Travelling opens your eyes to different eventualities in the world, one of which is the efforts environmental protection.
I wasprivileged to have been invited to a special gathering by one of the premiereenvironmentalist in the country and executive director of Kitanglad IntegratedNGOs, Easterluna Luz Canoy. I was familiar with the indigenous people ofBukidnon and their annual gathering during Kaamulan, but it never occurred tome that a gathering to celebrate the people and efforts behind the protectionof Mount Kitanglad range ever existed.
Aldaw taKitanglad is a joint effort with the LGUs surrounding the mountain range.Consisting of 7 municipalities and 1 city, Kitanglad guard volunteers, LGUofficials, stakeholders and guests came to the gathering in Brgy. Kibenton torekindle the passion to protect, preserve and educate people about themagnificence of Mount Kitanglad. As a descendant from one of the tribes orindigenous people of Bukidnon, it was heart warming to see people, my people,to be as one in the simplest of gatherings.
The event harnesses political will and the local’s urge to practice responsible ecotourism and environmental activities in the area.
The Kitanglad guard volunteers or otherwise known as KGVs are made up of 80% indigenous people that serve in the frontlines of environmental protection of the area.
The mountain was established as an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2009, Mount Kitanglad’s 47, 270 hectares of protected area is in the hands of these people and the council of elders. With an estimate of only 500 pesos (if from a municipality) and 1000 pesos (if from a city) as honorarium for these people, I personally would like to call out the corporations, individuals and people with compassion for the environment to support these people and their cause.
If our protected areas were destroyed for luxury and comfort, nature has proven time and time again that it will always ask for its due. It is without question that we must do more than just tree planting or outreach programs, but a pledge to help these people in whatever way we can.
The event was also graced upon by 2 Indonesian park directors, Mr. Agusbudi Santosa and Muhammad Wahyudi who were invited by For. Daniel Somera (Protected Area Superintendent of Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park). Mayor Anthony Uy and Vice Mayor Norly Pepito’s hospitality towards the guests have established rapport and will be beneficial in future environmental projects. Department of Tourism Region 10 Director May Salvaña Unchuan graciously received the park directors over lunch and pointed out the drive of sustainable eco tourism in the region.
The region pushes the envelope in ecological, cultural and environmental sustainment alongside proper tourism practices.
Gazing upon the peak of Kitanglad and I was filled with awe, its mystery is shrouded by the clouds which swirl and dance in its heights. Its majesty and strength; hidden beneath blue hues. As a travel photographer, I have seen things that have moved me and this was one of them. From ridge to reef, the importance of protecting this land is a primary concern.
Let us learn from the mistakes of recent years and implicate upon ourselves that our resources are limited and must be conserved to sustain future generations.
One must view Aldaw ta Kitanglad beyond the indigenous sports, the pageant, the festivities or the contests, it is a sincere congregation of people who look forward to pass down to the next generations the beauty of their area.
Outsider, local or foreign, this is a call to action to support the people who protect our environment. The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth.