more than able to navigate the regulatoryForest Faces Mining and forests in 20 Years waters. Both also share the view that major mine openings in the next 20 years will be limited as the Philippines is ranked very low as an unstable regime, with political and sovereign risks still very high. Even the Tampakan copper mine in Mindanao, generally viewed as a world-class mine, was sold earlier because of sovereign and political risks, and Ed and Paul do not see this mine opening soon, even with renewed and activated investment. In 1994 and 1995,44
  15. 15. RAP PUBLICATION 2008/04 FOREST FACES Hopes and regrets in Philippine forestryFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC)
  16. 16. The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of anyopinion on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations or the Regional CommunityForestry Training Center concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, orconcerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The perspectives, statements and conclusions expressed inthis publication are entirely those of the interviewees and should not be construed as representing official positions,policies or opinions of FAO.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted inany form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of thecopyright owner. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproductionshould be addressed to the Senior Forestry Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, 39 Phra Atit Road, Bangkok, Thailand.The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) leads internationalefforts to defeat hunger by helping countries improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practicesand ensuring good nutrition for all. FAO is also a leading source of knowledge and informationon agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equalsto negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO’s mission in forestry is to enhance human well-being through support to member countries in the sustainable management of the world’s treesand forests.The Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC) promotes environmental sustainability,social justice and human development through the integration of scientific research andmethodologies in social and cultural processes seeking appropriate governance and managementof the environment. ESSC’s work supports many facets of development efforts by contributing toa critical and holistic understanding of the dynamic relationship between biophysical and socio-cultural processes in collaboration with various partners in resource management.Photos: Peter Walpole unless otherwise indicatedFor copies of the publication, write to:Patrick B. Durst Peter WalpoleSenior Forestry Officer Executive DirectorFAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific Environmental Science for Social Change39 Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand 1/F Manila Observatory Building, Ateneo de Manila UniversityTel: (66-2) 697 4000 Fax: (66-2) 697 4445 Loyola Heights, Quezon City, 1108, PhilippinesEmail: Patrick. Tel: (63-2) 426 5921 Fax: (63-2) 426 5958 Email: 2008ISBN 978-974-06-1213-1