This article is one of the winning works chosen from Youth as Keepers of the Forest, a writing workshop conducted in partnership with Edukasyon.ph for university students in Bukidnon.
I spent my early years in Cebu, a busy city of cars and tall buildings. Then, my family moved south, for a change, to a highland paradise in Mindanao. Life here has been very far removed from my life in the city. There is always fresh air and access to clean water. Life in Bukidnon is simple, especially when compared to the expensive lifestyle in the city. This transition from city to countryside has given me so much joy and memories.
Having grown up with the sight of the green mountains and rice fields, I was inspired to take the “greener” path and choose Forestry as my academic course, to continue my passion for safeguarding the lifeblood of the world–our forests. The entire country, not just the province of Bukidnon, is currently facing a lot of problems, and that includes the environmental crisis. The Philippines is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, and while our country has such a rich concentration of species, they are under the threat of humans. There are numerous threats to our forests as well, such as land conversion, habitat degradation, logging, forest fires, pollution, pests and diseases, climate change, and even over-exploitation.
With the increasing rise of industrialization and globalization, our forestlands have been converted into agricultural lands to provide food for Filipinos. Due to poverty, most people are forced to engage in illegal logging, without realizing the consequences of their actions. Land conversion and habitat degradation have long threatened our biodiversity, including faunal and floral endemic species. We still have our forests, but the question is, how much longer are we going to be able to keep them, what with all the threats and challenges caused by our anthropogenic activities and natural disturbances?
With all these challenges, we need to be firm on our stand of protecting and safeguarding the gift of our Mother Earth and conserving its natural resources. This means a change of attitude and perspective, even before we start raising awareness for the preservation of our forests. And we need to keep this passion burning in order for us to effectively contribute to the conservation process. The government sector, schools, industries, and entire communities can, together, create an impact. With the cooperation of all, we can change the situation for the sake of future generations. This small beginning can surely lead to a beautiful ending.
Our efforts may be as small as a seed today, but these can soon flourish and become as mighty as trees. When planted right, our actions can grow into a vast forest of hope, ultimately allowing us to provide the basic needs of all humanity. Let us all be brave and be the guardians of our homelands.
About the Author:
Regein G. Calunsag is a Forestry student in Central Mindanao University. Since she was young, she loves reading and writing stories. And now she is more empowered to be the voice of today’s youth generation in safeguarding our forests and our homes.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Forest Foundation Philippines. Furthermore, the Foundation assumes no liability or responsibility for any inaccurate or incomplete information presented in this article.