Friday, 4 June 2010

Our mother the Cordillera

I arrived in my village in the night time, after a dreary day's ride on the mountain trail.
once upon a trail-ride dreary
I could not see it but the pungent stench of smoke hanging in the air was a frontal assault on my senses. This all but dashed the expectation of being welcomed home by the sweet and pure mountain air spiced by the warm waft of the steam from the hotsprings.

The following morning showed up this lethal toxic invasion. Smoke hung in the air blocking off the pleasant views to the mountains.

My world was literally turned upside down! This was the opposite of my expectations.

I stared hard into the distance. The sun was shining up in the cloudless summer sky, but even that could not penetrate the gloom.

I went for a walk up to the hill called Sagang overlooking the village.

The pall lifted a bit and the sight of an old friend - the pure clean white steam - rising up from the hotspring moved me. It was like a beacon of hope, a symbol of stoic hardiness – unconquerable.

I looked around and my gaze just got shrouded, not from the smoke that i see in the distant mountains, but from the tears in my heart.

Our mother the mountains are being ravaged.

I could not look away. I had to suffer as the mountains the forests the trees, our home our mother nature died in front of me.
Part of me died that day.

I grieve for the fields that suffer and will die for lack of water, the streams that run no more, the granaries that will stay empty at harvest time, the blueberries that will not grow and ripen for the kids to pick, the mudfish, the snail, the frog, the birds the everything the all things not bright not beautiful.

I fixed my gaze on it for a long time helpless as an infant pine just pushing out of the ground - never to scale and never to grace the great grand heights-

I retreated to a spot where i can be a wide-eyed witness to this excruciating execution.

I did not know it at the time but the chain wire in front of me now appears as a prison shackling me like an inutile prisoner of my own demons...

One day i went for a walk to get away from the depressing desolation.

It did not get any better.

The hills are alive with the noise - the death rattle of the sticks as they crackle and blaze to death. the mournful whoosh of the pines as they fall.

The mature pines are not spared.

Those big enough to hold sap at the base of their trunks are now destined to fall.

I lost my way many times. And not for not knowing where to go.

Rather because the fires have obliterated the trails that lead to the mountains, to the fields, and to home.

Whole mountains have been rendered to ash and cinders.

Through all that i stumbled home sad and sorry and it was not just for myself.

In the evening i settled down to rest.

But the familiar noise of crackles and burning lodged deep in my dreams. I woke with a start and realised it was not a dream – it’s a nightmare! The fires are there.

Looking out the window i saw not a bad dream, but a terrible reality. The apparition of fires circling and suffocating the dense pine groves in the gloomy distance.

The burning season went on into the night... and into the following day, and night, the day after and night of that day, and for days and nights thereafter.

A respite a few days later.

Some rains came.

But the embers smoulder away.

Now the extent of damage is clear.

Scarred forever, the mountains weep no more...

They have shared joyful tears in decades past - and those times were the good times for the fields, the creeks, the people - for all things bright and beautiful...

Now just a distant memory.

And still another fire starts on the other side of town.

We don’t die in a blaze after all.
We die slowly...
For we’re a long time dead...
and the sun will rise soon on the false and the fair
singin' too - ra - loo - ra - li - o.

click below for a HD video of this post
with stereo music
our mother the mountain


  1. I can do nothing but empathize with you. I saw the same scenarios when I pay my last respect to my father. The mountains were not as green as they are when we were young but are now shining with silver metals (houses) and vegetable plantations. Worst, kaingin seems to be practice in the region.

    I wonder what we could do to help ease the situation. Will we just watch and let our hearts cry while our beloved place is ravaged by this so called "modernization" and ever growing population?

  2. i cant help but react to this sad news....i have a suspicion that the burning was done by the kaingin-eros.dont you think so?


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