|Atis or sweetsop is a popular fruit that's usually available during the summer (dry season).|
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Friday, April 18, 2014
Saturday, March 3, 2012
|Who can resist such tempting hammocks along the beach?|
|Footprints in the sand?|
|Early morning tides bring sea weed to the beach|
|The powdery white sands of Panglao rival Boracay's (perhaps the most popular island in the Philippines)|
|Be sure to bring your goggles if you want to explore further away from the beach|
|It's the perfect place for an escape from the urban jungle|
|Leave your worries behind and take a dip in the pristine waters off Panglao Island|
|Alona Beach in the late afternoon can be quite busy as several resorts and inns share the stretch. Rates are quite inexpensive, translating to a lot of visitors who would probably prefer to shell out more for their dives.|
|Boats anchored off Alona Beach|
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
News about the garbage in Baguio City and the slide that caused the death of many in that city brought back memories of my last visit. That was back in June 2009 when we were conducting consultation workshops for the formulation of the national environmentally sustainable transport strategy. We stayed and held the workshop at a hotel that was a short walk away from the Good Shepherd Convent. The convent, of course, is famous for the strawberry jams and other delicacies bearing the convent’s name. Also nearby was the Mines View Park that used to give a breathtaking view of mountains covered with pine trees. Those among my older friends who were able to experience this many years ago attest to the pleasing scent of pine in the cool breeze that is also a characteristic of this city. Nowadays, the view is mainly of mountains covered with shanties and looking downwards you would have a good view of a lot of roofs and, surprise, even a couple of structures that look like graves! If you’re unlucky enough, you would be taking in the scent of smoke coming from something that is being burned nearby.
Another thing that caught my attention in 2009 was the uncollected garbage along the streets and in front of many houses and other buildings leading to the convent and the park. Residents explained to us that Baguio already had a garbage problem and that waste management and disposal has been an issue in the city for quite some time. Previous to this visit, I had the chance to go to the city a few other times, even staying there for almost week in 2004 when we were conducting another study. At that time, I was not aware of the garbage problem probably because the problem has not yet manifested itself as it did in 2009. It is sad that the city has done little to address such issues considering the many indications of impending (if not ongoing) disaster due to their waste. It is also disappointing to see their leaders pointing fingers at others but seemingly refusing to take responsibility for the tragedy of the garbage slide.
On the way up to Baguio, we usually take Kennon Road, which is usually my choice when riding our own vehicle, rather than the more common Marcos Highway. The latter is a relatively easier route that was constructed as a safer alternative to the two more traditional routes via Kennon or Naguilian Roads. I usually choose Kennon because the drive provides great vistas including those you can view from observations points along the road. During bad weather, however, Kennon and Naguilian can be treacherous with both being relatively narrow as compared to the newer and upgraded Marcos Highway. There are many incidences of rockslides or landslides that have often made these roads impassable. In fact, Kennon Road is usually only for light vehicles and can be challenging to those who are unfamiliar with its combination of curves and slopes. Naguilian is no longer a choice among travelers from Metro Manila as it starts further from both Kennon and Marcos. Buses and trucks commonly use Marcos Highway, which has slope protection along critical sections and even a roof along one that makes it look like a tunnel section. It is also easier to negotiate this highway for most motorists though there is one long climbing section just before you get off the highway that has caused many radiators to overheat or brakes and clutches to malfunction.
Hopefully, Baguio will learn from the harsh lessons brought about by the garbage slide and that city will be managed better. It is a pity that a city that was designed for 20 to 30 thousand people that is now home to more than 300,000 souls is deteriorating fast because its carrying capacity has been breached a long time ago. It will remain as the economic center of the region but urgent action is required to arrest its decline in primarily in terms of the environment. The summer capital of the Philippines as it is called is already in a depressing state and certainly deserves to be preserved if only because of the warmth the city has provided to many people who come to Baguio to experience life.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Today, I still get a bad feeling from looking at photos the Clairvoyant and I took during the rise and recession of flood waters. Then there were also photos showing our cars during the various stages of the flood. Deep inside, I still sense my own sadness for the loss of my car, which was the first big purchase for me not counting my contributions to our house in Cainta (the devastation there is much more hurtful considering memories lost and too difficult to recover).
I no longer depend on the forecasts of the local weather agency. In fact, right after the floods I was able to find a reliable source of information on weather including rainfall. The Weather Underground site provides up to date information that includes terrific visuals and forecasts of typhoon strengths and paths. It also provides daily and even hourly forecasts for weather conditions based on satellite data and info from local weather stations like Ateneo's Manila Observatory. It reminds me of the reliability of forecasts in Japan where the chance of rain and the estimated intensity has allowed me to plan ahead (umbrella? coat? water proof shoes?) when going outdoors for my commute or other trips.
Perhaps, after watching news features of cities having rescue units prepared for Ondoy-type typhoons, we should feel secure that there will be help or assistance ready in case of another similar situation. Cities and the national government claims to have spent a lot to build capabilities for dealing with the impacts of typhoons. However, what I am worried about is the inaction in dealing with the root of the problem of flooding. The root or roots after all are within all of us in social terms. We still continue to pollute our environment - filling up our waterways with garbage and other wastes. Esteros being transformed from their navigable state to something where we could practically walk on due to the density of flotsam. We still do very poorly on ensuring that the same waterways are freed from the constriction of squatters (I prefer to use the term for people settling in these areas rather than on idle lands) whose structures have effectively dammed critical rivers, streams and even floodways and have led to floods that were actually preventable.
Preventable, it is perhpas the mother of all key words when talking about disasters. Its one thing to mitigate impacts of disasters. It is another thing to prevent disasters from occurring. Earthquakes and typhoons are inevitable. They are not disasters per se. Disasters are what occurs due to years of neglect and indifference to the potential for disasters because of our actions and policies. Are we really prepared for another typhoon because we have trained rescue units or resources that can be tapped and deployed to mitigate impacts? Perhaps we should revisit preparedness by seeking out what can be done to prevent such disasters from happening in the first place. Then we won't have to rescue anyone, do we?
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Saturday, January 3, 2009
The results were tell-tale and indicative of how government has engaged the challenges brought about by unsustainable transport systems. Strategies convenient with respect to the status quo were stated, and any real effort to come up with more aggressive (and challenging) targets, such as those critical in effecting EST, were not achieved.
I believe that our role is to influence these people and, if necessary, take them by the hand and guide them like a another leads a blind person, so that they may realize the urgency of the situation. That same urgency is inherent in the inconvenient truth that Al Gore and other advocates for the environment, for the survival of our future, our descendants, have bravely presented for all to reflect and act on. We should and must formulate and implement inconvenient strategies. Strategies that will translate into meaningful programs and projects that will stave off the detrimental impacts of our present activities, if only to preserve this world for the next generations.
The advocacy for the environment and EST requires sacrifice. Indifference and resignation to our current lot will get us nowhere and ultimately dooms us as well as our world. It is not too late to try and it would certainly help if we do our part and make a genuine, honest effort to keep our earth alive.