Sunday, May 25, 2014


by Julius R. Paner

With the on-going road widening project of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Davao del Sur, several Narra trees along the Cebulan, Astorga national road have been cut down. These trees are all century-old, fully-grown and have been with the community of Astorga for quite a long time traversing from generation to generation.

As an individual shaded with the compassion of tree canopies since my childhood days, I am a person whose love of trees is extraordinary. Sometimes, the forest is an instant refuge to ease my personal predicament either at home or in the office. I always have this feeling of relief whenever I am in the woodlands, that’s why whenever I saw forest being massacred or even a single tree being cut down, I always had an immediate feeling of anguish. My personal fight against cutting of trees is not new. I was even admonished before while reporting an incident of illegal logging in 2008. Even then, I cannot afford to just let this passion of loving trees gone with the wind. And here I am again now, today, for this same cause. Why? Plain and simple, trees are special creations which is synonymous to life. Let me share this fact to all of you:

“Trees are the longest living organisms on the planet and one of the earth’s greatest natural resources. They keep our air supply clean, reduce noise pollution, improve water quality, help prevent erosion, create shade and help make our landscapes look beautiful. Over the course of its life, a single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide while a mature tree removes almost 70 times more pollution than a newly-planted tree.”

It was just last week when I saw something tragic over at Cebulan upon seeing persons carrying chainsaws, the equipment they call ‘weapons of mass destruction.” There I saw huge narra trees lying beside the road like an innocent crowd being killed helplessly.  Aside from the trees being slaughtered, there were billboards hitting before my very eyes with text in it that says “cutting of trees sanctioned by DENR.” Whatever reasons for giving DPWH and its contractors the permit to cut all those trees, I really felt sorry about this phenomenon. I see no basis why those trees should be killed. Physically, they were still not as old as the brains of some government functionaries are. Those government agencies should be punished.

I simply could not understand why these government agencies force to cut trees in exchange of the so-called road widening where in fact they could modestly divert road path to areas where there are no trees. First, there is no amount of road widening can fill up the roles and services provided by trees to mankind. Second, it is not the fault of these hundred-year old trees that they grow and thrive in Cebulan near the national highway. Definitely it is not their fault, let them live there for all eternity. Third, while the mandate of DENR is to plant more trees, this action certainly defeats our efforts to facilitate and join majority of tree planting activities.

When ordinary people are being punished when they commit sin by raping helpless women, I see no reason not to penalize and imprison government agencies when they mercilessly rape the nature. Raping nature is raping the human race as well.

To the Philippine government, particularly the DPWH and DENR who have been caught up between two major options of development and conservation, please be reminded that development is not development unless there are collateral damages. Development only happens if the welfare of the next generations is considered. If we are putting the lives of our children and grandchildren on the line with our present acts, the purpose of doing such is highly irrational.

Let me end this blog by quoting the line from Gifford Pinchot, “unless we practice conservation, those who come after us will have to pay the price of misery, degradation, and failure for the progress and prosperity of our day.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sarangani Bay Festival 2014

The Sarangani Bay Festival (SarBay Fest) has started to become a google item few years after its inception. And the 2014 version of this festivity has been very dominant, gathering tourists from all over the world that eventually made Sarangani Province the next ultimate beach party destination in Mindanao.

My warm congratulations to the provincial government of Sarangani for coming up with such a wonderful initiative. People’s response to the festival was amazing, congregating more or less 80,000 (as per verbal information) people which eventually generated multiplier effects to the residents of Sarangani. With that weeklong event, local trade flourished, resorts and accommodation facilities were all fully-booked and this formerly- hushed province was instant abode of the so-called “party people”.


According to Governor Steve Solon whom I chatted with during the finale evening of the festival, this year’s celebration was the grandest and the biggest in terms of arrivals. “We are happy to note that more people visited SarBay this year and we will be making it more festive next year.”

With the success of SarBay Fest 2014, there can be no stopping the Sarangani Province to become a future household name for tourists. And I am glad to have witnessed it through an invitation of a good friend Meggy and the rest of her friends.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

There and Back Again

I thought of taking a breather after a war-like environment in the office for practically all days of April as the month was one hell of physical, mental and emotional calisthenics. From a busy planning, coordination meetings, registration process and actual implementation of the Mt. Apo Boulder Face Challenge to the hectic Lenten season climb where bundle of climbers visited Sta. Cruz trail; there can be no other option to relax except to climb Mt. Apo after all those busy schedules.

And I did just that. With my colleagues in LOGSAC Hardi and Glenn Mark, in-laws Kingking and Jinggoy and neophytes Rocky, Kurt, Rian and Ryner; we climbed Mt. Apo via Sibulan Trail on April 29 and 30 and I considered it as one of my most memorable climbs ever to this mountain that has already been part of my personal identity.

In a span of two days, we completed the route from Baruring to the summit and back. We camped at Tinikaran Campsite 2 in the evening (my first camping in Camp 2 after 10 years). Tinikaran Campsite 2 could actually be a good overnight option if only it has a good water source as it is only a little over 10 minutes hike to LOGSAC gully (mouth of the boulders). While at camp 2, I instantly remembered my first climb to Mt. Apo in 2004 where I also camped in the place, it was indeed very relaxing to reminisce the first time I set foot in the country’s highest peak. It was already 10 years since I became a mountaineer.

Being a 10-year veteran mountaineer, I could not count how many times already I climbed Mt. Apo, how many times I surmounted this peak with so many different personalities I guided with their own experiences already being considered life-changing. Being here for ten years, I could hardly recall how many times this mountain gave me opportunities to gain new friends from all over the world.

Being here for almost one-third of my life, I could not figure out how my life would be without this mountain which eventually helped shaped my personality similar to his might and height. With Mt. Apo in me throughout those years, I have once become a person standing tall at 10,316+ feet above sea level.

As I celebrate my ten years in mountaineering, I am deeply gratified by the kindness that Mt. Apo has given me and to the rest of humanity. Thank you to the grandfather of all Philippine mountains for always there, for always giving me better perspectives when I shoot you with my camera. Thank you for being so affectionate that no matter how THEY abused you, you still never show your cruelty to mankind. Thank you because you always open your wide arms to catch the rain so that all of us will have water to drink. Thank you because with your stability, all of us in the lowlands are happy creations. 

Above all, thank you because with you around, we can always climb and enjoy you whenever we need to.