Look at what’s happening to the Philippines in general. On average we lose around 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year. And that was more than a decade ago. Given that the Philippines’ total land area (which means it doesn’t include the seas between our islands) is 30 million hectares it may seem small—0.15% of it in fact.
WAIT! Bet you almost stopped reading.
Let’s put it this way. 47,000 hectares is 4,700 SM Megamalls, or 1,958 Ayala Centers Cebu, or 4,896 Victoria Plaza Malls. That’s A LOT of forest.
Wasn’t that second description easier to understand?
The phenomenon we call miscommunication
It’s happening between us and environmental science right now. With the recent Taal eruption, we saw terms like “phreatic eruption” or “downwind” or “pyroclastic flow.”
Well, for your information, here’s what those terms meant:
Steam eruption, like how a pot full of water or a pressure cooker would overflow when it gets too hot. Or when you hold your feelings in for too long.
Is the direction the wind is blowing. So if the news says you live downwind of the ashfall, consider using face masks for the time being. (Pro-tip: Standard surgical masks will do fine, unless you’re going out of the house. Let your crush know).
It’s lava and everything else that spews out of a volcano moving downhill really fast, like your last relationship. JUST KIDDING.
To mere, non-science mortals like most of us (or at least those of us who didn’t really pay attention in our high school science classes), we wouldn’t know what those terms meant unless we went out of our way to look it up.
In all seriousness though, you experience things differently as an observer and as the one going through the thing altogether.
When you see the phrase “47,000 hectares of forest cover,” to you it’s a big piece of land, but to someone who relies on the forest for food and shelter, or for a lot of the Philippines’ flora and fauna, it’s their lives being taken away before their very eyes.
The devil is in the details
Or in this case, the important parts are in the details. It’s one thing to visit a place and another to live there altogether. Each island on our archipelago has a different way of life, as seen on a lot of different tourism videos, or on your friends’ IG stories as they go about their vacations on our island paradises.
When the government closed down Boracay, to most of us, who were just visitors only had one less destination to go for our holiday trips, but for the people living there, they lost income, livelihood, and business.
When Taal erupted, or even Mayon a few years back (yes it’s still on alert right now), a lot of us went about our days as usual, but those living closest to the volcanoes had to put their whole lives on hold and hope that the worst will come to pass without harm befalling them.
When it comes to environmental reporting, sometimes it gets so cold and impersonal, but that’s because it’s scientific. Science will give you all the facts and observable details. It’s up to you to start a conversation with people from the area to know how they’re really affected.
Real time, real talk
While Taal and Mayon are fairly recent, deforestation is a decades-old problem we’ve had in the Philippines that seems to have lost a lot of steam in terms of mileage and buzz. We weren’t exaggerating when we said that we’re losing 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year.
And by 2036, it’s projected that we wouldn’t have any forests at all.
Because of this we have partnered with Forest Foundation to empower young minds like you to speak up. This March, we’re holding a workshop in Bukidnon that’s open to college students who want to learn more and maybe lead their own local communities to take action together.
If you’re interested, shoot us an email at [email protected] with the subject Forest Foundation X Edukasyon Workshop for more details.
Don’t have time for the workshop, but you have a lot of ideas? You could also send in thought pieces or opinions! Let’s work together to put your voice out there because we want to know what you think, feel, or want to do!
- The Philippine Star. Gaea Cabico. (2018, March 4). Recovering the Philippines’ Forest Cover. Retrieved from https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/03/04/1793446/recovering-philippines-forest-cover
- Food and Fertilizer Technology Center for the Asian and Pacific Region. (n.d.). Agriculture in the Philippines. Retrieved from http://www.fftc.agnet.org/view.php?id=20110705103721_764767
- Rappler. (2020, January 13). Partly False: Mayon Volcano Status ‘raised’ To Alert Level 2. Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/fact-check/249194-mayon-volcano-status-raised-alert-level-2