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February 17, 2006


empress maruja

It's sad to hear tragic news after tragic news in the Philippines. I mean, the Philippines only gets noticed on CNN and Fox News on awful situations such as these. Anyway, while La Presidenta is creating a "multi-agency task force" to investigate what happened, foreign analysts already have a conclusion: too many coconut trees on the mountains. Coco trees have shallow roots and can't hold much soil. Well, that news definitely taken our attention away (and eventually forget) as to who is at fault at the Wowowee Stampede.


I hate to criticize my host country. Let me just say that many of those disasters and tragedies could/can be avoided.

In a few months time, it will be back to business as usual. We all know that NOTHING will change in the attitude of our leaders and the people...

Yes, I have problems to understand the Filipino psyche.


I’m not sure how much of what happened at Guinsaugon is a uniquely Philippine disaster—to me this is more about managing risk, which has to be done everywhere. What is an acceptable degree of risk?

People should not have been living in such a dangerous place as Guinsaugon, but they shouldn’t be living on the San Andreas fault or in central Honshu either. Does that mean LA and Tokyo should be moved? After a disaster, it is easy to see what might have been done to prevent it; before it, taking decisions based a balance of probabilities is very difficult. Imagine if someone told you that you had to give up all your physical and social capital (your home, your land, your friends) and move somewhere else because of something that might never happen. It’s not hard to see how you might strongly resent that.

We all live our lives on certain risk assumptions. I drive a car because, although I know it might kill me in a particularly horrible way, when I weigh the chances of that happening versus the inconvenience of relying on an alternative mode of transport I figure I will take that chance. Risk taking is an essential element of life, but it wouldn’t be a risk if it didn’t sometimes come true.

Empress – I agree that the coconut trees are a factor, but perhaps less so than either the extremely heavy rainfall that preceded the landslide or the unstable geology of the region. Maybe all three were needed to make the disaster happen. Still, without denying the desperate need for the Philippines to end all logging and to start replanting forests, I think we have to be realistic too. The Philippines is the world’s second largest producer of coconut products (after Indonesia). About 25% of all cultivated land is given over to coconuts. As the infamous Coco Levy Fund showed, the people who rely on the coconut industry are the poorest of the poor. We’re not going to get rid of these trees, though perhaps some way may be found of mixing land use—coconut trees and trees with deeper roots.

When it comes right down to it, the underlying cause is not rainfall, or geology, or coconuts. It’s overpopulation. The people who oppose birth control in the Philippines are going to have to take a long hard look at how their dogma forces people to live in marginal and dangerous places like Guinsaugon. Yet will they give it a moment’s thought? What do you think?

Finally I agree with Empress and Sydney that the only winners from the Guinsaugon tragedy are the people responsible for Wowwowee, which is already fade into the Philippine disaster memory, replaced by the greater tragedy in southern Leyte.


DENR experts also said that the natural forest cover of southern Leyte, which would have helped prevent erosion, had been replaced to a large extent by coconut plantations since the 1920s.

I guess you already did the trip from Mnl to Infanta. When you look at those naked mountains you understand the extend of the problem.

In many places the natural forest cover dissapeared due to (illegal?)logging.
You don't fool around with nature unpunished.


The environmentalist group Greenpeace said the government should take action against continuous logging in mountainous areas in the country to prevent another tragedy.

In a statement, Von Hernandez, Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaign director, said there had been warnings that the combined threats of destructive logging and an increase in extreme weather events caused by climate change would intensify the impact of disasters like last Friday’s landslide.

"The combined threats of destructive logging and climate change should be taken seriously by the Philippine government. The scale and frequency of similar tragedies in the past should have, and long before, already provoked the government into action to address the seemingly perennial problems of floods and landslides at the source," Hernandez said.

He pointed out that last Friday’s tragedy is not the first time that the country experienced such a disaster.

"We saw disasters in Ormoc, Leyte, Casiguran, Aurora and Mindoro. Parang hindi pa rin tayo natuto (Indeed, we never learn)," Hernandez said.


im bored and doing a geography project on this mudslide. i really just wanted to write a comment.. have a nice day everyone:)


As long as good governance is not practiced by our leaders, the diminishing moral values of our government will result on continuous depletion of our ecosystem and may eventually demise.

Facts of corruption from bottom to the highest officer of this country is outrageous. Attitude problem is the disease that is incurable in our society. We hope for a better change for the welfare of our next generation.

Jenny Lao

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