Surigao town to launch tarpaulin campaign against mining

MADRID, Surigao del Sur (MindaNews/23 August) – Residents living here and abroad are about to launch a campaign using tarpaulin signage to be placed outside their homes and in public areas all over town in the hope to gather additional support in the call against the planned mining exploration in the area.

File photo of a "No to mining" tarpaulin campaign in Barangay Esperanza, Carmen, Surigao del Sur photographed last July 22, 2012. The campaign has inspired residents of the neighboring town of Madrid to launch their own campaign in the hope to deter the planned large-scale mining exploration. (MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas)The idea was inspired by the ongoing similar campaign using different printed materials in the neighboring town of Carmen which started in the barangays of Sta. Cruz, Puyat and Esperanza. In Barangay Esperanza alone, about 70 percent of the households have tarpaulins hanging outside their houses with a message “No to mining.”

“We want to convey the message that the town is not in favor of any mining activity here and in its neighboring towns. This is also to show our love for our town and show that by heart we are patriots,” said Mario Llamas, president of the local Parish Pastoral Council and a member of the Diocesan Social Action Center.

He said the tarpaulins would be printed with different designs and concepts but retaining the “makabayan” (nationalistic) flavor.

“There are so many reasons why we love our small town. We have plenty of scenic spots and tourist destinations, bountiful harvest, thick rain forest and watershed area, and so much more. But all of these will be threatened if we allow large-scale mining operations to come to our area unchecked,” he warned.

Dentist Ging Arreza Ayado stated that it is about time for the people to unite.

“This is a good start. We need the campaign so that we can bring the sentiments of the people and let the authorities and people in power know that we are really against mining. Those who are still in doubt, or in fear, would now be encouraged to speak out and shout in the open that they are against mining,” said Ayado.

Nikki Arpilleda Orzales-Yu, who was born and raised in Madrid but is now based in Houston, Texas, appealed to fellow Madrid natives and those from neighboring Carmen and Cantilan towns who are now staying abroad to pool resources and help in the cause.

“If you look at the photos, you will see how much destruction these mining operations have brought to neighboring towns such as Carrascal and Cantilan or the town of Claver in Surigao del Norte,” Yu said in her appeal through a popular networking site. She said she can’t imagine what happened to these towns will also happen in Madrid

“It would be devastating to come home one day and just witness the town that we love so much fall in ruin in exchange for other people’s personal gain or greed,” Yu said in an online interview.

Jane Buniel Israel Degoma, another Madrid native and now based in Tennessee, expressed her optimism on the action, stating that no matter where they are around the world they will show their care for their hometown by any means supporting the cause and help in the printing expense.

“This campaign will show the true colors of the people, if they really care for Madrid or not. This action is significant since it will be able to convince most, if not all, the people of Madrid not to let the miners touch our mountains because of the so many reasons we showed them through the pictures printed in the tarpaulin,” said Degoma.

There are no large-scale mining companies now operating within the town but town folks fear that the ongoing operation in the watershed of Carac-an River which borders Cantilan and Carrascal towns will destroy the water supply for agriculture and homes.

Another concern is the alleged planned mining exploration in the neighboring town of Carmen which local residents also fear will take a toll on the agricultural communities nearby. (Erwin Mascariñas / MindaNews)