One of the things that Sam brought home recently is a copy of a slideshow presentation created in the year 2002. Made by the Philippine Center for Photojournalism under the direction of Alex Baluyut and titled “Tan-aw Mindanaw: Journey Across Time”, it contains photographs from as far back as pre-war days, and features commentary by Carolyn Arguillas.
One of the most noticeable points in the photographs is the over-abundance of trees in Mindanao in the olden days. Of course now those trees are gone, the way huge old trees fell by the sawmills that fed the paper mills.
And now that the trees are gone, the land is also being taken away—literally taken away—at an alarming speed by the various mines that have popped up like mushrooms in the provinces of Mindanao as well as other parts of the Philippines.
In a matter of years, our mountains will have become holes left behind by those who have hauled away all the gold and metals and minerals. These treasures, unlike trees, cannot be replaced, and do not regenerate after they have been dug up and taken away.
The mining companies say they provide jobs and foster commerce. And they do, for the time that they are operating. When they go away, as most people who have taken what they need and have no further use for the remains, what they leave behind will become a ghost town.