4×4 Auto Enthusiasts Join Mt Balagbag Environmentalists in #ReforestTheRoad Project
2 of the Philippines 4×4 extreme adventure enthusiasts LJ Sarao and Rafael Oca just recently collaborated with (BESI) Balagbag Environmental Society Incorporated together with Sir Fredd Ochavo of UP Mountaineers and other mountaineering groups, local government agencies and private personalities in helping reforest the roads or Mt Balagbag leading to the recovery of Ipo Watershed. Sir Fredd by the way is the person responsible for me becoming a volunteer in the area. The event happened July 28, 2018 at Mt Balagbag reforestation area near summit and is organized and spear headed with the help of CENRO and PENRO (Guiguinto Bulacan) and environmental advocate, Jeff Reyes, the person responsible for all the time-consuming effort in terms of coordination, permits, seedling requests to CENRO Guiguinto Bulacan, volunteer pooling, itinerary, food and all. Some of the purposes of this prestigious rare life-changing event in the history of Philippine nature conservation are stated below.
- Defy Deforestation
- Help in providing a cleaner and safer drinking water to Metro Manila and make its residents be informed about the dangers to the possibility of losing clean household water due to illegal logging and other hazards brought about by deforestation and destruction of our forest biodiversity.
- Consolidate all available help as possible in completing, maintaining and funding this prestigious project.
- Let the government know including the MWSS, local DENR and other functioning agencies of the current administration how important the role of the local “Bantay Gubat” is not just in Balagbag but all over the country. This small forest security group currently needs a regular funding and livelihood projects to compensate for their effort to guard the forests of Ipo, encourage the recruitment of more volunteers, provide a means of livelihood to local residents and make them the primary beneficiary of the said project. As of now, it is more urgent and of primary concern that immediate funding comes in the form of small basic salary to help their families live their day-to-day life and sustain their need for budget in their daily forest routines.
- Help in getting a MOA signed which primarily aims to help local volunteers get their small salary given to them on a regular and updated basis to encourage rigid ground work and prevent efforts to hinder reforestation efforts. As of the writing of this article it is learned by the blogger that the “Bantay Gubat” volunteers have not received their compensation of up to 6 months (or so).
- To encourage help from different Philippine government agencies, environmental enthusiasts and volunteers in the urgency of dissemination or spreading the need for information and funding to fast track Mt Balagbag #reforesttheroad project in an effort to restore the now degrading biodiversity in the area.
- Encourage more volunteers from the 4×4 community in the Philippines (and concerned organizations) and get help from these uniquely amazing guys and their one-0f-a-kind vehicles and realize the need for their support and physical presence in other upcoming projects. Also to encourage adding a progressive purpose to their extreme adventures which is a very good dual fun and added excitement apart from just being a hobby. Our heartfelt thank you to Sir LJ Sarao and Sir Rafael Oca for volunteering and initiating help is using their vehicles on a “4×4 trail exploration with a purpose” and for having the heart to help daze through the rugged terrains of Mt Balagbag just to bring and plant the narra seedlings to the reforestation areas Mt Balagbag which the group was enthrusted with the help of CENRO and PENRO officials in Guiguinto, Bulacan (Sir .
- Create a clear mindset for all mountaineers, hikers, trekkers and outdoor adventure enthusiasts on the importance of using one of Basic Mountaineering Course principles – LNT (“leave no trace“) and make us all responsible in maintaining all biodiversity in the mountains.
- For the benefit of Metro Manila, residents, this project also aims to inform Manilenyos that deep in the heart of the Sierra Madre mountain range, Ipo Watershed (not Ipo Dam in particular) is one of Manila’s primary source of potable drinking water today and that it deserves their help.
Hence, above all these, the importance of this collaboration centers in reforestation efforts and in informing the local and national government agencies responsible for environment protection, environmentalists, Manila residents, mountaineers and hikers, environmental organizations, locals of Balagbag as well as the drinking public about the importance of this prestigious and hard-to-accomplish project to rehabilitate the deforested and literally bald areas of the watershed. In this, the group responsible for spear heading this event is calling for unity, understanding and help from all concerned.
This rare joining of forces happened under the initiative of BESI, 4×4 enthusiasts and with the help of Guiguinto, Bulacan local government offices in the name of CENRO and PENRO through proper coordination with the local Mt Balagbag barangay and with the very needed help of the local “Bantay Gubat” and its locals.
This project was actually started on July 17, 2016 headed by Balong Dela Cruz and Aiji Marie to protest the illegally constructed roads that encroached the Ipo Watershed and put to a dangerous state of threat, the clean water source of Metro Manila residents today.
Sam Casuncad – blogger / mountaineer for environmental protection and restoration and safekeeping of Philippine mountains biodiversity