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By ax, bulldozer, chainsaw and fire, the world trees are falling- much faster than man’s efforts for tree planting. Although government battles to practice and regulate selective logging and reforesting, but still illegal loggers rape the forest and our trees that has been all part of our history and existence.
The Philippines was once covered with tropical rainforests and home of giant trees. In Bukidnon, Mindanao, forests of pine trees make a veritable cathedral of wilderness, where all sounds are muted, where man stands humbly before nature.
Fortunately, whenever I go for vacation in the mountainside, I can still appreciate the mountainous ends of Bukidnon - still with preserved rain forests. I love the vast green landscape of the hills and valleys beside the road, though some have lost the extensive stand of trees – but still a beauty to behold. The blending of the green forests and blue skies displays a wonder on every glimpse of the scenery.
In Misamis Oriental, specifically in the district of Initao, a national park has been protected for centuries at the foot of Kitanglad Mountain Range along the Iligan-Cagayan de Oro road. Recently, this has been preserved still as a forest park, however, with some tourist attractions, thus now named as "Lasang" (a Cebuano word for forest) Adventure Park. Tourist can now enjoy hiking, caving, and zipline adventure. There are also campsites and picnic areas, of course waste disposal is a strict compliance.
This is the national highway of Iligan-Cagayan de Oro, and in both sides are the thick forest of Initao Forest Park extending over to the rocky coastline. Thus, it always captures attention to travelers and locals of the province while traveling.
Today, poverty forces some rural people and farmers to cut sections of the forest for agriculture. Land haphazardly cleared for farms and grazing – usually a national excuse for deforestation. Commercial forces are also at work undeniably to sustain livelihood, like planting crops and selling firewood, which is the principal fuel for almost all rural dwellers. The Philippines were blessed with so much dense rainforest before that many Filipinos thought it was inexhaustible. Trees were exploited, forests were depleted and hills went bald after a turn of century on exporting hardwood leading to the corrupt issue of illegal logging.
The challenge, however, is not just to plant trees; but also to stop most causes of deforestation- fuel, farmland and fodder, and the worst of all illegal logging. I think we have enough lands to till for the farmers, for the buildings and residences. We still need wilderness to release our tensions from a busy and stressful life. The kids should have the opportunity to fill their hearts with affection for the mysteries of the forests and nature.