By Jessrill Oporto
A few years ago, long before somebody make a stand for the protection of mountains and forests all over the Philippines and particularly Caraga Region, a powerful businessman from Manila went to Surigao provinces to scan the region for a business venture. He was never contented of the major business empires he ran for himself and his Chinese masters.
Asked what he thought of what he had seen, he said the places he had been to were ugly and not perfect to lure tourists so they need to be mined and exported to China and other resources-hungry developing nations.
No one, practically no one, among educated professionals and the middle class disagreed and protested. All local politicians and government officials were secretly smiling and happy as they see, money flowing into their pockets. Never mind if the forests are shaved, mountains flattened, major river system contaminated and poor upland people displaced.
Such was the idea of the Manila power broker who was said to come from a poor family before.
Politicians, both local and national, thought we need this man. We probably do. We are all like him. We all want to be damn rich, not caring about our environment, live in guarded subdivisions and unwind abroad.
Then a lady Hindu-Buddhist came to visit the region and saw how green and alive the mountains, forests and islands. She also saw firsthand how the mined areas were “skinned alive to death” until there was nothing left.
She made a stand. All mining activities in the forests and watersheds should stop. We have enough of mining interests, and the destruction and annihilation of our “ugly land” as they described it.
Many times she was demonized and put down by paid propagandists and powerful “honorable legislators” close to mining operators getting a piece of bread. But Gina did not surrender and she pursued her fight to stand up for what is right and just for Earth and humanity.
The gentle lady who is fond of meditation and silence is now gone. Gone to follow the great light. Maybe we should be grateful, through her we were also reborn.