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Nation

Bulakeños to hold trek to save Biak na Bato park

- Dino Balabo -
SAN MIGUEL, Bulacan — Hundreds of Bulakeños are trekking to Biak na Bato National Park here next week in a move to save it from indiscriminate mining.

Led by the Dangal ng Bulacan Foundation (DBF), a non-government organization composed of professional and influential Bulakeños, the "save Biak na Bato trek" will culminate with the signing of an appeal addressed to President Arroyo.

The DBF is joined by the Bulacan Tourism Council, Bulacan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Bulakan Koalisyon Inc.

Biak na Bato played an important role in the country’s history as its caves and forests provided refuge to Filipino revolutionaries during the wars they waged against the Spaniards, Americans and the Japanese.

Besides its historical value, Biak na Bato also serves as a natural barrier against destructive waves and winds from the Pacific Ocean in the eastern part of Bulacan.

Its rich limestone deposits serve as an aquifer of the river system that emanates from natural springs on its upper slopes.

Its forests serve as a natural watershed and prevent soil erosion and flooding in the lowlands of Bulacan and nearby provinces like Pampanga.

Third district Rep. Lorna Silverio said Biak na Bato also has a potential of being a world-class ecotourism destination.

However, local environmental advocates fear that indiscriminate mining within the vicinity of Biak na Bato could desecrate the national park and cause landslides, flash floods and other geologic hazards.

"If we develop the park into a world-class tourist destination, we can preserve its beauty because we can generate funds that will be used (to further develop it)," Silverio said.

Besides, she said such a program could generate jobs for the local folk and spur economic activities in nearby areas.

Without an informed and decisive intervention, Silverio said Biak na Bato could soon deteriorate into an irreversible state of degradation.

Meanwhile, Bulakeños wonder if the save Biak na Bato trek would actually stop marble quarrying in the area.

AMERICANS AND THE JAPANESE BATO BATO NATIONAL PARK BIAK BULACAN BULACAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY BULACAN FOUNDATION BULACAN TOURISM COUNCIL BULAKAN KOALISYON INC HUNDREDS OF BULAKE LORNA SILVERIO
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