CHAPTER VIII

ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS




The issue of environmental ethics will be treated in the following way. Firstly, we shall treat the Filipino's world view which has much to say about his relationship with nature. Secondly, we shall see the principles of ethical judgment. By "principles" we mean the use of value ranking as a tool for ethical judgment. Thirdly, we shall summarize the ecological situation of the country. Fourthly, we shall then touch the values of ecology criminals. Lastly, we take a case study as a an application of environmental ethics.

THE FILIPINO AND HIS RELATIONSHIP TO NATURE

I would like to start with the world view of tribal Filipinos because that has been our original way of thinking. Then I shall go to the modern Filipino world view.

Filipinos in general are not individualistic. The tribal Filipinos identify in their tribe and place. The tribal Filipino is like a tree that is rooted on something more than himselfhis family, his clan, his "tribe". This explains the phenomena of marriage as a union of two groups and not of two persons alone.

If we go further, the Filipino does not think of himself as separate even from the departed. The latter are part of his sakop thinking. I would illustrate this point with a personal experience. After my priestly ordination there was a first solemn high mass at the hometown of my father in Naga, Cebu. Since our family stayed in Manila for some time, we told my relatives in Cebu to make the arrangement for the mass. During the mass, those who prepared the celebration put two chairs in the center of the aisle, one for my mother and the other for my deceased father. My mother felt uneasy about the empty chair, but my relatives insisted that the chair remain because they believed that my deceased father was present in the occasion. Anthropologist say that this way of thinking is tied up with animism, or better, primal religion.

The typical Filipino's relationship with nature is reflected in his rituals.1 Before a farmer plants or cuts a tree, he first consults the spirits. The act is analogous to "presenting one's legal permits and licenses."2 He asks the spirits of the ancestors and non-ancestors to bless his planting and harvesting. We see this mentality among the Hanunoo Mangyans of Mindoro. They believe that

all kinds of plants, as well as animal and human beings, have spirits (kalag). The cultivation of rice is believed tobe impossible without the power of kalag paray (rice spirits). However, they lack a clear image of what these spirits look like or where they come from.3

The same applies to fishermen. They have rites of "buying" the port from the spirits or offer food in order that they may have a plentiful catch.4

In short, the Filipino considered nature (kalikasan) as something to be in harmony with. Or in the words of Hornedo,

The traditional Filipino lived with nature. The forests and rivers were his "brothers." Their preservation and conservation was his life. Their destruction, his destruction. He had lore to teach his society this fact. When he told his children the divine beings prohibited the desecration of the forest, he was speaking with the authority of life and in the name of life, not of money.5

But when the traditional Filipino went against nature, he had to suffer for it. Anthropologists say that myths and folklore in general reflect a people's mind. In the theme of Maria Makiling, the goddess Maria Makiling extends help to the people as long as the people do not harm the mountains, forests, animals and ecology in general. But Maria Makiling vanishes when the people are unfaithful to her.6 The myths also show how a great flood, similar to the Deluge in the bible, happened when the people became greedy and lazy.

In short, the Filipino orientation to nature is part of his world view which J. Bulatao calls "transpersonal."7 This world view might become clearer is contrasted with the typical western world view (see Table 5).

Bulatao says whereas the Buddhist model has only one reality, the Christian model is dualistic. Dualism means the dichotomy between the finite and infinite. The transpersonal world view differs from the Christian world view in the sense that the former admits the existence of spirits "as living normal, earthly lives of their own as if they were a race of humans, unlike the Christian view of spirit which polarizes them into the totally good and totally bad."8

The Filipino is not individualistic because he belongs to a larger reality.

Each individual is like a tree and his consciousness is rooted in an unconscious. But the roots go beyond a personal conscious, and at the level of collective unconsciousthe roots of one tree intermingle with the roots of another.9

The Filipino philosophy of nature then is similar to Taoist philosophy. Taoist art shows nature paintings where man is just a small part of

















































the whole scene. A typical painting will show mountains, rivers, and earth. Man is just a tiny part of the scene. The mountains are often partly covered with mist. This mist seems to indicate that the mountains are alive and breathing.

In short, man is a part of the cosmos. He is rooted in it and is not over nature. This view differs greatly from the mastery-over-nature mentality that has characterized Western thought.

The traditional Filipino saw himself as part of his people and of his place. For example, a typical tribal Filipino may see a tree as inseparable from its roots and environment. In contrast, a Westerner would tend to isolate the tree, contrast it to other trees and label it as being of a particular species or kind of tree. Western individualism stresses the person's uniqueness and separateness from other people and from nature itself.

The Filipino Continuum

Will the traditional Filipino philosophy of nature change with the advent of materialism? Will he become secularized and forget his traditional harmony with nature?10 The answer of that question cannot be a simple yes or no; it has nuances.

Filipinos form a continuum: from those with the life style of tribal Filipinos, to the sophisticated ones who live in posh areas of Metro Manila. The latter tend to be very westernized. However, there are not a few urbanites who believe in spirits and other traditional factors of the transpersonal world view. Demetrio's two volume Encyclopedia of Philippine Folk Beliefs and Customs is replete with entries from the whole country where the transpersonal world view is very much alive.

Hornedo speaks of Filipino urban animism. He notes that some persons with Ph.D.'s and M.A.'s in management and residing in Dasmariñas Village and Forbes Park believe in the existence of spirits in the same way their counterparts do in the mountains.11 One evening a man living in one of those rich enclaves was disturbed by unusual happenings in his house. For example, his bed moves; his blanket is pulled off when no one is around, or the air-conditioner switches to high or low without anyone touching it. After consulting a medium, he finds out that he had built a swimming pool on what was formerly a clump of bamboo. Rather than destroy the swimming pool and restore the bamboo, the owner sells the hourse to a German national. The new German owner later dies in a helicopter crash. The former Filipino owner feels guilty because he thinks he was partly responsible. If he did not sell the house, there would be no helicopter accident.

Another person bought a bottle a wine when he was abroad and brought it to his tennis club friends as pasalubong. A Visayan member asked the oldest in the group to "do it", namely, to open the bottle and pour a few drops of thw wine on the ground. Nobody questioned the act and they all understood the ritual.

Living in Metro Manila does not necessarily do away with the transpersonal world view. However their roots and become totally individualized and westernized. Those who keep the transpersonal world view have, in the expression of Martin Buber, an I-Thou relationship with nature. The mountains, forests, rivers are Thous. They are like St. Francis of Assisi who called the elements of nature `brothers' and `sisters', like Brother Sun and Sister Moon. The transpersonal world view is ecologically friendly. But when nature is depersonalized, it becomes an `It' and in consequence is exploited as a commodity.

Let us relate now the transpersonal world view to ethics.

THE BASIS OF ETHICAL JUDGMENT

Elements of Filipino Ethics, proposed a methodology for judging ethical problems.12 With St. Thomas Aquinas, it saw morality as based on human nature.13 Ethical judgment must be contextualized since human nature is not something abstract, but is situated in concrete people with their particularities.

The method tries to stay in the middle of two opposing schools of thought in ethics and moral theology with differing pictures of God. One is the God of the Last Judgment, the stern judge and lawgiver. This school of ethics is based on duty (deon in Greek, whence the term, deontological school) and is legalistic and essentialistic. It gives more weight to the object, has a physical bias and cares less for the situation and the intention of the subject.

The other picture of God is exemplified in the father of the prodigal son. This school (as typified in situation ethics) wants to move from duty and to surrendering oneself in the arms of a loving and merciful God. It puts love above all things.

Between the two extremes is revisionist ethics. It is focused not on individual acts, but on the totality of one's fundamental option. It honors the conscience of the people which one must follow in honesty and truth.

This is not the place to go back to fundamentals about ethical theory. Some philosophers believe that values are found in the object, while some insist that values exist only in the subject. We maintain that values are transubjective and intersubjective, that is, based on objects and found as well in the subject and in the relations between subjects.

Filipino ethics is by no means identified with revisionist ethics. It is similar to revisionist ethics in the sense that it has value ranking as the basis for the moral judgment. The hierarchy of value will depend upon the culture. For example, while do-re-mi and the succeding notes of the scale are universal, the combination of these tones will create a music peculiar to that culture. Thus while we can speak of Chinese, German, or Filipino, we can also speak of of Chinese, German, and Filipino music. We believe that this ranking of values is applicable to both lowland and upland, or tribal, Filipinos.

We take value here from the standpoint of a people as a group, not as individuals. For example, a sabongero may value more and pay more attention to his fighting cock than his family. Hitler valued the extermination of the millions of Jews during World War II.

Value Ranking

What is the ranking of Filipino values? Allow me to sketch its hierarchy.

First life is the foremost value.14 Survival counts first: in relation to this other values become secondary. In the expression, kapit sa patalim (literally, holding a sharp instrument), a drowning man will even embrace a knife or bolo in order to be saved. In its applied sense, he may sacrifice other values just to save his life.

Second is a cluster of values which are related to the in-group (sakop) and its equivalent like the extended family:15 sakop have a family spirit. The family extends both from the living to the departed ancestors. Because the Filipino is not individualistic, sakop fulfillment is also personal fulfillment.

On the part of the parents or superiors there are the values of authority, power, honor, and benevolence such as love of children. On the part of the children, are the values of obedience, dependence, respect, love of parents, gratitude, and related values.

The third rank of values are related to relationships. These are smallgroup values such as economic security, family honor (face), prestige (social standing, influence, solidarity, and so forth). These small-group values are supported by a cluster of social values such as hospitality, generosity, and similar values related to pakikipagkapwa. If clustered further, these values support asal (character) which has three basic elements of kapwa (neighbor, the others), damdamin (feeling or the emotional standard), and dangal (personal honor and dignity).16 Under kapwa are the supporting values of pakikisama, pakikitungo, pakikiramay. Under damdamin (feeling) are the values of hiya, delicadeza/amor proprio, awa. Under dangal are supporting norms like bahala, galang, utang na loob.

The fourth rank includes such remaining values as material values.





































In short, the ranking of Filipino values are: (1) life, (2) values related to the sakop like the extended-family, (3) values concerning relationships, and (4) all the other values.

These values may be illustrated in a circle (see Figure 1) where the core value is life, followed by the others in concentric circles.

Where does the value of ecology come in? Ecology as a value is not limited to one group, but is a part of the core value of life. The survival of the planet depends on how we treat the environment. Livelihood for some is directly linked with the seas, rivers, and forests. When these resources are disturbed, their means of livelihood suffer. If the air becomes so foul that people get sick, that also concerns life as a core value. Furthermore, the ecology is connected with the second set. Note that the departed are part of the extended family.

Earlier it was mentioned tht one's relationship with nature can be either I-Thou or I-It. The I-It relationship happens when the person degrades nature to a thing which can be abused and manipulated. For such people, the values of nature are relegated to a fourth priority.

An example would be the way some unscrupulous young men used to block a few sewers in Rizal Avenue in downtown Manila during heavy rain in order to create flooded sidewalks and make small toll bridges with which to make a small profit from the passers-by. They did not think of the others in general, but only of how they could gain from the misery of others. The same myopia is true of people who may have their houses and yards clean, but dump the garbage on the street: they value cleanliness, but at the expense of the general public.

Although the tribal minorities have retained the transpersonal world view which is ecologically friendly, some of their unscrupulous leaders have aligned themselves with some lowlanders to destroy their own forests and water resources.

But before going into the ethics of ecology, let us first review the present ecological situation of the country.

THE ACTUAL ECOLOGICAL SITUATION

The actual ecological situation of the country is well documented.17 Let us take a look at the resources of forests and fish.

Forests

"Mechanized logging destroys 25 percent of the forest area covered."18 This is not only because of the felling of tress, but also the clearing of forests in order to let in the machines as well as in the hauling of the logs.

The destruction of the forests has many effects. First there is severe soil erosion "of about 60 percent of total . . . disposable lands which include agricultural lands."19 That means because the soil of farms is less fertile through erosion, less crops will be harvested. Erosion also causes landslides: the frequent landslides in the roads going to Baguio are famous examples.

A second result of deforestation is an increased frequency of floods and drought. The deforestation has affected the ecological balance. The November, 1991, killer flood in Ormoc city was attributed to the denuded forest. Because the bare mountains could not hold the rain, the waters dammed up and rush down upon the city, killing 8,000 people in a short time.

The Ormoc incident was similar during Typhoon Ditang that swept two cities and one town in Nueva Ejica on July 19, 1992. Because the denuded mountains could not hold the water, a wall of water rushed from the mountain and flooded the town with eight feet of water, killing 20 persons. The destruction of the crops and public works such as bridges cost 71 million pesos.20 "The Department of Environment and Natural Resources . . . confirmed that massive forest denudation was a main factor in the floods."21

Manila has often suffered brown-outs and black-outs because the water-turbine generators have been weakened for lack of water. Because the forests are gone there is a lack of water in the summer. Because of power shortage, factories are forced to stop. Billions of pesos and many business opportunities are lost due to power shortage.

Third, the deforestation has caused the shortage of fuel wood, rattan, bamboo, and other forest products. It has also caused the near extinction of many plant and animal species. Important trees used for constructions now are almost extinct. We may never again see orchids because of the logging and rattan vines used for making rattan furniture now are hard to find.

Fourth, deforestation has caused the "increased siltation of watersheds and irrigation canals and the sedimentation of rivers and coastal areas. . . . These consequences of deforestation have inflicted heavy costs on farming and fishing communities."22 The siltation of seashores, mangroves and coral reefs has affected the spawning grounds of marine life, meaning again less food production.

Fishing

In some incidents persons die from eating poisoned shellfish (tahong) infected by the red tide (unicellular dinoflagellates which are toxic to humans). These algal blossoms thrive on "raw effluents from industries rich in nitrogen and phosporus [which] are emptied into streams and rivers to find their way ultimately into the seas."23 In short toxic waste from the "300 industrial firms which line the Pasig-San Juan Marikina river" and the "11 big industrial firms and 200 smaller industrial and commercials firms" are responsible for the untreated sewage flushed into Manila bay.24 Besides the sickness and loss of human life, the fishermen of Manila Bay suffered from loss of sales because nobody bought the tahong shells they harvested.

Since Marcos issued in 1975 Presidential Decree 704 which consolidated all fishery laws, the results have been disastrous. "Eighteen percent of our marine areas, once thought capable of meeting commercial demands, are overfished; 70 percent of our coral reefs are endangered and near the point of absolute zero regeneration; and declining catches and result malnourishment have brought even greater poverty to thousands of fishing communities. Those who befitted were local and multinational corporations, the Japanese and other foreign owners of sophisticated trawlers.25

Because of the ecological disaster, catches of fish have declined. According to a World Bank study, "traditional fishing production has been declining due to the government policies favoring coastal aquaculture and commercial fisheries, fish stock depletion from over-exploitation and degraded marine ecosystems. Of the 50 major fishing grounds, 10 are believed to be significantly overfished; . . . fishing with dynamite, poisons, muro-ami fishing, and the siltation have greatly damaged or destroyed more than half of the Philippine's four million hectares of coral reef areas."26

Among the disasters are "the decrease in fish catch with the destruction of 70 percent of our coral reefs; the biological death of Tullahan and Pasig rivers, and the impending eutrophy of Laguna de Bay."27

ECOLOGY CRIMINALS AND THEIR VALUES

Who are the main culprits? What are their values? Deforestation through illegal logging is not only an ecological issue.

Logging is more than an ecological problem. It is a social, political and economic dilemma as well. At the root of the malaise are stupendous profits and the ease with which they can be raked in.28

Since logging is lucrative, it is understandable why even lawgivers and law-enforcers are involved in it. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources listed on August 1, 1992, "200 soldiers and policemen and 1,200 civilians believed involved in illegal logging."29 The list includes "several mayors and governors in the region . . . coddling illegal loggers."30 These people were responsible for the illegal logging in the 14,000-hectare watershed in Nueva Ecija.

According to a report, "Timber concessions are major culprits of forest denudation. The forest covers in present concession areas are below the standard of 54%."31 Most of the "illegally cut logs are mainly exported to Japan and Taiwan, either through smuggling or underreporting."32

As a democracy, we are supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. But in reality the elite and those in government who control the public domain and natural resources practically own the country.33 "Access to natural resources in the Philippines is open only to the privileged elite, the rich and the powerful who have the proper resources and connections with the government, making it easy for them to secure and justify the needed permission or right to exploit the resource."34

The word state means the people, but

in practice, the "state" has meant politicians and their business partners. The history of primary resource exploitation in the Philippines is replete with the names and fortunes of politicians and foreign interests, as left-wing ideologues have not tired of repeating.35

"The ones who control the resources, the economic powers, are also those holding the political power."36 We therefore understand why so many people aspire for politics. It is simply big business. The millions of pesos which politicians spend during elections are investments. What they earn legally is just a fraction of what they earn extra-legally through their office. This practice has a historical precedence: during the Spanish colonial times when the mayors or alcaldes spent much to get their position they made up for this by controlling the trade of theirs territories.37

Let us take deforestation as a concrete example. "Within the last 20 years, . . . only 470 loggers made an income of $42 billion, more than our foreign debt, and in the process helped create 18 million poor people in the uplands."38 If God gave the trees, why should these 470 loggers benefit while the people do not even get a schoolhouse?39 The export of logs does not benefit the country, but only the loggers.40 To make matters worse, the ordinary citizen are taxed to pay for reforestation while the loggers earn by harvesting the forests.41

What happens in the forest applies also to water resources. An example of how the elite overpower the poor is Laguna de Bay.

When large-scale operators are given area concessions and permits to establish fishpens in multiple hectares along the lakeshores, small-scale, subsistence or marginal fishermen are deprived of their former rights of livelihood. They are forced to go to the more central and farther areas of the lake where the productivity is less and weather conditions are not conducive to fishing.42

The Philippine government adheres to the Regalian doctrine. It means that the government owns all the public lands and all natural resources that they contain.43 When Spain conquered the Philippines, it claimed that all property belonged to it. That means the people and their ancestors who lived in it did not own the land. The United States used the same principle in its annexation of the country. "Ironically, the same concept was enshrined in all post-independence constitutions of the Philippines, thus ensuring the systematic marginalization of many Filipino citizens."44 Although ancestral domain is enshrined in the 1987 constitution, and although Sections 6 and 7 of Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution bind the state to land reform and to helping the poor, these provisions still are not implemented. That means that the traditional people, especially, are squatters on their own land!45 The tribal Filipinos, descendants of early Filipinos long before colonial times, occupy ancestral lands which the government now says does not belong to them.

The policies of the government have contributed less to the economic development of the country as a whole, because they benefit only the elite and make the rest suffer more.

This is not to imply that all in the elite are bad: many of their members champion the ecological cause. The poor are no different in oppressing their fellowmen: given a position of power and the chance of exploit others, some poor people act like present oppressors among the elite. They cannot only because they do not have access to becoming a mayor or other elected official. But the above data show that the worst enemies of the ecology are from the elite, who also have infected some leaders of the tribal Filipinos with greed.

In her study on the politics of logging, Vitug traces the main reasons of deforestation:

Several forces have contributed to deforestation: government, through the absence of a coherent forest protection policy, use of the TLA [Timber License Agreement] as a tool of political patronage and weak law enforcement; private concessionaires, through violation of forestry laws; politicians, by pushing for the interests of timber concessionaires at the expense of forest protection; military officers, through the road right-of-way racket, illegal loggers. Indirectly, the New People's Army has contributed to the denudation of the forests. They profited from logging concessionaires instead of defending the forests.46

In short, the elite are responsible for most of the ecological and economic failures of the country. What are the values of the spoilers of ecology? They are not concerned about the common good; their value is not hanap-buhay (search for a living), but pampayaman (how to get rich).

THE POOR AND THE ECOLOGY

The traditional farming system of the tribal Filipinos has been proven to be sound. They have

the common practice of fallow periods in their swidden farms, where the soil is left "abandoned" and nature allowed to rehabilitate itself. The swidden farm of indigenous peoples should not be confused with the fixed hillside farms of upland migrants who practice lowland agriculture in the highlands; basically monocropping intended for high yields.47

Velasco has done a study on the kaingin or swidden and its cultivator, the kainginero.48 He says that there are two kinds of swidden farming: the integral or more traditional which includes rituals, and the partial which is more interested in livelihood. The second kind has two subdivisions: (1) as a complementary way of livelihood, and (2) as a full-time way of livelihood. This second type may fall under the kaigin as used by private industry and logging companies.

Ethnic Filipino groups may use the swidden agriculture as a complementary form of livelihood.

There are also several kinds of kaingineros: (1) the aboriginal Filipinos who were often migratory. They did swidden farming as they went from place and to place and cleared some parts of the forest for planting. However, with the scarcity of land and as they gradually are being driven out by lowlanders, their options are becoming limited. (2) Some ethnic groups may occupy one or two hectares in the forest and then in a year or two leave and go elsewhere. (3) The third group are the educated lowland Filipinos. They try to occupy or grab large areas of land for the purpose of logging, grazing, and agricultural reasons. They use machinery and are ruthless in destroying the forests. Among them are the loggers who get logging concessions. This third kind of kaingero is the worst enemy of ecology.

There are also squatters or land speculators. They may occupy a piece of the forest, not as a livelihood, but in the hope of eventually owning the land. These people also have connections with influential people in higher places. There are also professional kaingineros who are employed by capitalists to grab lands.

Are swidden farmers enemies of the environment? Velasco thinks no.49 Because of their lack of knowledge of the means of controlling erosion, they continue to do what their forefathers did. If the kagingin is their livelihood, would they wish to destroy it?

The unjust situation of the farmers has a vicious cycle:

Poverty is caused by the inequitable access to natural resources, since, as pointed out, only large corporations or a selected elite are given the rights and licenses to exploit. Poverty, in turn, causes the kaingineros, in the case of forestry resources, to enter logged-over areas which have been opened up, and practice slash-and-burn agriculture. A vicious cycle thus results with the poor getting poorer, the rich getting richer and forest resources getting scarcer.50

What was said of the farmers applies also to the eight million subsistence fishermen and their dependents. With the shrinking of their catch, these people have to resort to other means. "This decline has been the result of massive exploitation, the encroachment of foreign fishing vessels, competition form local commercial fishermen, and unsustainable practices of some local fisherfolk, e.g., dynamite fishing."51

The poor fishermen have such problems as usury and unfair competition with commercial fishing vessels. Although the law bans the trawlers from fishing within seven kilometers from the shoreline, the law is often violated.

The problems which fishermen face forces them to go illegal.

Deprived of their traditional fishing grounds and catch, many fisherfolk have resorted to illegal and destructive fishing methods to maintain their livelihood. Dynamite and cyanide fishing cause damage to marine habitat, but these methods are mild compared to muro-ami, a commercial fishing method that uses stones to pound coral reefs to drive the fish out of their hiding places and toward a waiting net. The reefs, which at ideal condition support as much as two tons of fishper hectare, are completely turned to rubble after a muro-ami fishing expedition."52

The victims of the threatened environment are "fishermen, kaingineros, the 18 million poor people in the uplands, the four million trials, the two million marginalized fishermen."53

A CASE STUDY

Let us take a case study and apply the value ranking.

The Case

Mang Cipriano is a kainginero, so his means of livelihood is swidden or slash-and-burn agriculture. He parents were also kaingineros. The forest which was the source of their livelihood was cut down by a private logging company. The logging company did not do the required planting of new seedings to replace the trees it cut down. Now that the forest was gone and logging company has left the place, secondary growth of small trees and shrubs has come up. Cipriano continues to slash and burn the bushes to make it easier to farm.

One day a forestry extension worker meets Mang Cipriano. The extension worker tells Mang Cripriano that his kaingin is against the law, that he is a squatter on the place because he has no Torrens title. Therefore he must vacate his kaingin.

Mang Ciprinao tells the forestry extension worker: "Hindi ka pa ipinanganganak nagkakaingin na ang aming matatanda dito. Hindi naman sila pinaalis noon. Bakit ngayong tahimik kaming namumuhay dito, papaalisin kami?" (Before you were born, our ancestors already had the kaingin here. They were not told to go that time. Now that we live peacefully here, why evict us?)

The forestry worker asks: "Why stick to the kaigin? Can you not find other work?"

Mang Ciprino says: "My grandparents and parents were kaingineros. Why should I change my livelihood? I did not go to school. Having a kaigin is all what I know."

"But the kaigin system is against the law," says the extension worker. "You can be imprisoned."

Mang Cipriano answers: "Magpapabilanggo na lang ako; mabuti pa sa loob ng bilangguan kumakain ako ng tatlong beses sa isang araw. Sana ikulong na rin ang aking asawa at mga anak." (I prefer to be imprisoned. It is better to be inside the prison because I can eat thrice a day. It would be better if you also imprison my wife and my children.)

What ethical judgment is to be made of the action of Mang Cipriano?

The Value Ranking

The Filipino's traditional farming which included the swidden or slash-and-burn agriculture was ecologically sound.54 He periodically allowed a kaingin area to lie fallow for some years on a rotation basis. The practice meant that the traditional farmer had plenty of land at his disposal.

The problem occurs when land becomes scarce, when the landless farmers and the tribal minorities are driven out by the lowlanders. They use the same method, which has become destructive because with the depletion of the forest, the traditional system of kaigin has come to be out of context.

The following should be noted.

First, the value of Mang Cipriano is survival or life. The kaigin is his way of hanap-buhay. He knows that the kaigin is against nature, but what can he do: should he and his family starve? His concern is hanapbuhay, not hanap-pera or pampayaman.

Second, mere legislation is not enough. People like Mang Cipriano, who have no education, need help. They could be trained to be helpful in forest conservation and learn other ways of agriculture whoch do not harm the ecology.

Third, why did the government allow the private logging company to deforest the area? We may compare Mang Cipriano to a bolo and the logging company to a chain saw. The law punishes the bolo, but not the chainsaw.

The courts punish a criminal for killing a person, but not the loggers who denuded the forests of Leyte contributing to the Ormoc tragedy in which some 8,000 people drowned. The government should be more lenient to people like Mang Cipriano, but more strict with the major loggers who connive with politcians and the military.

We have touched many points because the issues of the environment is tied up with macro-ethics. This is not the place to recommend solutions for saving the environment; that goes beyond the scope of ethics, and there are relevant recommendations from those concerned with the ecology. The laws are unjusts because the lawgivers ape the legal system of Western countries. As a result our laws protect more the elite without benefitting the people in general. In another study, I have pointed out the colonial status of our legal philosophy.55 Even if we had the best laws on ecology, their nonimplimentation would be like having no laws at all.

In conclusion, if we poison our environment, we all perish because we are all united. These thoughts are expressed by Joey Ayala and his group, Bagong Lumad, in the song "Magkaugnay":

Lupa, laot, langit

ay magkaugnay

hayop, halaman, tao

ay magkaugnay.

............

Iisa'ng pinagmulan

iisa'ng hantugan

ng ating lahi

kamag-anak at katribo

ang lahat nang narito

sa lupa at sa laot

at sa langit.

Ang lahat ng bagay

ay magkaugnay

magkaugnay ang lahat

ang lahat ng bagay

ay magkaugnay

magkaugnay ang lahat.

(Earth, sea, sky

are interrelated

animals, plants, man

are interrelated.

.......

One beginning

one ending

of our race

relatives and our tribe

everyone here

on earth and at sea

and in the sky.

All the things

are interrelated

everything are interrelated

all the things

are interrelated.)

NOTES

1. For details, see Francisco Demetrio, Encyclopedia of Philippine Folk Beliefs and Customs (Cagayan de Oro City: Xavier University, 1991), 2 volumes.

2. Virgilio S. Almario, "Ecology As Our Ancestors Knew It," Philippine Panorama (26 July 1992), p. 26.

3. Masaru Miyamoto, The Hanunoo-Mangyan: Society, Religion and Law among a Mountain People of Mindoro Island, Philippines (Tokyo: National Museum of Ethnology, 1988), p. 99.

4. Demetrio, Encyclopedia of Philippine Folk Beliefs and Customs, nos. 874-875.

5. Florentino H. Hornedo, "The Traditional Filipino Notion of Nature," in Nature, Science and Values, Readings, ed. by Norberto Castillo (Manila: Santo Tomas University Press, 1988), p. 157.

6. Almario, "Ecology as Our Ancestors Knew It," p. 26. See also the Study of Resil Mojares, "Waiting for Mariang Makiling: History and Folklore," Saint Louis University Research Journal, 19 (December, 1988), 205-215. Mojares says that the Maria Cacao stories are variants of the same theme.

7. Jaime C. Bulatao, Phenomena and their Interpretation, Land mark Essays, 1957-1989 (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1992), pp. 49-53.

8. Ibid., p. 50.

9. Ibid., p. 52.

10. Secularization is the "irreversible process that results from the insight into the autonomy of individuals, societies and the earth itself, free of the controlling authority of religious institutions and beliefs". Secularization, Inculturation and Dialogue in Today's World (Rome: SVD Publications, 1991), p. 8. Secularization is different from secularity (which respects the autonomy of the world while affirming God's relevance) and secularism (which affirms man's radical autonomy and denies God's existence).

11. Leonardo N. Mercado, ed., Filipino Religious Experience and Non-biblical Revelation (Manila: Divine Word Publications, 1992), pp. 85-86.

12. Leonardo N. Mercado, Elements of Filipino Ethics (Tacloban City: Divine Word Publications, 1979).

13. Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 108, a. 2.

14. This has similarity to Melanesian thought. See Ennio Mantovani, "Traditional Value and Ethics," in An Introduction to Melanesian Cultures, ed. by Darrell L. Whiteman (Goroka: The Melanesian Institute, 1984), pp. 195-212.

15. Francisco F. Claver, "Tribal Filipino Values," in Filipino Religious Experience and Non-biblical Revelation, pp. 15-24.

16. F. Landa Jocano, Management By Culture (Quezon City: Punlad Research House, 1990), pp. 36-41.

17. Hermes G. Gutierrez, "Paradise Lost," Filipino Heritage, I, 193-196; Chip Fay, ed., Our Threatened Heritage (Manila: Solidaridad Publishing House, 1989); also as Solidarity, No. 124 (October-December 1989); Eric Gomalinda (ed.), Saving the Earth, The Phillipine Experience (Manila: Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism , 1990); Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources, The Philippine Environment in the Eigthies (Quezon City: Environment Management Bureau, 1990); Percy E. Sajise, et al., Saving the Present for the Future: The State of the Environment (Quezon City: U.P. Center for Integrative and Development Studies and UP Press, 1992).

18. Fay, Our Threatened Heritage, p. 58.

19. Ibid., p. 87.

20. Philippine Daily Globe, July 23, 1992.

21. Philippine Daily Globe, July 29, 1992.

22. Fay, Our Threatened Heritage, p. 87.

23. Sixto Seguiban, "The Red Tide: Deadly Algal Bloom," Philippine Panorama (August 2, 1992), p. 16.

24. Loc. cit.

25. Fay, Our Threatened Heritage, p. 128.

26. Ibid., p. 73.

27. Ibid., p. 78.

28. Ajise et al., Saving the Present for the Future, p. 3.

29. Philippine Daily Inquirer (August 1, 1992), p. 1.

30. Ibid., p. 6.

31. Sajise et al., Saving the Present for the Future, p. 16.

32. Ibid., p. 17.

33. Fay, Our Threatened Heritage, p. 75.

34. Ibid., p. 132.

35. Ibid., p. 77.

36. Ibid., p. 41.

37. See Ricardo Manapat, Some Are Smarter Than Others, The History of Marcos' Crony Capitalism (New York: Aletheia Publications, 1991). Chapter II explains that cronyism has a long history in the country's elite.

38. Fay, Our Threatened Heritage, p. 28.

39. Ibid., p. 35.

40. Ibid., p. 59.

41. Ibid., p. 62.

42. Ibid., pp. 131-132.

43. Ibid., p. 119.

44. Ibid., p. 120.

45. Ibid., p. 123.

46. Marites Danguilan Vitug, The Politics of Logging, Power from the Forest (Manila: Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 1993), p. xiv.

47. Fay, Our Threatened Heritage, p. 117.

48. Abraham B. Velasco, "Ang Ikabubuti ng Kainginero: Isang Pagsusuring Sosyo-sikolohikal ng Pangangaingin sa Pilipinas," Ulat ng Unang Pambansang Kumperensya sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Quezon City: Pambansang Samahan sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino, 1975), pp. 62-86.

49. Ibid., p. 84.

50. Fay, Our Threatened Heritage, p. 133.

51. Ibid., p. 127.

52. Ibid., p. 148.

53. Ibid., p. 42.

54. Karl J. Pelzer, "Defending The Kainginero," Filipino Heritage, II, 365-369.

55. Leonardo N. Mercado, Legal Philosophy: Western, Eastern, and Filipino (Tacloban City; Divine Word University Publications, 1984).