BFF Kathleen May Garces, AB Interdisciplinary Studies, Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan
One of the very first memories I have when I was younger, I was playing around with my twin brother. We were playing around in our backyard, having the craziest imagination. Reenacting the films or cartoons we have seen on our television. Sometimes, my older brothers used to join us; life was simple back then. We used to live in a beloved province, living a simple life, knowing everyone, being close to family members, and seeing the beautiful creation it was surrounded by.
The enticing charm my province has, that city cannot compare. The same magnetics that I keep on looking at when I go places, however, I never got it elsewhere. There is truly something special in my province; I frequently find myself missing the place and the memories that I have to keep on replaying in my head. The comfort provides that no other place can, that only my province holds in my heart.
My cousins and I vowed to consistently go back and rediscover the precious land when we have the time to explore our province. Stepping from one destination to another left me astonished. Possibly, the reasons why my province is precious to me are the treasures it holds, the abundance it has, the creation, the people, the culture, and the tradition. It is the home I keep searching for and would frequently go back to.
However, as time passed and as my province evolved, I noticed slight changes that primarily looked like an advantage – an advantage to the community, to the people. But, when the programs and activities planned to “elevate” the terra firma I have always loved began, fear started to possess my heart. The changes and infrastructure that many insisted on “development” and “growth” slowly modified the details, the small things I loved about my place until the place became unknown in my eyes.
The memories, the adventure, and the charm it held are changing. The home-aura that it owned transitioned into the need to make the province more useful, profitable, and unrecognizable; everything that is opposite to the reasons that I have grown to love and appreciate about my province. I hope, wish, and pray that the development shall ever be prioritized over the priceless richness it naturally has. I dreamed of growth that shall preserve the beautiful creations and consider the needs of the community, that shall sustain and guarantee that they live and flourish. But, unfortunately, when I woke up, the perfect image I fixed in my dreams faded. And, now I encountered the heart-rending reality.
Forest Foundation Philippines, in partnership with Edukasyon.ph, its grantee, implemented the Best Friends of the Forest Movement (#BFFMovement) Online Fellowship Program to support young forest advocates in the country's most critical forest landscapes - Sierra Madre, Palawan, Samar and Leyte, and Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental. Through the program, students were given access to learning resources, mentorship opportunities, and platforms to showcase their passion projects. This published material is a passion project of our Best Friend of the Forest. The views and opinions expressed in this material are those of our Best Friend, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Forest Foundation Philippines and Edukasyon.ph. Furthermore, both Forest Foundation Philippines and Edukasyon.ph assume no liability or responsibility for any inaccurate or incomplete information presented in this material.