This is a Google Maps satellite image of an area that constitutes the Municipality of Claver in Surigao del Norte. I was able to observe this from a distance last September 22-24. The large area appears to have a striking reddish hue because the entire coastal mountain range is DENUDED of its forest cover. Claver supposedly has the largest iron mineral deposit in the world, and one can surmise that this denudation of the mountains is partly due to the mining activities that have gone on in the past years.
However, (and I do admit that I have limited knowledge on this matter), I could not grasp the idea of a mining operation that is so large a scale as to cover an entire mountain range. What makes it more suspicious is that there were numerous cargo vessels anchored off the shore of Claver. What is it that they could be taking from Claver that would necessitate such large and numerous vessels? And where are they taking them?
Then I came across this video on YouTube uploaded by taureanfate:
Here is the accompanying note of the video:
My job entails a lot of traveling- mostly in the areas of Mindanao. Took this video last year and I just thought of putting some sort of bg music for it.
For people who don’t reside there, this place is known to them as The Red Mountain. The land/soil is really close to bright red. It’s really a sight!
The first time we passed by the place, there were still a lot of “red mountains” visible. The second time however, was really frustrating. Almost everything was just FLAT and lifeless.
Residents living nearby knew that something is going on. With all the big ships that were docked near the shores, they knew that the truckloads of land/soil were being transported to somewhere. They said, they all go to JAPAN.
So then one begins to wonder..
Kailan nagiging masama ang sibilisasyon at industriyalisasyon?
1.) Kapag ibang bansa ang nakikinabang sa yamang lupa ng bansa– Makikita sa video ang mga barkong nakaantabay, naghihintay sa mga trak na siyang may dala ng lupang galing sa lugar (mas kilala bilang The Red Mountain)
2.) Kapag naging bulag at pipi ang mga tao sa mga kamaliang nakikita.
3.) Kapag umabot sa puntong nilalapastangan na ang kapaligiran kapalit ng ano? Modernong gusali? Beach resorts? — Unang daan namin sa Brgy Taganito, di pa sementado ang mga daan, may mga pulang bundok ka pang makikita.. Subalit sa huling panhik namin, mabibilang mo na lang ang mga bundok, makikitang may may mga nagkaingin, at may dalawang piyer nang nagawa para sa mga barko..
–Props to Mr. Noel Cabangon’s Nais Ko (BG music), it was your song Sir that first popped into my mind while taking the vid. Thank you.
Clearly, something atrocious is going on. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING AT ALL?!?! Is there no DENR office in the entire province of Surigao del Norte? How can anyone justify giving an environmental permit to such an obvious act of environmental degradation as this one? Even from faraway Bucas Grande Island, one can see the reddish dust rising from this entire stretch of the coast - evidence of accelerated soil erosion of mountains slowly being leveled.
Then we need to ask another ugly question. Clearly someone benefited from this atrocity. Who?
Here are the current and past governors of Surigao del Norte starting from the most recent:
Sol Matugas (2010-present)
Robert “Ace” Barbers (2007-2010)
Robert Lyndon Barbers (2001-2004 and 2004-2007)
Francisco Matugas (1995-1998 and 1998-2001)
That’s as far back as I could look up. (If you know the ones prior to 1995, you can place them in the comments section below.) Quite obviously, one can see only 2 family names in that list. I have no way of knowing whether what’s happening in Claver has been going on for more than 16 years. But even if this has gone on prior to 1995, it’s also clear that for 16 years, some really powerful people in this province turned a blind eye while the land was being destroyed.
I looked around more in the web and it seems that GMA 7′s Reporter’s Notebook will be doing an investigative report on this and other similar cases tomorrow, October 4. I for one intend to watch it, and I suggest you do too. This needs all the publicity it could get to shame the government officials into acting and perhaps reversing this man-made catastrophe.
And if this turns out to be tragically irreversible, then let it serve as a reminder about what can happen if the same is allowed on other places, most notably in Palawan.
God bless the Philippines. God have mercy on the Philippines.
I just found out that the NPA (New People’s Army) attacked a mining operation in Claver in the morning prior to my posting of the blog. While I’m no fan of the NPA, (in fact, I’m very much against it) I feel assured that there are at least people who are actively struggling against the environmental destruction, for whatever reason.
In the past months, I have received (and continue to receive) a lot of comments regarding this particular blog entry, both for and against mining. At first, the pro-mining posts made me question my views on mining in Surigao del Norte. As such I endeavored to do a lot more research just to be absolutely sure on whether or not my original views are justified. I have done this, and I have come to the conclusion that while a few minor details of my original entry are inaccurate, these do not in any way affect my conviction that what’s happening in Surigao del Norte is blatantly destructive and far outweighs any good benefit.
In the past weeks, I have received a deluge of pro-mining comments whose phrasing are strikingly generic as if they were lifted straight out of a pro-mining handbook. As I have already received similar comments and replied to most issues they raised (and more importantly acknowledged any mistake I might have made), I do not feel the need to repeat my replies. And I certainly do not feel the need to publish the new duplicitous comments either.
More to the point, I’d like to make it known that I will no longer approve for publishing any additional comments on this issue. I’m thoroughly convinced of my beliefs and no amount of agreements or disagreements will strengthen or weaken, respectively, such conviction. I will however still read new comments in their entirety prior to deleting them.
I run a travel blog and I consider it a failure on my part that this entry - which has almost nothing to do with traveling - is the one that has gotten the most number of hits in the history of this blog. Disabling the comment function for this post is my way of spending more time blogging about my travels.
If any prospective pro-mining commenters feel particularly aggrieved about not being able to reply to the points I raised, then they are certainly welcome to create their own blog where they would have greater freedom to elucidate on the supposed strengths of their position. (And they can even get even and disapprove my comments should I feel the need to make them.)
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This entry is part of the Surigao & Butuan series dated September 22-27, 2011:
1. The Ugly Side of Surigao del Norte
2. Preview: Surigao del Sur’s Twin Gems
3. The Surigao & Butuan Series (prologue)
4. Bucas Grande and Sohoton Cove
5. A few stops between Sohoton and Socorro
6. The Long Road to Bislig and Tinuy-an Falls
7. An Afternoon in Hinatuan
8. A Heritage Tour of Butuan