Errol Abada Gatumbato

Occupancy in Northern Negros Natural Park


Northern Negros Natural Park accounts the largest remaining forest cover in West Visayas Biogeographic Zone*

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January 22, 2014 Posted by | Protected Areas | , , , , | 2 Comments

Why coal when renewable energy is feasible?


Map courtesy of Negros Occidental Provincial Planning and Development Office*


It is very interesting that San Carlos City in northern Negros Occidental province is now maximizing the potential of renewable energy as a major source of power. In fact, it is not only San Carlos that will benefit from it, because it is expected that the energy produced in the three renewable energy plants in the city will also be fed into the national power grid. This leads me to ask why some local officials are still promoting and insisting on the development of non-renewable coal-fired energy plants when, in fact, renewable energy is feasible in Negros Occidental?

The construction of the 35-hectare solar farm is now ongoing and it is expected to produce 22 megawatts of electricity. As the name itself implies, solar energy is sourced from sunlight and it is considered as one of the cleanest sources of energy that will not contribute to carbon emission. The two other power plants in San Carlos City are the bio-ethanol and the biomass plants. Although the bio-ethanol plant primarily produces ethanol (a biofuel mixed with gasoline for cars) out of sugarcane, it can also generate electricity. On the other hand, the biomass power plant uses wastes from sugarcanes to produce electricity.

Coal is considered a non-renewable resource because it is only good for as long as its supplies last. The burning of coal to produce energy is known to tremendously emit carbon in the atmosphere, which is not only detrimental to the environment, but to the health of the people, too. It is therefore necessary that officials, from the province to cities and towns in Negros Occidental, reconsider their position in energy development.

The Environment Code of Negros Occidental, that was enacted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in 2005, clearly provides that the energy development in the province “shall be pursued in a manner that will not degrade the state of the environment.” This is stipulated in Section 80 of the Code that further states, “As such, preference will be on the development of renewable power sources.”

The Code envisioned that Negros Occidental should be supplied 100 percent with renewable energy that would lead to the decommissioning of non-renewable energy plants in the province. I am not sure if the provincial government has already mapped out potential sources of renewable energy in Negros Occidental. The Environment Code mandates that one year after its enactment, the province shall prepare a map of potential renewable energy sources. It also stipulates, “Based on the data available, a renewable energy development plan shall be prepared primarily to identify the areas and communities that can be serviced adequately by renewable energy sources and to identify the strategy to tap potentials.”

At this point in time, when the use of carbon and other greenhouse gases is being discouraged, and, in fact, should be eliminated, it is only logical that potential sources of renewable energy be identified and sourced. These gases constitute the volume of emission in the atmosphere and destroy the ozone layer, which shields the Earth from the direct heat of sunlight and helps regulate the climatic pattern of the world. Unfortunately, the damage to the ozone layer is already irreversible and it is being viewed as one major factor that contributes to the phenomenon of climate change. (This article was also published in the Visayan Daily Star, 06 January 2014 issue)*

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Renewable Energy | Leave a comment

Low trekking season in Mount Kanla-on



Photo courtesy of MKNP Facebook Page*

The Office of the Protected Area Superintendent of the Mount Kanla-on Natural Park announced that booking for trekking in the area is already full from January to February.

Bookings to climb the summit of MKNP are only available in March and onwards. The MKNP’s Protected Area Management Board, the site-based policy-making body of one of the 13 protected areas in the Philippines as proclaimed by Congress, has declared January and February as low trekking season.

Under this condition, only a limited number of trekkers are allowed in a month.

MKNP is the pioneering protected area in the country that has crafted and implemented a mountaineering guideline. It was during my time as the park superintendent when the first mountaineering policy was approved in 1999, based on various considerations, such as the nature of MKNP as an active volcano, and trails leading to the summit are known as important wildlife habitat, among others.

In spite of the fact that the four-kilometer radius from the crater of the volcano is categorized as a permanent danger zone, and supposedly no human activities shall be allowed, the management did consider the potential of Mount Kanla-on for recreational purposes, like mountaineering. The summit of MKNP, at 2,435 meters above sea level, is the highest peak in central Philippines. MKNP is one of the most popular mountaineering destinations in the country.

There are four officially-designated mountaineering trails in Mount Kanla-on – the Wasay trail in Murcia, Guintubdan trail in Bago and La Carlota Cities, and Mananawin and Mapot trails in Canlaon City.

Under the existing guideline, only a maximum of 10 members are allowed in every expedition and only one expedition party per trail will be allowed in a given time. It is also mandatory that every expedition will have a compulsory guide for a ratio of one guide to five climbers. MKNP was also the first protected area in the Philippines that has developed its own guideline for the accreditation of porters and guides.

Mountaineering in MKNP is open in March to May, and October to December. Other months are low season for trekking in Mount Kanlaon, wherein only one expedition party is allowed in every trail per month. However, in the event that PAGASA declares weather disturbance, or the PHIVOLCS declares volcanic activity, MKNP will be closed automatically from mountaineering.

It is mandatory to secure a climbing permit from the Office of the Park Superintendent, and this shall be issued following submission of a booking form, mountaineer information sheet and notarized waiver of responsibility of the climbing party members, and payment of required fees. It is highly recommended that booking shall be made at least three months before the expedition schedule. No one is allowed to enter the park for mountaineering without the approved permit from the park superintendent.

Each expedition party is required to have climbing equipment, to include individual sleeping bags, tent, pressure stove for cooking and first aid kit. Only ready-to-cook foods are allowed in mountaineering. MKNP is also adopting a policy on “carry-in, carry-out policy”, that means that no garbage should be left in the area.* (This Article was also published in the Visayan Daily Star, 13 January 2014).

January 20, 2014 Posted by | Conservation Initiatives, Ecotourism | Leave a comment

2013 at

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment