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Biak-na-Bato destruction scored

Published by MAC on 2006-06-29

Biak-na-Bato destruction scored

Manila Times

29th June 2006

SAN MIGUEL, Bulacan: For mountaineers like Everest conquerors Leo Oración and Erwin "Pastor" Emata, the sight of the historic Biak-na-Bato being slowly destroyed by marble quarrying is more excruciating than climbing the world's highest mountain.

"We are mountaineers and our lives revolve around mountains. This sigh is not only cruel and harsh but also feels like a different kind of torture for us," Oración said, shortly after he and Emata and other members of the First Philippine Mount Everest Expedition Team reached the top of Mount Manalmon in Biak-na-Bato.

The two mountaineers scaled the slopes of Biak-na-Bato and reached the top of Mount Manalmon in a record 30 minutes as part of their campaign to save the historic site.

Biak-na-Bato was the mountain hideout of the Filipino revolutionaries in their war of liberation against Spain. It also became the site of the peace treaty between the Spanish and the Filipinos on August 9, 1897.

The expedition members were joined by 200 mountaineers, environmentalists, representatives of civic groups, students, local policemen and the media. Together, they witnessed the destruction of the nearby Mount Nabio due to the extraction of marbles through dynamite blasting.

Mount Nabio is the site where the Rosemoor Mining and Development Corp. is extracting the expensive "Tea Rose" marble.

Gov. Josie de la Cruz of Bulacan has repeatedly criticized the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for failing to act on the government's petition to withdraw the company's mining permit.

Oración and Emata said they toiled in thin air, braved the below-zero temperatures in their historic conquest of Mount Everest, so the sight of the destruction and degradation of Biak-na-Bato was frustration.

"We must all join hands and work together to preserve and protect Biak-na-Bato, we cannot just sit down and watch an important part of our national heritage being wantonly desecrated and slowly being wiped out," the mountaineers said.Cecil Yacob, chief of the provincial public affairs office, said the support being shown by Oración and Emata has ignited greater awareness among the Filipino people on the importance of saving Biak-na-Bato.

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