Help Save Palawan

The Philippines’ Last Ecological Frontier: Saving the island of Palawan, one signature at a time


 


Falling in love with the beauty of Palawan is falling deeply in love with the immaculate splendor of Mother Nature.

 

One can only imagine how trip to this lovely destination, lying more than 500 kilometers southwest of Manila, can turn into the most unforgettable leisure experience ever. Known for its rich natural resource that have awed and captivated both Filipinos and foreigners alike, the island of Palawan has earned the distinction of being the most biodiverse island in the Philippines. It serves as home to 40% of the country’s remaining mangrove areas, 35% of the country’s coral reefs, 17 biodiversity areas, 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Natural Park and the Tubbataha National Marine Park), and eight declared protected areas. It is also the provinces that houses one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

 

The variety of natural life found in this vast strip of greenery that is known as Palawan is unmatched anywhere in the Philippines. This is the reason why the National Geographic Traveler magazine hailed the province as the best island destination in the entire East and Southeast Asia, and the 13th best island in the world having “incredibly beautiful natural seascapes and landscapes” both in 2007.

 

Ten million signatures to save Palawan

Despite the presence of such a very rich and diverse natural culture, Palawan is also a very fragile piece of land, with a thin layer of topsoil that is prone to erosion and landslides. And with aggressive mining taking place in certain areas of Palawan, it will only be a matter of time before the whole island sinks into the sea and be forgotten as a once proud and pristine natural treasure.

 

If the Philippines were to lose Palawan, the country will not only lose a valuable and irreplaceable treasure. More significantly, it will lose one of the Earth’s most precious and beautiful legacy to the next generation.

This is the advocacy being championed by the “Save Palawan Movement” as it encourages Filipinos to help stop mining in Palawan and other key biodiversity areas in the country by joining the march towards 10 million signatures aimed at saving the Philippines’ last ecological frontier.

 

“Currently, there are about 15 ongoing mining operations in Palawan, according to the Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI). An even more shocking and outrageous fact is the number of pending mining applications in Palawan, which now stands at more than 100 as we speak,” says Gina Lopez, Managing Director of ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. “We have to note that contrary to what mining companies claim, the local mining industry only accounts for 1.3% of the country’s gross domestic product.”

 

In fact, a recent study conducted by UP School of Economics Dean Dr. Arsenio Balisacan reveals that of all the identified sectors, only mining had an increase in poverty incidence in a span of more than one decade from 27.84% in 1988 to 48.71% in 2009. This gives it the highest poverty incidence rating in 2009, followed by agriculture (47.92%).

 

This is just one of the recent details and researches that are set to be shared with campaign partners during the Save Palawan Movement General Assembly on November 21, 2011.

 

Also set to impart their knowledge and expertise during the said gathering are esteemed environmental scientists and researchers from Ateneo de Naga University and Ateneo de Manila University, led by Dr. Tony La Vina the head of the Ateneo School of governance, Dr. Boying Bautista and Atty. Gerthie Anda, who will be discussing the impact of mining to the economy;  Atty. Jean Feliciano on the livelihood of Indigenous People in Brooke’s Point in Palawan; and freelance documentary producer and director Bernie Lopez on the largest mining venture in the country that is threatening Mindanao provinces with a potential mega disaster and other environmental and tribal issues.

 

“This very important gathering not only aims to renew our commitments for Palawan’s cause but also to increase awareness and share the vision preserving the natural beauty of Palawan and all the other key biodiversity areas here in the Philippines,” shares Lopez.

 

“With the help of more Filipinos, we hope to be able to save Palawan by asking both the local and the national governments to say no to mining so that we can protect one of our last remaining treasures and give the future generations a more beautiful and livable environment.”

 

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