Protect and Preserve Our Seacoast: NO to the Poro YRP Seawall/Reclamation Project

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Poro, Cebu

November 14, 2017

 

The Honorable Mayor Luciano D. Rama, Jr.

Municipal Mayor

Poro, Camotes, Cebu

 

Our sincere greetings and respect to our good Mayor of Poro. Our highest gratitude likewise for spending time to read this letter containing our thoughts and sentiments regarding a matter very important to us as sons, daughters and citizens of this humble town. 

            First of all, please understand that we are NOT a political group, nor a militant one.  We are just ordinary and peaceful Porohanon folks bonded by a common love for our town and having strong concern for our environment and natural surroundings.

            We are sad and troubled by the recent development we see and hear, albeit unclear, about your plans for our municipality especially that affecting Eastern Poblacion.  It has come to our awareness, the LGU-sponsored  Yolanda Reconstruction Program – whether it is a seawall/wavebreaker as you stated,  or  a reclamation program (as some town officials claimed) still gives us confusion.  Either way, this  project will directly and harmfully hit our Hunasan and the marine  area fronting our town proper. We feel it is imperative to have a serious look about this issue and the devastating impact of this plan on our sea coasts and aquatic environment and resources.

            We have nothing against development Mr. Mayor, especially that of a well-thought, efficient and enduring development plan. We, for so long, have placed our hopes  and expectation from your leadership the multi-dimensional progress of our town – be it industrial/economic, political/social or ecological.   Sadly however, your development plan seems to forget or disregard another equally important aspect which is environmental stewardship and sustainability.  As your plan involves the destruction of our natural resources and heritage like our tidal flats (hunasan), then allow us to  express vehemently our DISAPPROVAL  of it.  For a land development to be reasonable and well-balanced, it should give utmost consideration and respect to the natural environment.  Improving the local environmental conditions should be done with the future generations in mind. 

We therefore petition to stop the Yolanda Reconstruction Program.   We don’t want any further demolition and damage done to our Hunasan.  Enough already of the abuse and punishment our Hunasan has been subjected to by human disregard.  It is deplorable enough that our seashores has deteriorated over the years due to carelessness, abuse and neglect.  Marine resources and species especially in the  coastline of Eastern Poblacion is substantially degraded and depleted due to the coastal reclamation you have helped build.

The unfinished reclamation site, fruitless as it looks, has already reduced our tidal flats by a sizeable amount.  Wildlife habitat in this area is ruined, the natural shoreline is eroded, and beach equilibrium has been greatly compromised.  Incidentally, litters and trash float inward  between the coastal houses and the reclamation structure leaving a stinking and unpleasant sight.  We’re seeing a bigger threat once the imminent extension project pushes through as it accommodates additional infrastructure, population growth, social problems (inevitably to mention crime, prostitution, drugs, et.al.)  and dreadful pollution of all forms and the health problems that go with them.   We  anticipate  the worst, and that is the tranquility and peace of our island, with its clear, clean, pristine sea gravely compromised.  You will not be so affected Mr. Mayor, because you do not reside along this area like we do.

Our thoughts on the economic situation should you finally push through with the reclamation/ land expansion, is packed with questions and apprehension in our mind:  will it truly benefit the many native Porohanons?  Will it accommodate a heterogeneous work force without political exclusiveness or discrimination?  Or will it not favor only a few people who will profit from business contractors and outside investors?

Conversely, we have, yet, to manage and solve the problems regarding basic services such as electricity/power distribution, water system, waste management, sanitation, health services, etc.  These are more important issues worth looking into.  Honestly, do our town really have the capacity to respond effectively to a bigger demand? 

            On the other hand, our humble Hunasan, which  is the victim of  your development plan, has been in existence for eons of years.  It is a  God-given gift.  As a natural buffer zone accommodating rising sea levels, it has protected us from rough seas and numerous storms.  It has a high level of biodiversity with a vast array of species calling it home.  As an ecosystem of geological structures, it remains still a rich habitat supporting marine life performing its vital ecological role, which in turn benefits us Porohanons in countless of ways since time immemorial.

            As a natural heritage, we inherited the Hunasan from past generations who preserved it for our benefit.  We are today its safe-keeper, the guardians ensuring that we preserve and restore this ecological legacy and bestow this treasure to our future generation for their experience of wonderment and joy. Acknowledging, caring and protecting the nature He created for us is the highest manifestation of respect we can give Him for this gift.

            As a cultural heritage, the Hunasan is a relevant part of our life as islanders.  As children, it has been our playground for recreation; our science and discovery laboratory,   our clinic for wellness and health restoration; our food for the soul.  For many of us, especially the fishermen and gleaners, it has been our banquet as we feast on its vast harvest and our source of honest livelihood.  It has been a highlight of visit for our families vacationing home, to wade again in its waters and rekindle familiar affiliations.  But most importantly, it is our front-row seat as we view, marvel and commune with nature.

            We grew closer as a community because of our collective fondness for our Hunasan.  It is part of who we are and we’re closer in relationship with God because of our propinquity with the nature He created for us Porohanons.  It is a  divine grace and opportunity that  we are raised here in this very island,  so  that we may be so near with nature and be  happy co-existing and  enjoying the company of His other creations.  Not everybody is so blessed to have this for an experience.   For this alone, we feel very fortunate, bkessed and grateful.

            One perhaps like you, can never value and appreciate what we have cherished in our Hunasan, Mr. Mayor.   Like some of our other townmates who are so detached, indifferent and cruel to this cause inclined to dismiss our argument as mere sentiments, we can just shake our heads and feel sorry for such cold hearts.  Perhaps because you have never set foot on our Hunasan to appreciate our marine environment nor  attempt to know  all about life in our seas.  We suggest you go see for yourself, Mr. Mayor.    Our island may be small, but we are seeing a lot. 

Your plan of building a seawall/wavebreaker   to protect the town proper seems moot if not futile.   It may not also be cost effective with the structure protecting the houses on the waterfront  temporarily and not for long.    We will continuously spend money to maintain this structure and to correct the environmental damage caused by it.  And again, the construction  will still be destroying  our tidal flats , habitat of our marine life.

In all of these mentioned, we appeal to you again Mr. Mayor, PLEASE spare our Hunasan from further destruction - needless to say that such destruction  is against the moral ethics of  God as it is of men.  We are asking you to save what is left of it and to preserve and restore it in its natural state. 

            As we adhere to your thrust for Poro to be a heritage town, may we remind you Mr. Mayor, that our small municipality is already uniquely beautiful as it is.  It is useless and pathetic to compare our town with other towns.  We uphold our own dignity as we believe in our own competence -  all we have to do is to look at what we can distinctively offer.    We are a heritage town as you have proclaimed, may we also keep our heritage treasures intact.  Our Hunasan is  a significant part of the town.   It is integral to our  town’s physical landscape giving it  a unique identity, beauty,  and distinctiveness .  We need to  have more understanding and appreciation of how rich our coastlines are so that we could work for its protection and preservation.

May we suggest therefore, that we invite more scientific studies and consultation with environmental specialists, development planners and coastal engineers for a more viable and sustainable coastal management plan.  Perhaps our town will be enhanced aesthetically, with a more effective eco-friendly preservation strategies rather than taking part of the damaging process of shrinking our natural resources by constructing concrete, artificial or superficial structures.

May we also explore the prospect of eco-tourism or nature-based tourism taking advantage of the unspoiled beauty of our natural surroundings.  Thus, economic development  goes side by side with good environment practices brought about by sustainable development approaches.  With this, we are also nurturing our children especially in teaching and educating them to value, to honor, to be kind, to be respectful and caring for their natural land and marine resources.  Our children will embrace and internalize the lessons well if they see us adults and leaders to be role models of positive intentions and actions.

            This is the prayer we cry in this letter of appeal, Mr. Mayor.  We hope that you find it in your heart that we are actually with you in your goals for a greater Poro. Nonetheless a development goal that is NEVER at the expense of our beautiful natural environment.

 We thank you in advance for any time and consideration you may be able to extend to this appeal.  Wishing you all the best especially for the coming Holidays and May God bless you.

Respectfully,

 

We the Concerned People of Poro, Cebu , for the Protection and Preservation of Our Hunasan

Crying NO to the YRP Seawall/Reclamation Project

 



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