MALOLOS CITY— Commissioner Grace Padaca of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) enjoined everybody in protecting and conserving the Sierra Madre saying no one is excused.
Padaca’s statement came receiving the Gawad Sierra Madre award from the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society Inc., (SSMESI) and the Center for Bulacan Studies (CBS) for the Bulacan State University.
Other recipients of the said awards are Father Pete Montallana, a crusading priest from Quezon province, and Delfin Friginal, the late Dumagat chieftain in Bulacan.
“Walang exempted sa tungkuling pangalagaan ang Sierra Madre,” said Padaca, the former governor of Isabela province.
She stressed that whether a person is in government or nor, sick or healthy, he or she has a duty to rptect the mountain ranged that stretches from Isabela in northern Luzon to Bicol region in southern Luzon.
Padaca added that a person’s economic situation is also not a hindrance saying, mayamaa o mahirap ay hindi pwedeng magsabi na hindi sila kasali sa pagbibigay protection sa Sierra Madre.”
The same was echoed by Father Montallana, the crusading priest from Quezon province who said, “tayong lahat ay dapat maging tagapagtanggol ng kalikasan.”
Montallana recalled the 2004 tragedy caused by flash flood in General Nakar town in Quezon.
He said that while wading through waist high mud, he realized that protection of the environment must not be entrusted to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
This is due the fact that despite the agency’s programs and projects, the environment, especially the Sierra Madre remained at the mercy of illegal loggers, miners and quarry operators.
As a priest who spent years in immersion with Dumagat tribesmen, Montallana recalled the lessons he learned from indigenous peoples (IP) in terms of conserving the environment.
He said that the environment must not be viewed as a source of income but must be considered as “brothers” just like how the IPs treated it.
The same was affirmed by Brother Martin Francisco of the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society Inc., (SSMESI) who authored the book “Mahabe Pagotan: Kasaysayan, Kalinangan, at Kalikasan ng mga Dumagat sa Bahaging Bulacan ng Sierra Madre.”
Citing what he learned from Dumagats, Francisco saiironmental protection that lowlanders have very low understanding of environment protection and of the culture of the IPs.
He said that lowlander’s culture have influenced the IPs and resulted into unabated destruction of Sierra Madre.
“Nakalulungkot na habang nabibihisan ang mga Dumagat ay nahuhubaran ang Sierra Madre at mga kabundukan natin,” he said.
Francisco said that the he hopes that the book he wrote will bridge the gap in understanding environment and the Dumagats.
The award was given after the launch of the book on Monday which coincide with the 108th founding anniversary of the Bulacan State University (BulSU).
The book was pubslished by the BulSU Center for Bulacan Studies (CBS) where Francisco serves as consultant on Dumagat studies. (Dino Balabo)