THE FORESTS OF DUPAX may not have been discovered to be habitat to charismatic wildlife such as the Philippine eagle, the tamaraw, the tarsier, and the mouse deer. But such lack might as well have been filled by the presence, as mentioned, of the Ilongots whose daring and jungle skills could put them at par with the Apache Indians.
It didn’t take long, however, when we got problems we had not encountered before.
For instance, our abung-abung (farm huts) where earlier anyone was welcome to seek shelter when caught by darkness or thunderstorms, started to lose their resident salt, rice kettle, and even firewood. Cornfields and peanut farms whose produce have yet to be tasted by their owners suddenly had significant quantities of their edible parts missing.
Where during the pre-logging years our rivers never got murky, a few years after logging started our favorite fishing spots got totally obliterated when chocolate-colored water spilled out of the erstwhile placid rivers and either covered its path with silt or washed away bamboo clumps and nibbled at vegetable farms and ricefields by the riverside.
I wrote an essay many years ago for Focus Philippines and the Forestry Digest about such price we people of Dupax had to pay for allowing our once thick and verdant forests to be ransacked by non-natives. I was still looking for a wife at the time, but I already felt a sense of big lose then for my would-be kids and other children who stood to be deprived of their forest heritage, so I titled my essay “No More Poems for My Children.”
There was once a movie that expounded on the wonders of “paying forward” or passing on to others whatever good things another person did for you. How I wish people whose childhood lives had been happily entwined to forests could apply that beautiful concept to the conservation of our natural ecosystems.
As it is, however, things are not yet the way we would like them to be. Henry David Thoreau, my favorite nature writer and himself a forest dweller (when Walden Pond was still sylvan and biodiversity-rich), had a similar lament: “Each more melodious note I hear brings this reproach to me, that I alone afford the ear what would the music be.”