Pandan Antique Philippines

Appeal to Vice Governor Damian Marfil

December 24, 2000

Vice Governor Damian Marfil
Province of Antique
San Jose, Antique, Philippines

Dear Sir:

My apologies for writing to you only now, which is a gross oversight on my part. Because if there is one person aside from the governor who can exert a lot of influence on the Semirara dumpsite proposal, it is you.

I am sure you have heard the people’s reasons for opposing the dumpsite on the island of Semirara. If you really take a good look at these reasons, you will realize that beneath all the overt display of emotions are the pain and the hurt these people are feeling for being made helpless victims of political greed and power. They are victims because other people are getting richer and looking smug at their expense and also because they are so limited in what they can do to fight those who wield so much power over them.

Happiness to the islanders is being at peace with the sea, being in accord with the natural beauty of their surroundings, and being able to live their simple life with no threat, rancor, or fear of the unknown. They are simple folks who don’t need much beyond the necessities of their daily existence.

Is it therefore too much for them to ask that they be left alone to continue with the simple life they have perpetuated for generations and generations? Is it worth having the dumpsite at their expense? How can one justify the ultimate destruction of their cherished lifestyle?

I have a degree in Social Work and I retired from teaching a few years ago. My address is in the United States, but I was born and raised in Pandan, Antique, and I finished college at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. I have relatives in Sibalom and San Jose on my mother’s side. I went to Boracay on my last visit in 1993, and I stayed in Sibay and Semirara for a few days, when I was ten years old, during a sailboat trip to Mindoro. So I know what I’m talking about when I mention Semirara and the other islands. The peacefulness and beauty of the islands and the islanders are imbedded in my mind and they have captured my heart. As an Antiqueno and a Pandananon by birth and by choice, I am therefore passionate about protecting our heritage and looking after our people’s welfare.

Please don’t let the outsiders destroy Semirara. They are like ships passing through the night—when they’re gone, they’re gone. Would they think of looking back? I very much doubt it. But what about the residents who are left behind? Can we bear to see them pick up the pieces and the tattered remnants of their once peaceful existence that the outsiders had in considerately left behind? Would they be able to rebuild and start anew? Some things just couldn’t be replaced, and some others would take a lifetime to recuperate from the ravages of misuse and abuse.

We only come through this world once. When I go, I would like to be remembered as having done my best to stop the Semirara dumpsite. I hope you will be remembered the same way too, especially because you have the power and the capability to save the island from its imminent destruction.

Respectfully yours,

Washington, USA