Saturday, July 28, 2012

Open Letter to Save Davao Shrine Hills

Background of why we need to Save Davao Shrine Hills... please check the website: Save Davao Shrine Hills 


July 24, 2012
An open letter to all councilors of the 16th City Council of Davao City

Dear councilors,

“Do not doubt the power of thoughtful, committed citizens to change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever did.” These were the words of cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead in the 1970s. They still reverberate around the globe in places, for instance, where powerful transnational companies wreaking havoc on biodiversity and humanity are being successfully opposed by a handful of determined individuals. Nothing is impossible because everywhere, government, business, and civil society are working together to create a better world. Just look at the wonderful success stories of green cities like Portland (America), Curritiba (Brazil), Malmo (Sweden), Barcelona (Spain), Melbourn (Australia), Bogota (Colombia), Copenhagen (Denmark), Vancouver (Canada), and Reykjavic (Iceland)!

In Davao City, it’s been 6 years since the dynamic team of Barangay Maa Federation of Homeowner Associations started going to the Sangguniang Panglungsod to ask councilors to Save Davao Shrine Hills. Today the campaign has evolved into saving Davao Shrine Hills by turning it into a nature park. We from the global Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies through Initiatives, Organizing, and Networking (MISSION) fully support this wonderful turn of events.

More than 8,000 signatures have been gathered from Davaoenos who want to turn Davao Shrine Hills into a nature park. More support is pouring in. Add to this the political will of Davao City councilors who banned smoking in public places, banned plastic bags in the market and malls, created a bicycle lane ordinance, stopped aerial spraying in banana plantations, and numerous other LGU projects big and small. The spotlight is now on the campaign to turn Davao Shrine Hills into a nature park and the political will of the 24 councilors to stand firm and be united to see it brought to fruition despite all the money already poured in by developers to build subdivisions on Davao Shrine Hills. Despite landowners there wanting to build houses on the dangerous slopes or sell their plots of land!

The Environmental Watch Committee’s beautiful comprehensive powerpoint last July 23, 2012 says it all: there are too many advantages of creating a vast nature park in the middle of Davao City! What are we waiting for? Our children today know far too much about malls, about television shows, and about computer games. Our children today stay at home too much and are far too clean, too careful, too timid, too afraid to try new things, to get dirty, to explore new relationships with other children who look different from them, who speak a different language, and who think and behave differently. A nature park in Davao City will make a big difference in children’s lives for sure. Political will.

Just imagine a nature park in the city – with indigenous trees, flowers, birds, and insects – that doesn’t forbid children to climb and explore, to crawl and examine, to walk and lie down on the grass, to be quiet and mull over the mystery of the sky, to close their eyes and listen to birdsong, to play hide and seek and tag and patintero with all their might, to laugh out loud till it hurts, to shriek in surprise again and again and again, to unabashedly shout for joy! Children need a nature park in the city where they can go on picnics and read without their thoughts being drowned out by loud music over a PA system. Children need a nature park in the city to go bird watching and bike around, and gather under the trees, between the flowers, surrounded by butterflies to talk about their purpose for existing. Political will.

The timing is perfect to turn Davao Shrine Hills into a nature park. This January 29 – February 2, 2013 there will be a Liwanag World Festival on Sustainability and Creativity right here in Davao City that will gather the best of the world’s most sustainable initiatives in governance, in education, in science, in business, and so on. Thousands of Filipinos and visitors from abroad will meet in Davao City to be inspired by each other’s sustainable initiatives whose flames they’ll bring back to their own communities and light up the Philippines and the world. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the Liwanag World Festival on Sustainability and Creativity will be held in a city that is striving to be a sustainable city in the truest sense of the word ?

Respectfully yours,

Maya Vandenbroeck
Kate Estember
Tina Suelto
Darlene Suelto
Leo Avila
Melma Abasolo
Gina Cembrano
Monica Ayala
Arjun Marapon
Ellen Trazo
Art Suelto
Neng Suelto
Paolo Suelto
Rhon delos Santos

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