The folly of tampering with nature

Dolomite sand-covered beach front of the Manila Bay to impress visitors but waters are not safe for swimming.Photo by George Calvelo of ABS-CBN News.

Pictures indeed speak a thousand words.

The government opened its showcase Manila Bay white beach Saturday to impress the public with the beautification that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had done to the historic harbor.

What we saw were hypocrisy and inconsistency.

The comparison of critics of the DENR’s dumping of dolomite sand on the shores of Manila Bay to a woman who put on make up without washing her face was most apt with photos of government personnel gathering trash along the bay, next to the white sand- covered area. The clean-up activity was to mark International Coastal Cleanup Day.

In ABS-CBN’s pictorial, there was a sign “Observe social distancing” next to DPWD-SMDEO traffic blocker and in the background are people standing close to each other.

(Update: News reports said Manila Police District Director Rolando Miranda issued an administrative relief against Ermita Police Station Commander Ariel Caramoan after he supposedly failed to implement safety protocols at the controversial baywalk during Saturday’s event.)

Defenders of the controversial white beach on Manila Bay were ecstatic about the presence of egrets mistakenly concluding that they are signs of a clean environment.

Wilfrido Guerrero, in aFacebook comment, said, “The presence of those birds is not necessarily a sign that the waters are clean. Those birds have become scavengers.” And there were some to scavenge as DPWH personnel participating in the clean up drive were seen picking up some fish, some of them dead, and throwing them back to the sea.

There was also the “No swimming” warning not far from the white sand beach which is an admission that the waters of Manila Bay are unhealthy for such exercise.

A discerning Facebook post by Gerone Jan Baladhay, whose profile says he was formerly editor-in-chief of Fig Magazine, showed contrastingphotos of a flock of egrets on Manila Bay last Saturday and an excavatedmountain with the caption reminding people thatthe beautification of that short stretch of area in Metro Manila had caused the destruction of a mountain from where the crushed dolomite came from.

“You like the view but you forget the bigger picture,” Baladhay said.

The dumping of the dolomite sand from Cebu on the shores of Manila Bay, more than five hundred kilometers away from each other, reminds me of a memorable scene from the movie, Jurassic Park, when the mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm played by Jeff Goldblum, saw the dinosaur theme park that the wealthy businessman John Hammond, played by Richard Attenborough, had created.

Malcolm warned Hammond about danger of tampering with God’s creation.God created dinosaurs to roam the world millions of years ago. They have become extinct. Man has no business bringing them back to life to this age. One does not tamper with God’s timeline and design without suffering the dangers of such hubris. Think of the devastating floods and killer landslides because forests were denuded and mountains were destroyed. Man intruded into the wild and brought back the curse that is now the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The lack of humility before nature being displayed here staggers me,” Malcolm said. "Don’t you see the danger, John, inherent in what you’re doing here?”

That’s the question that should be asked the people behind those that destroyed the dolomite mountains in Cebu to make the beach of Manila Bay white.


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