Walking from Quezon Province to Manila to Protest the Construction of the Laiban Dam

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Self-esteem and community organizing are intertwined. Poor people like the Agtas of Quezon Province are taking it upon themselves to protect Sierra Madre Mountain. They are protesting against the construction of Laiban Dam. They are walking from the Municipality of General Nakar to Manila to let the government know that the Laiban Dam will bring no positive impact on Quezon Province and Metro Manila.

The flash flood brought about by Typhoon Ondoy in September 26 and 27 of this year (2009) was due mainly to the degradation of the Sierra Madre Mountain. As we all know, trees protect us from landslides and floods. The Sierra Madre Mountain has become the much sought after place of loggers. We cannot forget the flash flood in Infanta in 2004. Many people drowned as Infanta is a basin. The aftermath of the flood was a clear testimony to the unabated logging activities inside the Sierra Madre. Loggers logged at the inner portion of the forest and this gave a semblance of a healthy Sierra Madre. But what many people didn't know was that the loggers let the log fall into the Agos River. At some point in the Agos River, friends of loggers intercepted the logs quietly. That was how business went. After the 2004 flash flood, so many logs filled the sea near Infanta, Quezon.

The same flash flood in 2004 happened in Metro Manila on September 26 and 27, 2009. The major reason was the same - a defosted Sierra Madre Mountain. As if things are not bad enough, the government is constructing a dam in the town of General Nakar in Quezon Province. The purported aim is to generate more electricity for Metro Manila.

The people who will be most affected are the Agtas of Quezon. Thousands of families will lose their livelihood which will result into an economic displacement. But more than the economic displacement of the Agtas is the negative impact the dam will have on Sierra Madre.