Campaign on to save ‘cleanest’ river in PH
MANILA, Philippines–The Cantingas River, which meanders to its headwaters on Mt. Guiting-guiting, supplies 90 percent of Sibuyan Island’s electricity, showing the rest of the world how a small island-community benefits from renewable energy.
The natural hydroelectric power source, found on the remote island of Romblon, was featured in the fourth “24 Hours of Reality,”an annual multimedia show about the global climate crisis live-streamed from New York City.
This year, the show ran from 12 noon on Sept. 16 (Eastern Daylight Time, or 12 a.m. on Sept. 17 in Manila), with the segment showing the Philippines’ Cantingas River on the 11th hour, or 10 a.m. on Sept. 17 in Manila.
It is an initiative under The Climate Reality Project, a global campaign founded by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore in 2006.
The segment on Cantingas River, titled “Field report: at the river camp in the Philippines,”is a 10-minute video about Sibuyan’s clean energy “success story.”
Environmentalist and Climate Reality Leadership Corps district manager Rodne Galicha was seen scooping a cup of water directly from the river to show that it was not only a source of energy but of clean, potable water as well.
The video was live-streamed simultaneously at Colegio de San Juan de Letran and De La Salle College-St. Benilde, both in Manila, garnering 10 million online live views.
In the Philippines, 67 percent of rivers are “too polluted [to be used] for domestic use” while 10 percent are considered “biology dead,” Galicha said in the video.
The Cantingas River, on the other hand, has been deemed the “cleanest inland body” by the Philippine government since 2007.
Since 2010, the entire Sibuyan Island (composed of Cajidiocan, San Fernando and Magdiwang towns) draws power from the river through a hydropower plant that generates 900 kilowatts for 57,000 users.
“We used to be with Napocor (National Power Corp.) but whenever there are strong typhoons and the barge supposedly carrying fuel cannot dock, the whole island would lose electricity,” Galicha said.
“We want to send a message that if we, a small island, can do it, why not the rest of the country?” Galicha said in a phone interview.
On Thursday, students, village leaders and religious groups headed to the river outflow in the City of San Fernando for the launch of an island-wide campaign to preserve the Cantingas River.
They planted 25 ironwood trees, lit 25 candles and shared 25 kagabkab (a kind of fried cassava crackers) along the riverbanks. This happened days before the International Mining Conference was held, when Sibuyan renewed its stand against mining.
“The ironwood symbolizes our resiliency while the kagabkab, food security,” Galicha said.
Twenty-five symbolizes the usual length of years a mining permit issued to companies lasts.
In 2011, the provincial government issued a moratorium against all forms of mining. The local government also suspended existing mining permits, including that of Canadian Altai Mining, for the exploration of 1,580 hectares in Sibuyan.
“Our stand is for a total revocation of the mining permit,” Galicha said.
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