Photo by:  Judy PartlowThe alarming report on the radio indicated that thousands of families were being evacuated from along the Banica River while people along Ocoy River fear to be washed out due to the rains of Tropical Depression Quennie. These rivers are arteries from Mount Talinis down into the communities surrounding Dumaguete and Sibulan. These devastating floodwaters are a recurring theme in these recent years and many are pointing to one cause– the deforestation of Mt. Talinis.

Two years ago, I was invited to the first Binhi Youth Conference held at Eugenio Lopez Center, Antipolo. Three of us were chosen to represent St Paul University Dumaguete. The BINHI Youth Conference (BYC) is an experiential learning seminar that strengthens the leadership and sustainability skills of the participants. It has lectures and workshops on topics such as ecosystem services, biodiversity,climate change interventions, project management and leadership values formation.The Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is the sponsor of the BYC.

I deeply appreciate the passionate facilitators and employees at EDC who taught us many things. One of the things I remember from Sir Rei Medrano, EDCs Manager for Corporate Social Responsibility, which really inspires me that time was when he shared “…this project taught us patience because its something money cannot buy. Growing and protecting native trees does not have a short cut. Nature has its own way that we need to learn from.”

Photo by Dennis Asis Mira
Today, it is sad that the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) that sponsored our gathering and spoke so convincingly about protecting our forests is the same Corporation that is massively cutting the last forests cover of Mt. Talinis. I am a supporter of development particularly the harnessing of new technology for the communities but this means ensuring and upholding the people’s safety and interest as well.

EDC continues to be supportive of youth in the Province. But there is an inconsistency when they speak of protecting the forest at our youth conferences and plunder the forests in the name of expansion for their geothermal plants on Mt. Talinis. How can they bear the burden of such destruction in the face of the raging floods that deforestation is causing?

Photo by Ann Cale
I appeal to my fellow BINHI colleagues, especially those who just finished the EDC Binhi Youth Camp in Valencia, our role is to stand with the truth, to speak up, to ask questions, to get facts, and act when needed. This is about our future. We need to protect our forests today. Yes we are grateful for the opportunities EDC has provided us. We are thankful of the exciting experiences that are helpful in developing us into future leaders. But the time has come to translate learning into practice. Let us together Save Mount Talinis.

Written by: Zeph Repollo, East Asia, Coordinator