A November 2018 photo of the quarry site of Goodfound Cement Factory in Barangay Palanog, Camalig, Albay. File Photo of The Philippine Examiner.

RAVAGED HILLS. A November 2018 photo of the quarry site of Goodfound Cement Factory in Barangay Palanog, Camalig, Albay. File Photo of The Philippine Examiner.

Introduction:

Albeit they say that the present application is only for exploration – to determine whether the area being explored has commercial quality and quantity for cement making, if this is, this will eventually lead to mining thus I ( in behalf of the Department of Tourism) interject our opposition to such activity based on the following grounds;

  1. I am for development because development means progress brings prosperity to the lives of the people. I guess this is also the strong reason why this application for exploration.

 

I know that cement is one of the key issue ingredients of progress as it is needed for infrastructure – like buildings, runways, roads etc. Having a cement factory in our midst is something we should be happy about because presumably, we will have lower prices of cement however this did not happen. The price of their cement is still the same as with other cement coming from outside the region. Therefore, they lost their advantage of having their cement factory here because we did not benefit from them after all. We might as well buy our cement from manufacturers outside of the region and leave their pollution to them.

 

  1. Sure they pay taxes and I suppose in several million (I wonder if they pay it locally), but it has improved the lives of people in Camalig? Is Camalig popular because of its cement factory or is it because of its Quituinan Hills, Quitinday Green Hills or the Japanese tunnel. How many people visit these tourist destinations, pay money but not destroy the environment – Oh they love these places? They love it because tourism beautifies, mining does the opposite.

 

How many lives have been changed because of tourism? Don’t look far for the answer, just look at how many establishments are lined up along the road of Camalig selling their world famous pinangat. You are so proud of our pinangat thus you named your festival pinangat. Or would you rather have it cement festival?

  1. Under DOT –DPWH convergence progress called TRIP, we spent for Camalig roads leading to tourist destinations the amount of PhP 575,000,000,00 from 2011 to 2018 covering a total of 38 kilometers. For 2019 the government will spend PhP 45,000,000,00 with a total length of 2 kilometers. We believe Albay government has also provided their counterparts all materialized pursuant to Sangguniang Bayan So you, therefore, believed in the potential of tourism. We do endorse it to because we believe in our vision for Camalig tourism wise.

 

Now, may I ask how many kilometers of a road has the cement factory built? Does it even maintain the road they damaged because of the heavy loads of their trucks? Will they allow the government’s investment for tourism roads that you yourselves endorsed after patiently waiting for so long be destroyed in an instant by only a few? By the way, at the moment there is also a pending application for TIEZA funding from Sangguniang Bayan of Camalig. Would you want us to stop this?

 

  1. It is argued that the area for exploration and possible mining site is outside the buffer zone of Albay Biosphere Reserve. But we can be 100% sure that its side effects will just be confined in its area of operation?

 

Have they made a thorough study about its effects to the environment not only in Camalig but also its neighboring municipalities like Daraga, Jovellar, Guinobatan, Legazpi City and as far as Donsol who happens to have nature as their portfolio for tourism? Let us bear in mind that the environment has no political boundaries, what we do here in Camalig will affect everyone.

We are witness to the history of development, progress and how it is linked to the economy. We have also witnessed how many industries despite their economic benefits are being transformed to respond to the changing times which is for a sustainable, environment-friendly practice. Let me cite a few.

Coal-fired the industrial revolution. It propelled may world economies but we have seen how it affected the environment. Coal is one of the major contributors in damaging our ozone layer which caused our climates to change which according to studies will affect mostly developing/underdeveloped countries like the Philippines. As an alternative we now have renewable energy (solar, wind, current etc.) starting next year, leading world economies will stop using coal and switch to renewable energy and other countries are expected to follow.

The use of plastic is convenient but its killing Mother Earth. Because of plastics fishes are drowning in the sea (yes drowning) – how ironic. So we are switching back to paper as an alternative. But to mitigate the cutting of trees which is the raw materials for paper, new materials are being introduced like water lily etc as a substitute for trees.

Tourism is also, is an alternative for socio-economic growth. We bring development and progress without destroying our environment. Bicol Region is endowed with rich natural resources that we can make use of without altering or damaging our environment but harnessing it for development for the greater good of all and not just for some.

To me this is my duty and responsibility, to make sure that the next generation will enjoy Mother Earth the way I enjoyed it and I can only do that if I make the right choices now. Tourism goals throughout the world are for a sustainable environment through best practices.

Help me in protecting our environment before it’s too late. We are all victims of the damages brought about by climate change – remember Typhoon Reming. Shall we wait for another powerful typhoon to follow or shall we do something to prevent it from happening again? The answers lie in our hands. The future lies in our choices we make at the present, but we know the answer, that is no to further exploration or mining activity in Camalig.

On the final note, Camalig is one of the tourism model sites being visited by various local government units because of the best practices in tourism development.

Hence, if you really think the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath while you count your money.

God bless everyone.