INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON

Runners launch ‘Takbundukan’ to save mountains

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Some 30 runners led by activist priest Robert Reyes staged “Takbundukan” around Mt. Banahaw on Friday and over the weekend as part of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) program to save the country’s mountains and the environment.

“We conduct this activity to stress the importance of saving our natural resources. The monsoon rains that inundated Metro Manila and other provinces do not merely remind us of (Tropical Storm) ‘Ondoy’. It reminds us that something drastic and concrete has to be done to save our mountains,” Reyes said by phone on Saturday.

According to Salud Pangan, park superintendent for Banahaw and the Mt. San Cristobal Protected Landscape, the project promotes the national greening program with emphasis on watershed protection and proper solid waste management.

Most parts of the 2,177-meter Banahaw, which spans 11,133 hectares, remain restricted to the public as the mountain recovers from decades of environmental degradation.

Reyes, popularly known as the “running priest,” is known for initiating marathons to raise public awareness about social and political issues.

Takbundukan kicked off in Pagsanjan town in Laguna and stopped for the night in Liliw town. The next day, it resumed its run-up to San Pablo City, also in Laguna. On Sunday, Reyes and other runners from the DENR and nongovernment groups, ran from San Pablo to Dolores town, the gateway to Banahaw, in Quezon.

After a brief stopover, they headed for Sariaya, another town known for quarry operations at the foot of the mountain.

“Actually, the activity was not all running. If the distance is too far, the runners rode in vehicles and only started the run a few kilometers to the target destination,” Reyes explained.

Reyes said they distributed running canes (tungkod), seedlings of native trees and the “Kartilya ng Kalikasan” to local officials during stopovers. The Kartilya contains words of wisdom to create awareness about discipline among Filipinos.

“But deeper than the lack of discipline is the alienation from nature that manifests itself through a lack of love, concern and care for the earth. Wrong belief systems; attitudes and bad habits need to be recognized and transformed. More than prayer, we need deep and lasting conversion,” he said.

The canes are symbols of three virtues—sacrifice and commitment, shepherding and stewardship, and discipline, he added.

“The native trees are an expression of an openness and readiness to save our mountains by planting more and more trees,” Reyes said. Delfin T. Mallari Jr.

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