Find us on Google+ Love Mindanao: Noventa: Highway of Beauty and Disaster (Tale of a Pitcher Plant)

Noventa: Highway of Beauty and Disaster (Tale of a Pitcher Plant)





The red mountain of Surigao
This story would be the most motionless entry I ever had. The general objective in writing my blog is to reveal and present the best of the Philippines but it is not limited to address issues that will put our beautiful destinations into peril.

On my first year of assignment in Mindanao, I was given a task to have a business meeting with the Philippine Port Authority (PPA) in Surigao City. That was the first time I landed at the gateway of Mindanao to the islands of Visayas . The provinces of Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte are among the places in the Philippines with dense forest cover on which underneath is a huge volume of nickel rich soil deposit suitable for mining. The mining industry in Surigao have been around for more than three decades now and with the passage of Philippine Mining Act of 1995,  more geological explorations were jointly pushed by foreign corporations and the Philippine government for the sake of “boosting” the economy.

The Red Broken Road

On my way back to Tandag City, I decided to use the Surigao-Noventa-Tandag route, shorter in distance but risky  at night and rainy season due to unstable slopes and unpaved slippery roads.

Noventa, the connecting road of Surigao del Norte and Sur
Traveling not too far from the city, I could already see the dust-filled air caused by the on-going large scale mining activities in the mountains of Surigao. Along the road, the air was unbearable and the general ambiance was filled with reddish soil particulates covering almost everything from houses, roads, bridges to rivers and even the clothes worn by the residents.

Noventa road starts at Km.90 connecting Surigao del Norte and  Surigao del Sur. The road was built mainly serving the 7 large scale mining operations dwelling in the red mountain of Surigao. The location of the mountain ridge is home to numerous pygmy trees and bushes that normally grow in steep and elevated environment.


Knowing the presence of mining operations in the area, I wasn’t expecting to see anything special other than dusts, dusts and more dusts. But my peaceful battle with dusts  suddenly shifted with worries and a bit of anger seeing the mine workers clearing the vegetation along the road that is home to nepenthes or pitcher plants, a carnivorous plant that feed on small animals.

My Precious!

N. merrilliana, recovered from the
road of Noventa
At first I thought it was just a regular common pitcher plant but when I got closer with the pitcher I noticed that it was huge as my head and not the common species I saw in my previous travels. I asked our driver to pull over on a wider road shoulder to look and investigate. The clearing was in connection with the expansion and widening of the road.

According to the workers they have to clear the vegetation to give way for the heavy machinery to collect the excess rocks and soil. I felt powerless for the very first time seeing this wonderful species of plant being discarded from its natural habitat to give way for the hauling trucks of mining companies.

I was in great dismay that pieces by pieces I picked up samples of the unfortunate individuals for identification purposes. My colleagues were looking at me like a crazy person grieving on cleared vegetation.


Are You Kidding Me?

Upon reaching our office, I took pictures of the pitcher and refer it to some plant experts I know from the web and it was confirmed that the pitcher was indeed a Nepenthes merrilliana, an endemic species from Surigao province. According to them, the plant is a sought after species since it produces some of the largest pitchers under this genus. 

This finding put me on a restless night wondering what will happen to the rest of its population if the widening of the road continues. It would be another disaster in the field of biodiversity if this species of plant will be wiped out entirely and would only be available on pictures and books to be enjoyed by the next generation. 

We have to be reminded that we enjoy and benefit from the by-products of nature because of the intricate web  interactions among its components. Each part makes up the whole and the whole is nothing without its parts.




Gallery:

Beautiful bushes grow along the road of noventa

Transporation mined nickel at the port

Barges collecting the soil from hauling trucks




32 comments :

  1. I just hope concerned authorities will read these. Thanks for this!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is really heartbreaking. I cant stop sighing. :( -Kai Zuleta

    ReplyDelete
  3. beyondoutdooradventuresAugust 4, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    There's money in mining, no doubt. But it's always mother nature that sacrifices. ASIN (the 80's band) is correct with their song "Kapaligiran" (if I'm not mistaken).


    I just hope that the new mining policy will have minimum impact on the environment.

    ReplyDelete
  4. heart-breaking. same feeling when i passed by this route. sayang yung pitcher plants. grabe talaga yang taganito mining na yan

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes to NO TO MINING in any part of the country, ang ganda ng Pinas para sirain!

    ReplyDelete
  6. it's all business and politics kasi ... if they could only impose zoning of the country's resource for which is which , mas maayos sana tau ang bansa and we are moving forward... takot kasi mawalan ng mga botante!

    ReplyDelete
  7. i think ang sagot jan ay proper zoning of country's top resources.... ayaw ng mga pulitiko kasi mawawalan ng mga botante..

    ReplyDelete
  8. sobrang dami ng mining company and operations ang naapprove jan , given with the current hold order because of EO 23 , nakapag apply pa rin sila ... gobyerno talaga !

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is really sad. It's hard to fight bad mining when the one's funding them are the same politicians we have in office and those who owns big corporations and owns our cellular systems.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ouch!..... Heartbreaking tlaga to Dens... :(( @sicath

    ReplyDelete
  11. wow. This is really interesting. My first time to about that pitcher plant. I did love the view of the Red Mountain but this species..hope it won't be affected with those constructions going on... Lucky you having the chance to see and hold on to one of the very rare species... :D

    ReplyDelete
  12. that was the evil of mining

    ReplyDelete
  13. I grieve with you. Oh how can they be so cruel and I don't mean just the pitcher plants. The place looks absolutely devastated :(

    ReplyDelete
  14. Good blog. This is a call to all that if we lost everything now what will happen to the next generation.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm really against to mining! Look at these mountains and seas, they're beautiful but mining is just ruining them. How in the world could stop them?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Years ago, we were almost closed a contract in Surigao it was a nickel-ore project. God didn't give us the project because He doesn't want us to become one of those people harassing the environment. I hope these people would realize that they are destroying the future of young generation by destroying the environment.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I hope they can preserve pa some pitcher plants. :I

    ReplyDelete
  18. whoah!! i never imagined to have a place like that here in Phil!! im hoping to see this in person someday.

    ReplyDelete
  19. wow amazing pitcher plant so huge. love this place and wish to see it someday.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Agree with you there brother, ron.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I seriously hope that the mining facilities there don't do too much damage to the area, especially in the waters. It would be a waste. As for the pitcher plant, I wonder if it would grow here in Manila? That's going to be one nifty plant to have in the kitchen. A natural way to deal with pests at home. :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. i was scared a bit the first time i saw the pic wondering what it is...hehe but id does resemble the largest flower in world.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Great shots, Interesting huge pitcher.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This story is so sad but one that must be told and shared until government officials and the community take better care of the environment. We are losing biodiversity grrrr.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm from Surigao del Sur and its sad to see this happening in our place after the mining Surigao will never be the same again....

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is very sad po... maybe when you're in the area again you can ask the workers which vegetation they are going to clear next so you can check out if there are exotic flora and if there are, maybe you can relocate them to safer spots po...

    ReplyDelete
  27. It's a huge task for an individual , and I am very far from the place. . monitoring should be done by the local government and the DENR and also the companies themselves... that is the UGLY truth !

    ReplyDelete
  28. I just found another blog entry about this place: http://journeyingjames.com/2012/08/surigao-nature-fuck-the-most-depressing-road-trip-ever thanks to jouneyingjames


    I found the one comment supporting the destruction funny: "those mountains aint worth shit and no plants or trees of any value will grow on those because of its high mineral content... you should have taken a longer road trip to meet those indigenous people the mamanua tribe riding on D-MAX and HILUX trucks going to the city to eat in jollibee – proceeds of their royalty shares from mining."


    -- What about the ridiculous 2% tax collections and the miners on the ground on permanent contractual status with no benefits? Luxury SUVs and eating in Jollibee a sign of progress? Really? I ROFLMAO

    ReplyDelete