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.
Roosters crow as the sun begins to rise. This has become our wakeup call in the province. Since most of us don’t own clocks, a bell from a nearby rice drying and milling facility rings to indicate the time of the day.
Every day, I walk with Doggy (my 18-year-old dog) past our neighbors’ houses. Doggy always loves to play in the rice fields, along with children who are flying kites. He barks and jumps as he watches the kites dance in the wind. He runs along with the other kids, chasing after their kites moving towards different directions as if to reach the blue sky. Children in our province fly kites in the summer season when there is lots of time to play with friends.
After playing with my dog, we rush home for breakfast. My mother has already prepared food and set the table, so we eat right away. Over breakfast, our mother asks us to accompany her to the spring, where she washes dirty clothes and pillows. She also instructs us to bring empty water gallon containers to fill up for tomorrow’s use. As soon as we finish eating, we head over to the spring. With idle time to spare, I jump into the waters of the spring. My sisters also join in to feel the cool water in their feet, and they start splashing water to my face. We play a mermaid game together with other kids. Our mom catches us but just smiles and reminds us to fetch water after our swim.
Since we cannot afford to have our own water supply, we always go to the spring to do chores. We depend a lot on what nature gives us. Even the firewood we use for cooking, we get from the forest near the spring. Life here is simple and old-fashioned because we are blessed with natural resources that we can use for free.
Bukidnon is a landlocked province in the Northern Mindanao region. It is also considered to be the food basket of Mindanao. It is the major producer of rice and corn in the region. Plantations in the province also produce pineapples, bananas, and sugarcane. It has been identified as one of the country’s richest in biodiversity and endemic species of flora and fauna. There are also communities of indigenous people in Bukidnon, known as the first dwellers of the province.
It used to be a clean and healthy place, where people would wake up early to jog, fetch water or swim in springs and rivers, watch the sunrise, and stroll around parks. But a lot has changed. Bukidnon has faced environmental challenges and concerns. The rivers are no longer as clean as before. The water level of the spring has decreased. Garbage and human waste are thrown into rivers and springs, causing floods during the rainy season.
The natural waters have been polluted to the point that we need a power system to distill it for safe use. The forests, once lush with trees and vegetation, have slowly deteriorated due to deforestation and new infrastructures built for business use. Commercial buildings are being built at such a fast pace. Many people have now chosen to work in public and private establishments located in the cities and municipalities. While these changes have created new employment opportunities, they have also left some agricultural land barren. Even though farming is one of our primary sources of income, poverty, and hunger is still a big problem in Bukidnon.
I hope that this can be a wake-up call for everyone to start working as one in protecting the environment. We are all part of this challenge because it concerns us all. We can create positive change in different ways, like planting trees in vacant yards, facilitating or joining organizations and activities that work towards protecting and preserving nature, and even promoting clean and green communities through our social media accounts. Together, we can make it our advocacy to make Bukidnon, like our own homes, properly protected, and cared for.
About the Author:
Analiza D. Marquez is a Development Communication student at Bukidnon State University. An inspired youth who calls Bukidnon home, she wants to tell stories about nature, the environment, and how they affect humanity. Through the Forest Foundation and Edukasyon.ph’s writing workshop, she realized her personal experiences are important stories to share.
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.