Troubles in paradise


By Harvey I. Barkin

SAN FRANCISCO — GMA recently screened its new documentary special “Pamana: Saving our heritage” at the Museo ng Lahing Pilipino, Philippine Center last October 30.

But this was no touristy spin on Philippine hot spots. What the GMA News and Public Affairs documentary special showcased are popular destinations but more importantly, why they should be saved while they’re still hot.

In the segment on Puerto Princesa, host Mary Umali showed off why the island paradise became a UNESCO World heritage site in 2012: the otherworldly boat ride in the Subterranean River National Park, the diving and snorkeling at Isla Felomina, the giant clams, the last few remaining Hawksbill sea turtles and other rarely seen indigenous bats and monkeys. But after the sites came the sighs.

Umali also reported how the scheme for fast-growing mango trees to replace cut trees backfired when the trees began to grow close to the underground river which was a main attraction.

Umali also revealed the extent of the corral bleaching from climate change at Silica Reef dive site.

In the next segment on the Cordillera rice terraces (included in 1995 in the UNESCO list), host Kara David brandished a genuine Banaue all-wood scooter.

But this was not necessarily good news about Igorot ingenuity. David revealed they have stopped farming the famed rice terraces. Many of them would rather be photographed in their ethnic get-up for a living. There’s enough tourists who’d pay, PHP10, PHP20 or even PHP50 per shot.

Even if a farmer gives his children the land as pamana, most of the children would rather go overseas to live an easier if not too profitable, life. One farmer’s son would rather be a driver in Italy, for example.

This was how about 30 percent or an estimated 600 hectares of the rice terraces were abandoned. In 2001, the rice terraces were on the endangered list 400 years after most of the Ifugao left. Then in 2014, the government put up stonewalls to stop soil erosion and cemented the spaces in between rocks. Ten years later, the terraces were removed from the endangered list.

GMA International Affiliate Development and Marketing Consultant Jush Andowitt spoke that night about their tie-in with the Consulate’s Spark + Connect + Empower campaign. He also hinted at GMA’s future project to bring back the classics featuring Carmen Rosales and Rosa Rosal.

Wynn Star’s Joy Guzman brought in a bevy of talents. Zeyonce Brown sang “Isang Mundo, Isang Lahi.” Rachel Bergado covered “Isang Lahi.” Mika Gorospe performed “Ang tagumpay nating Lahat” and the rousing “Pinoy Ako, Proud Ako – Spark, Connect, Empower” by Dandin Ranillo and Consul Gen. Henry Bensurto Jr.