Pandan Antique Philippines

Appeal to Gov. Exequiel Javier

December 9, 2000

Antique Governor Exequiel Javier
San Jose, Antique

Dear Governor Javier:

This letter is about the proposed dumpsite in Semirara for Metro Manila’s garbage that I was made aware of by the Pandan, Antique organizations here in the USA.

I have been living in Washington State since 1968, but my heart and loyalty are still intact as an Antiqueño and Pandananon. I have a lot of relatives in Sibalom and San Jose because my mother is from there. But I have my roots in Pandan, the town of my birth, home of my relatives.

In all my travels, no place can compare to the beauty of Pandan and its surroundings… the pristine beaches where I spent my childhood days playing and cleaning my feet in the sand, the coral reefs that exposed me to a myriad of colored creatures of the sea, the clear waters that lured me to learn to swim at an early age, the fresh catch from the sea on our table, the unhurried existence of a peaceful town.

What will happen to all these when Semirara island, which is just a few miles away from Pandan, becomes MMDA’s dumpsite for tons and tons of trash? I shudder when I think of the day when Semirara becomes part of that trash. The once beautiful island that offered me refuge from the storm on a sailboat trip to Mindoro when I was ten years old will be but an eyesore and an environmental derelict.

To the islanders, a happy day routine is a swim in the clear waters of the sea, fresh fish on the table, and a good catch for the market. This routine will be disrupted by the existence of the dumpsite. The potential pollution of the air and water, the existence of hazardous chemicals and toxins in the site, the accidental leaks from the barges that transport the trash from Manila to Semirara, the extinction of marine life, the ruin of the turtle and bird sanctuaries… all these will destroy the natives’ quality of life.

Semirara is ours. It is a part of us. Are we going to allow outsiders to treat us without any regard for our quality of life, safety and welfare? We, Antiqueños, may have very little compared to the other provinces, but what we have are invaluable treasures of the sea and land. We are a proud people. And, we have strong moral values. The little that we have, we treat with utmost care and respect. We are adamant when it comes to preserving these treasures and protecting each other.

The Semirara residents need our protection now, not just from pollution and degradation, but also from being made a pawn to the unscrupulous maneuvers of the so-called elite. As the governor of Antique, and the province’s key spokesperson in the proposal, you have the power vested in you to stop the impending destruction of Semirara and its neighboring islands and towns. Please use that power to save Semirara and its vicinity. Their fate is in your hands. Let justice and compassion for your people survive and prevail. Put a stop to the Semirara dumpsite.

Respectfully yours,

Washington, USA