This is re-posted from the Multiply site. I know that this is a tragedy not only on ecological, but on sociological grounds as well; for every dollar a casino brings into a community it costs $1.60 in social services.
The Last Days of the Tambo Mudflats
By Tina Alejandro, WBCP founding member
I still remember creeping up to a Black Crowned Night Heron chick as it was sitting as still as a telephone pole hoping I won’t notice it. It was alone and defenseless and reachable. It had nothing to fear from Robert and I and we were just euphoric at seeing a chick up close. In a comic sort of way, we humans and the chick were all motionless.
We were amidst an unimaginable number of nests in the center of the city and the birds were relatively undisturbed. Sticks of dry grass towered over us making it impossible to see just how many of them there were. The noises too were not familiar and at one point, I had visions of each one of us being snatched one by one and vanishing into the vast grass maze.
Untouched, unnoticed except by the wildlife, this was just a few meters across from a condo constructed across Manila bay. Such wonders we discovered amidst mundane looking roads and buildings.
These days you can see any one of these species in the area: Purple Heron, Little Egret,
Little Heron, Rufous Night-Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Yellow Bittern, Philippine Duck, Barred Rail, Common Sandpiper, Tringa, Spotted Dove, Zebra Dove, Lesser Coucal, Collared Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Barn Swallow, Pacific Swallow, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Clamorous Reed-Warbler, Bright-capped Cisticola, Zitting Cisticola, Pied fantail, Long-tailed Shrike, Asian Glossy Starling, Chestnut Munia, Scaly-breasted Munia,and Terns.
We hear it is the last days of the mudflats. The government is turning the whole area into a casino complex… Pagcor city. My being sad is an understatement. Not just as an environmentalist or as a relatively decent person am I sad but also as a Filipino. These birds are what make us different from other nations. Casinos? Is this what we want to make our mark in the world as? We cannot compete with Las Vegas or Carlo but we can certainly compete in the area of biodiversity.
When I was in England for a month, I was hosted by a simple (yet well-heeled) retired couple. Knowing I was a naturalist, they hied me off a few streets away to a village lookout. It was a little wooden hut facing a pond but the one side was a one way mirror. You could see the ducks, geese, sparrows and such enjoying the tucked away corner of the bush garden. It was such a refreshing sight and unspeakably soul-enriching.
The insides of the hut contained illustrations coupled with information on the kinds of animals you could unobstrusively observe from its confines. The place was unattended, no guards to collect maintenance fees or locked gates to keep out unwanteds. It was a free for all sanctuary built by a private citizen to be shared to the community.
How glorious would it be if we had places like this in the city? It would do wonders for our world weary urban dwellers and it would teach so much more than mesmerizing pull of a roulette. If I were an influential person in government, I would ask what kind of a people do we ultimately want to be? The kind who places money above everything else? This is a self-destructive logic.
Though it may be a lost cause, I still hope for Filipinos to see the abundance that surrounds them, the riches they have which they do not value, one of the most (if not the most) diverse places per square inch in the world. I’m convinced we have the cure to the incurable right in our own backyard.
The last days of the mudflats are only a microcosm of the what’s happening all over the country, unless more of us open our eyes to protect what the good Lord has freely given us. Fingers crossed, earnest prayers said, may this not be paradise lost.
Don't keep it to yourself!