Thursday, June 28, 2007

Batangas: Protect the Taal Volcano!

I've been forwarding articles about the ludicrous project being constructed in Talisay, Batangas since I first heard about it several days ago. It just shows how much brains (or the lack of it) some of our public officials have. Imagine constructing an elevator from the top of the crater down to the crater lake for the lazy tourists! How absurd can the mayor of Talisay get?! Our natural heritage has no price tag!

Here is the column of Gemma Cruz-Araneta (Manila Bulletin, Thursday, 28 July 2007). I'm posting it in full here for the benefit of all since she hit every point right on the dot:

Landscape: No pride of place
By Gemma Cruz Araneta

The bad news is that a Korean “health spa” and a Korean builder, Jung Ang Interventure Corporation are constructing a resort along the crater of the Taal Volcano. What is worse, according to news reports, is that the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) pointed out that although Taal is a protected area, it is not entirely closed to “ecotourism” projects that do not harm the environment. However, a Department of Tourism (DOT) spokesperson was quick to affirm that the Korean project was never endorsed by them simply because the Taal Volcano area is considered a permanent danger zone and the DOT is not in the habit of risking the lives of tourists and investors. Worst of all is the revelation that thirteen mayors of the towns surrounding Taal Lake have no pride of place.

Diffidently, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology could only warn that permanent structures should not be built in permanent danger zones. That is why it was almost exhilarating to see (on television) newly-elected Batangas governor, Vilma Santos Recto denouncing the same Korean project. She said she would not allow it because Taal Lake and volcano are areas protected by law. That was probably her first official declaration after having been sworn in. I do hope she has enough political will to go against the tide of financial enticements, the ineptitude of bureaucratic Pontius Pilates, unscrupulous stationary bandits and assorted piranhas around who a provincial governor has to swim and survive.

I hope that, in these frightful days of killings and disappearances, the PAMALAKAYA and the Samahan ng mga Mamamayan sa Lawa ng Taal (Samataal) do not lose courage nor steam. Already, they are being called “leftist” which, in the Philippine context, is tantamount to destroying the credibility of these advocates. The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), associated with the Left since martial law days are resolutely supporting the Taal Lake farmers in their struggle against the Korean health spa.

Doesn’t this give you a nasty feeling that the country is being sold bit by bit to the highest bidder? One might wake up, on a sunny morning, only to find out that while we were asleep, our national territory had been parceled and fragmented by assorted developers. . I am beginning to think a conspiracy has been going on right under our noses. Could it be mere coincidence that more and more Filipinos have forgotten, or have been conditioned to doubt and question that we ever declared ourselves an independent republic? This year, the nation did not stop to celebrate Independence Day with the usual reverence, pomp and grandeur. On Rizal’s birthday, the Chief Executive merely sent a wreath to the hero’s, monument. Next week, the anniversary of the Katipunan will most probably pass unnoticed. Is there a concerted effort to make us forget what and who we are?

The National Anthem is no longer Marcha Nacional Filipina but soul and blues; advertisement is stamped on the national flag; historical landmarks are demolished to give way to shopping malls. Alarmingly, there was a request to include the Philippines in China’s master plan and an unsolicited bid to reserve millions of hectares of our national territory for Chinese farmers to cultivate rice, corn and whatever else the once Sleeping Giant needs to sustain its robust growth. The USA which has coveted Mindanao since Pershing and Kudarat clashed swords, will finally gets its wish-- MINSUPALA-- with a new Mutual Defense Treaty as an added bonus. Is it true that Sec. Condoleeza Rice is scheduled to come for an ocular inspection? Lamentably, for those who have no sense of nation and no pride of place, everything is for sale.

* * *

Save the Rizal Shrine!
While the spa issue in Taal has been raging, PTA GM Dean Barbers has silently but blatantly continued construction in Intramuros! If the sports complex is completed, it will damage the area around the Rizal Shrine, blocking the view from the walls. Calling all lovers of Rizal and concerned citizens of the Philippines, let's continue our fight to protect the Rizal Shrine and the walls of Intramuros!

Here is an older post about it: Save the walls of Intramuros!

Related articles
Ugly side of Tourism Authority revealedFormer PTA heads want Gen. Mgr. Barbers chargedWhat is behind Barbers’ insistence on this project?Ex-PTA chiefs want Barbers sued for Intramuros projectFormer PTA heads demand Barbers’ resignationIntramuros a warehouse?PTA’s illegal designs on Intramuros

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  2. Anonymous28.6.07

    wha? how did this all happen?

  3. The local government was obviously blinded by you know what.

  4. Ms. Araneta and Mr. Ivan Henares are
    but a flickering light of hope to all
    this upside down situation. One has to think how rich in History is the city of Manila in comparison to the other cities in the orient and yet after all these years people have manage well NOT to preserve this once thriving cosmopolitan city . It is but disgusting & a disgrace to the learned Filipino to see at one point the giant face of the honorable lito atienza hanging in front of Metropolitan theatre ... campaigning for his next term of office ..... ????

  5. It would seem that Gemma Cruz Araneta is rather ignorant when it comes to Mindanao. Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat lived in the 16th Century. General Blackjack Pershing lived in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. If they ever clashed swords, it wasn't on this earth.

  6. Anonymous28.6.07

    i heard this on the news last night. i think it was decided that the construction was to be temporarily stopped until officials finish re-reviewing the project plans. i really hope that they put a stop to this. the taal volcano is one of the most beautiful places in the country.
    what's with all these koreans anyway?? is their country too small for them that they have to put up a spa here??

  7. Anonymous28.6.07

    you mean protect the tourist. theyre the ones in danger if they construct it there. not the taal.

  8. Nope, I really mean protect the Taal Volcano because it's part of our natural heritage. Any tourist who chooses to stay there especially when the alert level is up, would be foolish, doing it at his or her own risk, and breaking the law.

  9. Anonymous28.6.07

    sigh. i was in Batangas when I found out. ang masaklap, Korean firm pa. Why are they letting foreigners get away with existing laws and regulations?

  10. Maybe because they got something really big in return? :)

  11. Anonymous28.6.07

    under the table transaction for sure kaya sila pipit bingi...

  12. Anonymous28.6.07

    hay naku! these people are twat to let this project to be carried out. not to mention the risk of having it near the crater, they are actually threatening the clandestine beauty of taal.

  13. Anonymous28.6.07

    Are they crazy? Building a spa along a volcano's crater?
    Or are they thinking of a big sauna bath?

  14. Anonymous28.6.07

    It is sad... money talks and bs walks.... I'm looking to build a resort myself but I'll never be like those Koreans with no respect for natures.

  15. Anonymous28.6.07

    i've heard about it and napakunot ang noo ko. what the?! bakit ganun naman...

    mamaya pati mayon volcano me ganyan na rin...

  16. Anonymous28.6.07

    what?! koreans??its not that im against them or something, its not right, Taal and korean spa it doesn't seem to jive with each other, why can it be Filipino spa I mean taal belongs to Filipinos not to a filipino but to all filipinos...gush...and to think its nature spa can be somewhere else or better yet build there spa in their own land.

  17. Oh my God, seriously?! The hike is, like, one of the best things to do in Taal! ARGH! And Taal is, as you said, a national heritage! Hindi ba dapat protected yan? Parang yung mga national parks sa States? >_<

  18. i just heard it from the news a while ago that some portions of land occupying taal volcano proper actually has land titles/documents from private individuals.. i mean hindi ba kapag declared national site eh hindi pwede magkaron ng pribadong titulo..? grabe only in the Philippines.. i'm 100% behind you for this cause Kuya Ivan.

  19. Exactly! How can a national park have private titles! Only in the Philippines

  20. Anonymous29.6.07

    The project will not see its end. It just won't be finished with local residents opposing it. Just a little optimism here. :)

  21. Anonymous29.6.07

    you wrote:
    How absurd can the Mayor of Talisay get?
    You wouldn't know, unless I told you.
    And here goes an example.
    When he became mayor, the resorts in Talisay complained about the "Hagad boys". These are unscrupulous independents who try to block the road, trying to sell boat rides. The worst of them, had motorcycles.
    If a tourist ran the blockade, they would jump on their bikes, chase the cars. When they caught up, they would dive in front of the cars, stop their bikes, hop off and try to sell a boatride to the terrified tourists in the car.
    The Mayors proposed solution to the problem as I understood it? get this...
    The municipio would stop all the cars on the road, and if they were tourist vehicles, they would be ordered to go to a hall that he would build, where the tourists would be forced to pay to watch a movie about taal. without the used movie passes, they would not be able to take a boatride to taal volcano.
    The local tourist resorts were up in arms -"Duh?"
    The result? Since early this year, every tourist who sets foot on the island has to pay a municipal tax of P50.
    The Hagad boys? they are still there.
    Peter Capotosto
    Taal Lake Yacht Club
    Talisay, Batangas

  22. Anonymous29.6.07

    That's disheartening! Here in UK, the country support restoration projects of old buildings with great significance to their history while some of our politicians in the Philippines are so inconsiderate and disregardful of the heritage of the Walls of Intramuros & the shrine of our national hero.... what a pity...

  23. Anonymous29.6.07

    Ang kulit naman ni Barbers! Why isn't anyone in authority trying to stop him? Ganun ba sya kalakas?

  24. Anonymous1.7.07


    "No Pride of Place"
    Landscape (Manila Bulletin}
    Gemma Cruz Araneta

    Thank you reader Robert for pointing out my ignorance of Mindanao. Sultan Kudarat fought the Spaniards in the 16th century, way before Pershing was born.

    The sentence about Pershing and Kudarat should have read: "The USA had coveted Mindanao even before Pershing and Panglima Amil crossed krag and kris; it will finally get its wish--Minsupala--with an new Mutual Defense Treaty as an added bonus."

  25. Ok, now that is so stupid to have a resort or project within the vicinity of a volcano crater. Dormant or not, who knows when will the volcano will erupt. This will just endanger tourists both local and foreign.

    One thing I really don't like with some of our countrymen is the sense of "not" preserving and "wasting" of the natural resources of our rich country just to get something "big in return".

    Let Taal's natural beauty alone be "the tourist attraction" without constructing some man-made structures for enhancements.

  26. Anonymous23.9.07

    Hi, I`ve just come across your website while searching for a link for my blog about a lake in Japan similar to Taal Lake, but without the the ugly face of commercialization. You may want to check it out:

  27. Anonymous22.4.08

    noong unang panahon ang pananakop dinadaan sa sandata,aba ibang klase ang mga koreano,binibili mga lupa sa pinas,pinaalis mga nakatira sa sa subic at ng tau,sila ng sarili nilang condo sa gitna ng subic forest,porke no read no write ang ating mga ninuno,gusto nilang gawin golf course ang Aeta Land,tapos may sarili silang travel agency,sariling bus tour at sariling korean tour guide,sila sila lng kumikita,

  28. That is fine. When that volcano erupts, investment gone.


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