A DAY IN A LIFE OF . . . An environmental planning assistant


The author at the Haribon booth during Sablayan’s Founding Anniversary and Dugoy Festival

7a.m.—I woke up feeling refreshed from the 10-hour Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro trip yesterday. To maximize the long weekend, I asked my boyfriend, Ein, to accompany me while on fieldwork.

Coming here, we took the bus, the RoRo boat, and then rode another bus. The sea was rough but I still enjoyed the cup noodles I had while on the boat.

7:30 a.m.—We had breakfast at this place called GVD Restaurant. This is where Haribon staff would regularly dine whenever in town. To us, it is the most convenient and reliable restaurant in Sablayan.

The Haribon team together with the IBAMS representatives

The Haribon team together with the IBAMS representatives

8 a.m.—Luckily, the restaurant also offers a room where we can hold our meetings. We prepared for the meeting with the indigenous people of Sablayan, which are the Mangyans. On my checklist are the projector, laptop and coffee—all set and ready for the day’s meeting.

9 a.m.—The weather here in Mindoro is extreme. It becomes very wet during rainy season and dry during summer. It has been raining which delayed the participants. While waiting for other attendees, we engaged the early birds from DENR-CENRO and NCIP with small talk.

11 a.m.—Our meeting about the Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) started. This meeting is very important step before we implement our project in the IP community. We need them to accept and understand our project activities before we can fully conduct them.

This orientation is mandated by law under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, or RA 8371.

The FPIC process includes a series of consultations with the IP communityand is crucial
and worthwhile activity.

Crossing a make shift bridge in Sablayan

Crossing a make shift bridge in Sablayan

4:30 p.m.—We finished the meeting but with some unsettled agenda. I feel like these kinds of meetings sometimes leave you hanging, but it was still a fruitful event.

6 p.m.—We enjoyed our last few hours in town by taking a bath and napping for a while. A few hours of peace and calm is needed before the long travel back to Manila.

7 p.m.—Now, its time for dinner at our favorite local restaurant. Not that we have any other choice, but as I said, it’s reliable and at walking distance from our staff house.

7:30 p.m.—After dinner, we decided to go sightseeing before going home. Charlou, the Haribon site staff in Mindoro, went with Ein and I to the parola or lighthouse. It was a 10-minute tricycle ride from the staff house. We enjoyed the wonderful view of the Pandan Islands. On a good night, I always see hundreds of fishing boats that reflect like stars on the sea. Unfortunately, there are no stars since the water is too rough for fishing. We just watched the waves below and breathed the fresh ocean breeze.

9 p.m.—Now its time to head home. We said our farewell to Charlou and the rest of Sablayan. I prefer to travel at night so I won’t notice the time. I just doze off and have faith that the bus driver will bring us home safely.

10 p.m.—We came across another unfortunate event tonight—the bus was stranded. The road is flooded and we could not get across. The bus driver told us that we have to spend the night in the bus while in the middle of the rice fields until morning or when floodwater subsides.

5 a.m.—That must have been the longest time I’ve spent inside a motionless bus. The different tones of snoring and the sound of a crying baby didn’t help me sleep off the wait.

Text messages from back home gave me some comfort and worry at the same time. I received news that Manila is also flooded. In my mind, I asked, “how do we get home?”

12:30 p.m.— After over 14 hours of traveling we safely arrived in Batangas. In a few more hours we’ll be home. This has been a challenging experience but I did not let it bring me down. This extreme weather condition is Mother Nature’s way of tapping our shoulders.

4:30 p.m.—I’m finally in Manila. After the long journey, we made it back home. The supposed 10 hours going back to Manila took 19 hours. I’m tired and it’s time to go to bed. I went to all this trouble for the love of biodiversity and for the love of Haribon, but it was all worth it.


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