Environmentalists celebrate with Lumad in Tipolog

Oct. 02, 2007

Environmentalists are yet again scaling up Mt. Tipolog, known as the countrys lost volcano found in Barangay Tawan-Tawan, Baguio District, as their way of celebrating the generosity of the mountain to the residents of the area especially to the lumad (indigenous peoples).

This is in time for the celebration of October as the Indigenous Peoples Month.

Jumar Bolo, senior organizer of the group Kinaiyahan Amomahon, Ubanan ug Bantayan (Kauban), said their climb on October 5-7 is hoped to generate more awareness of the importance of Mt. Tipolog as the primary source of livelihood of the lumad while at the same time pushing for its protecting against aggressive forms of developments.

Mt. Tipolog is identified as a high groundwater recharge area by Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). It is a major contributor to the Dumoy aquifers and is part of the headwater for the Panigan-Tamugan River , Davao s future source of drinking water.

With an elevation of 1,340 meter (4,396 feet) above sea level, Mt. Tipolog is roughly one-third the height of Mt. Apo , the countrys highest mountain. Mt. Tipolog , however, is a lot older than Mt. Apo according to the DENR.

The abundance of Mt. Tipolog has been helping the lumad in terms of livelihood and agriculture and knowing this, the people there are aware that the mountain must be protected against intrusions that will only mean destruction on the natural landscape and the resources that feed them, Bolo said.

It is important for the public to know about this especially with the looming entry of certain developments that will only in the end cause the destruction of the mountain, Bolo said.

He was referring to reports about the supposed plan of a local businesswoman to apply for a community integrated forest management agreement (CIFMA) for a portion of Mt. Tipolog . This is in the face of the pending application of the lumad tillers of the area for a community-based forest management agreement (CBFMA).

Bolo said the situation of the lumad in Mindanao today could very well tell of their experience as groups of people abused and oppressed in the past.

“Our lumad brothers and sisters are now suffering because of the greediness of some people over the wealth of the mountains and the forests. We know how the lumad were dislocated from their ancestral lands because of developments that only benefited a few people,” Bolo said.

Past climbs in Mt. Tipolog exposed environmentalists to the traces of intensive logging operations in the area as evidenced by bald slopes and large logging roads.

As people living in the lowlands, we believe and fully support the efforts of the lumad living at the foot of Mt. Tipolog to develop the area according to their culture and tradition. We will climb Tipolog as a way of protesting against efforts of few people to milk money from the environment while the lumad are left out in poverty, Bolo said.

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