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2010 Year on Biodiversity: Mindanao environmental songwriting workshop created songs on land, biodiversity problems

Davao City --- To create new and fresh songs for the environment that reflect the different environmental issues in Mindanao was the main objective of the recently concluded Mindanao Environmental Song Writing Workshop held in St. Benedictine Priory, Ulas.

Timed for the June 5 World Environment day, the activity was spearheaded by environmental rights groups Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC-Phils) and PANALIPDAN Southern Mindanao together with Tugtugang Bayan cultural group and KATRIBU sectoral group.

Popong Landero, Davao-based artist known for his unique song craftsmanship and indigenous styles was one of the trainers for the workshop participated by 15 young aspiring composers from different grass root communities in Mindanao.

“This initiative is part of our goal to strengthen environmental rights advocacy campaign for Mindanao which is confronted with intensifying threats by developmental projects such as large-scale mining, dams, massive land and crop conversion and other profit-driven projects by multinational capitalists,” said Francis Morales, acting secretary general of PANALIPDAN Southern Mindanao.

CEC – Philippines' Lisa Ito said that through the workshop they are targeting the production of an environmental album containing around 10 to 12 tracks that will depict the various issues in Mindanao from the perspective of the Mindanaons who hail from Marawi, Iligan, North Cotobato, Sarangani, General Santos, Cotobato City, Cagayan and Davao region.

Workshop delegates exemplified the current problem in Diwalwal, Compostela Valley and said the possible takeover of private large scale mining company Philex on the supposedly state-managed mining reservation area “is a huge tragedy tantamount to the betrayal of our national patrimony.”

Another concern is the construction of the Pulangi V mega dam which will threaten the Pulangi River, a critical biodiversity area being one of the tributaries of the Rio Grande of Mindanao. The project will submerge more than 30 lumad communities in Bukidnon alone and spell catastrophic damages to the water ecosystem in the Bukidnon and North Cotobato and in Mindanao as a whole.

These and other issues will highlight the alternative album that the organizers are targeting for release by early next year in time for the 2011 Earth Day.

In 2008, mainstream artists such as Aiza Segeurra, Cookie Chua, Lolita Carbon and Chikoy Pura of the Jerks volunteered to perform in a similar album production entitled Rapu-Rapu Taghoy ng Kalikasan* which in turn highlighted the environmental issues in Bicol.