Lanuza, PH: A Selfish Tumor Sucking Life Out Of Paradise

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Lanuza Surigao Philippines surfing

Hey you! Yes you!

“Mining, no matter how responsible, can only be done as last resort, when absolutely there is no alternative way which resources can be utilized” -Travel Save World

In behalf of the people of Agusan-Surigao-Lanuza, I request that you visit the place soon as possible. It is urgent for you to go there.

Kindly pack your bags, book a flight and go. No questions asked just pick a date and go there on your next trip.

Why am I in such a hurry you ask?

It is because of the kids in the slideshow (above), and what is at stake for their future.

Know that the places pictured in the slideshow are both their playground and a family’s source of livelihood.

Wouldn’t you want to preserve this place? Preserve the smiles which these places creates?

Now imagine if these were to happen to their playground.

Lanuza Surigao Philippines Mining Operations 1

Lanuza Surigao Philippines Mining Operations 2

 (Mining operations in Surigao)

An impossibility? No, because it is already happening already in Lanuza’s neighboring towns . Thus a definite possibility in the near future.

How?

For years mining companies were granted license to operate under the guise that they would develop the towns and preserve the existing environment and its dependent ecosystem.

But what we saw and what local residents have told us illustrates a different tale. It is very depressing to see that no major development has happened even with billions of dollars already earned from years of mining these areas,

Majority of the people still live in shanties with no livelihood. For those who are employed by mining companies they are paid a measly sum compared in proportion to the billions of dollars that foreign mining companies are earning.

Imagine the quality of life of these communities. School kids walking exposed to the dirt and pollutants caused by mining. It isn’t too farfetched to call the community  as “The People of Dirt and Mud”

Surigao Mining Village

Surigao Mining Village School Children

Surigao Mining Roads Covered with Dirt

Surigao Mining Village School Children

 (Dirt and dust brought by transfer of soil from mining operations and erosion which school children are exposed to)

Is this another case of broken promises? Most probably.

If anyone would dare consider the few small townhouses built and modern cars provided for chosen indigenous tribe leaders, who don’t know any better, as development then something is really wrong with this world.

Ariel our hired van driver to Lanuza was silent for almost the whole trip.  He only decided to  finally break his silence when he talked about the ongoing mining.

Ariel Van Driver Butuan Surigao Lanuza

 (Ariel our van driver transporting us through the Surigao countryside)

“By the way we are passing by the mining area. I am really looking forward to show it to all of you, so you will see the situation we are in.” he started saying.

“See those mountains there?” referring to a mountain behind a fence we were passing by.

“Upfront that mountain looks good. They want to portray that nothing has been destroyed due to mining, but if you go over the front of that mountains you will instantly see a desert wasteland.  Mountains have been reduced to nothing but dust.”

Lanuza Surigao Philippines Mining Operations 5

Lanuza Surigao Philippines Mining Operations 6

Lanuza Surigao Philippines Mining Operations 7

 (Mining operations in Surigao)

He continued “Mining contracts were granted under the agreement that mining activities would cease after a fixed period. That period have ended a long-time ago, yet no one seems to let go of the with money being earned from mining.”

“Sad to say only a few from our community greatly benefits from these mining activities. They just built some houses as offerings to convince the heads of tribe to allow mining in their ancestral lands. The mining companies even provided a Toyota pickup for a tribe leader for mining to be allowed in his tribe’s ancestral lands. Funny thing is the same leader can’t ride the pickup because he gets nauseous. So the tribe leader prefers to ride a vehicle with an attached generator acting as an improvised engine.

The situation is comparable to a perfect scam. The people in these areas own the land and the resources; they engage in hard labor to mine it. Quite puzzling that it is the outsiders who benefit the most.

Additionally mining operations is very near the coastline of Butuan Bay is an environmental hazard. The question is not whether a mine spill will happen but when it would happen.

Any mine spill would be hard to contain for the ocean current would spread the contaminants for miles. This is evidenced the sea coast which has turned brownish due to soil erosion as a result of mining.

Surigao Mining Operations Near Butuan Bay

Surigao Mining Operations Near River Towards Butuan Bay

(Mining operations near bodies of water) 

It is obvious that most are opposed to the mining activities here.  Sarcastic banners in favor of mining are hanging throughout the span of the highway.

Surigao Mining Protest Banners

 (Sarcastic anti-mining banners. Translation: Many people have benefited from Mining.)

Very soon paradise would turn into a complete wasteland if nothing changes. Now they are attempting to expand their operations to other areas including Lanuza and its adjacent towns. They are even planning to build a pier near Lanuza to expand the mining shipping lanes.

From the words of a surfer aliased as Attorney from Lanuza:

“We have opposed mining here for a long time. We said that you have already destroyed Agusan thus leave your mining activities there. I bet you saw how beautiful Lanuza is. Can you imagine bringing mining activities here and what it would do to this place? Who would benefit the most? Of course the outsiders (foreigners) would benefit the most”

Lanuza Surigao Surfing Attorney

 (Surfer alias “Attorney)

Don’t get me wrong, I am not completely against mining. What I am perhaps, is a strong advocate against  IRRESPONSIBLE mining.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll instantly allow responsible mining, especially if there are alternative ways which our resources can be utilized. Mining, no matter how responsible, can only be done as a last resort.

Currently unless I am proven wrong, all evidence clearly shows that irresponsible mining is happening and there are other alternatives available.

So what is the solution you ask? The solution is for you to visit and help encourage the growth of tourism here. Unlike mining, tourism requires the cultivation and preservation of nature to be able to reap its benefits.

Tourism is sustainable and can go on for generations, while mining is a one time deal.The sooner tourism booms in this paradise, the more likely mining is eliminated here forever.

People would not only benefit in the short-term but for generations to come.

The potential of this place has not been fully explored yet. I bet magnificent diving, surfing and other jaw dropping environmental sites are just waiting to be discovered.

Sadly right now these places are in danger of being destroyed permanently.

So what are you lollygagging around for? GO!

For now the mining companies have a message for you.

Mining Operations Surigao

 (Message of miners for everyone)

I’ll be thankful too if I were them.

 

Gallery photos shot by Camilla Nacpil of www.phototelling.ph

(Nicco Lampa visited Lanuza, Philippines on November 29, 2012 until December 2, 2012)

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