Win-win solution for Boracay’s remaining natural resources
In recent weeks, much has been written about the environmental disaster borne out of greed wrought on tourist magnet Boracay. We would like to point out one aspect that, thus far, seems to have been minimally discussed.
The Ati Negritos, the original inhabitants of the island, are primary victims of the habitat destruction and pollution in this location and it has become increasingly difficult for them to make a decent living the traditional way.
In 2012, the Ati were awarded a certificate of ancestral domain title, comprising of a plot of a mere 2.1 hectares in Barangay Manoc-Manoc. However, this tiny piece of land is not only insufficient to cater to the community’s needs, encroachments on it also have continued to take place.
A win-win solution could be giving what is left of the island’s public timber lands ICCA (Philippine Indigenous Communities-Conserved Areas) status. This would imply, that the Ati community is made the steward of these lands. In this capacity they could help conserve the natural resources therein, with actual use limited to “light” traditional occupations, such as the gathering of wild foods, medicinal herbs and other nontimber forest products.
This is not a new idea. Way back in 2012, during the “Dimgo Ke Eata Ribo” cultural revival festival and development forum held in Malay, Aklan, a senior officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources suggested exactly this option. Now appears to be the right time for considering implementation.
CONCHITA C. CALZADO, chair,
MELVIN R. GUILLENO, national program coordinator,
Sentrong Pagpapalakas ng Negritong Kultura at Kalikasan
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