Thursday, 11 July 2013

Our bay ... is dying

Boat people … Families from neighboring coastal baranggays start arriving this morning in their “sibiran” for a quick swing at the stores around Mambulao to buy weekly provisions. In this shot taken towards the end of April this year, the people are parking their boats on the shoreline next to the popular Boardwalk just behind the Mambulao town hall.


Mud people … likewise nearby, the Mud Men begin to arrive with their gold-recovery paraphernalia, which features the notorious “asoge” (mercury) whose use as “gold retriever” has become common despite its being outlawed by the government and equally despised by the town mayor, Dong Padilla. You must be wondering why in this water, which is only about 6-8 inches deep, you can’t see the sand, a common scene in shallow bay waters in other beaches, say Bunog’s. The reason is that the sand, which used to be visible under shallow water many years ago, is now under red mud, the one making the beach water murky, courtesy of these two men and their cohorts whose only concern is to get the gold from the gold tailings under the water. Several meters offshore, at least eight boats with sluicing gear (kahon) are being manned by “kahoneros”. Towards noon, the men’s number would swell to between 20 and 50. Criminalized under the country’s mining laws if done outside a government-designated “Minahang Bayan” of which Mambulao is not, gold retrieval is a de facto livelihood for many Mambulaoans, making it a potent political argument for some to justify its being. Meanwhile, Mambulao Bay chokes and the community doesn’t seem to give a damn. The attitude prevailing now among many, especially those with gold-vested interests, is “live and let live … and let die”. – MWBuzzpics by APHernandez

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