14 April 2010

Dried up water tributary.

It’s the third day here at the Greenpeace Water Watch Camp in Angat Dam. The night before had been a very clear, starry evening, unlike the previous drizzly night, but the day saw a spectacularly hot summer sun alternating with windy downpours – it was as if Mother Nature herself was showing the classic symptoms of someone having a fever.

Well, maybe she was.

I can’t help but feel a bit down today, unlike yesterday.  Maybe I’m just in need of a bath…I’m not really sure…

I went with a small team that set off from camp several times to investigate some tributaries today. We would set out with an AWAT (National Power’s Angat Watershed Area Team) ranger and a couple of BWTF (Be One With The Force) (actually, it’s Bantay Watershed Task Force, but the Star Wars geek in me can’t help putting that in. They’re volunteers who pitch in to protect our water source, so they’re practically Jedi in my book).  The AWAT outrigger boat would only reach so far or it runs the risk of running aground in usually deep areas that have now become shallow. Then we would try to get the rest of the way up a tributary using a Greenpeace Water Patrol inflatable.

Dead fish and fresh water clams around the camp area

No dice, though, we kept running aground in most of the tributary connections just a few feet from the main Angat flow. We’re betting waters in the tributaries still have a bit of water further upstream, but we can’t get to those parts to examine further because we kept running into areas that are more muck than ground. At one point, my namesake and boat team leader, JP Cabus, had to jump into chest-deep muck that was more quicksand than water to get us out because the wind was pulling us deeper into a really mucky area with sheer slopes on both sides. We would have to be rescued by chopper if he hadn’t succeeded in pulling the inflatable boat out by hand or if his adrenaline hadn’t kicked in enough to stop him from sinking further into the muck.

We’re calling in the help of Mt. Everest Summiteer Romy Garduce, maybe he can get a team up through those areas to get a better picture of the situation of Angat tributaries. He’ll be arriving at camp and going on the expedition of Matulid and other tributaries on the 16th.

A Greenpeace volunteer measuring the decrease in the water levels of Angat lake for the past 3 days.
We have a lot of heroes here in the camp right now.  Actually, a lot of the Earth’s heroes come in and out of this camp during this week-short stay.  They’ve all been through situations like JP has, or like the one Romy will be going through.  JP , Romy and the rest actually go through even more challenging stuff.  But most people don’t know about their simple acts of heroism. Worse, maybe most don’t really care.

I’m feeling really down today.  It’s part of my job to get the word out about such people and why Greenpeace is doing what it is doing. But I’m not even sure if people already know or care about what’s going on here.  As I sit and write this down, I’m not very sure about my spot here in this camp among such selfless and effective – yet unsung – heroes.

Someone once asked: “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does the tree make a sound at all?”

These people try to keep trees from falling. And I can’t even keep the sounds from being unheard. :( I hope tomorrow is a better day.

JP Agcaoli