The vanishing hills of Consolacion, Cebu

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas - The Freeman

Calling the attention please of DENR Secretary Paje and environmental lawyers and advocates in Cebu!

Have you visited Consolacion lately?

Consolacion of the past evoked beautiful green farms and lovely hills that allowed cows to be well fed and bred and for fresh food crops to abundantly grow and be available to interested buyers. Consolacion's natural beauty provided a welcome respite each day, especially to the city residents who wanted to breathe fresh air, eat freshly harvested corn, and enjoy the traditional offerings of the town.

We visited Danglag, Consolacion this week and were so shocked to see for ourselves how one beautiful hill that was still standing February of this year has completely been leveled to the ground and is now gone!

Quarrying is very actively pursued in the area and, as this article is written, there are still more hills being quarried and perhaps, after several months, more hills of Consolacion will be lost to business?

Is it now the policy to allow quarrying to level hills completely and not leave any of the previous, rich natural beautiful resource to remain?

The flurry of heavy trucks plying the route from the hills taking limestone from the hills of Consolacion makes one wonder whether the DENR and environmental advocates and lawyers are aware of what is happening to Consolacion's environment now.

This is not the first time, however, that we witnessed hills in Consolacion being quarried and leveled off. During our visits to the Garing National High School, then very actively pursuing their laudable Paper Recycling Project (PREP), many nearby hills have already been quarried or being leveled then.

Decades back, we already called the attention of concerned agencies and individuals. Apparently, nothing has changed as more of the inner portions of what used to be naturally beautiful Consolacion are now being actively quarried, with no seeming hesitation to level and flatten hills.

Is that the present DENR policy? Are the present quarrying activities in Consolacion and expectedly, elsewhere throughout the rest of Cebu, with official DENR permission and with regular DENR monitoring? We certainly hope so as natural resources like hills can never be recreated by human beings.

Quarrying of certain Chocolate Hills in Bohol was gratefully halted and except for the latest earthquake that leveled off certain hills , Bohol's Chocolate Hills are still proudly displaying their natural beauty for all to enjoy, not to mention the hills still be used to produce crops for the residents in the area.

Can the hills and natural resources of Consolacion be saved and preserved? This municipality is located near the cities of Mandaue and Cebu. The central area looks like it is being transformed rather quickly to look like any regular urban commercial area. The common chain restaurants and department stores are lined up to attract customers. The roads are still in the midst of widening or repairs. Traffic, expectedly, is heavy, with public transport drivers still lacking discipline and road manners. Traffic management is also needing more efficient system.

The town appears prematurely being rushed to look like a developed urban area. However, the process cannot be imposed without proper public information and collaboration. Otherwise, the town, at best, will result in an artificially forced situation and will lose what used to be distinctively Consolacion, a town accessible to yet different from the other cities of Cebu because of its rich natural resources, lush farms, and proud hills.

Calling DENR and all environmental advocates, please, please visit and help protect the natural heritage of Consolacion and other parts of Cebu soonest!













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