Journal

Magkaugnay | Opinion

Magkaugnay is a Filipino term more or less meaning interconnected. This feels like it is the best word I can relate geology to, at least as of the moment.

Seeing the daily prompt, Gorge, I immediately thought about the Wawa Gorge where I spent a lot of times during the summer of 2013 for my undergrad Field Geology course. And then I came to ponder on the geologic mapping fieldwork I am on right now. Which actually isn’t the real reason why I mentioned magkaugnay earlier.

Okay, I should probably tell you why.

A couple of days earlier when my team and I went across the sea to a group of smaller islands in order to conduct a geologic mapping survey there, I almost teared up. If we weren’t there for work I would have focused on my emotions then towards the environment I was seeing. When you look at it on a large scale basis, the scenery is magnificently breathtaking. I don’t always go on boat rides so imagine how amusing it was for me.

Off to the island!

The first stop was at the main port of the island municipality (a group of villages) with a couple of thousands of populace. There was the first strike. The place stunk. We went to the capitol next because, again, we had work. That’s where I learned that the place had a sanitation problem because by-laws do not allow the creation of a sanitary landfill site within the island. I won’t delve into details but that was what’s pretty much said. I figured they were blaming the authorities for their trash problems. It was said that they do composting. However, because of the lack of a landfill site, recyclables often get included in the pit or get burned. Which is wrong. I mean I get it, they don’t have anywhere else to put but I thought they should have come up with alternative solutions that do not further degrade the environment. Segregation – and an increase of awareness and skills on this – would probably lessen the stench along the port area, where a number of households are.

Then, we had to (almost) circle around the rest of the island by boat because a lot of the fresh rock exposures are along the beach. And truly, there were awesome outcrops we got to study. However, as we moved at sea, I couldn’t help but take note of the trail of trash floating. That was the second strike. Plastics, rubber, styro were sailing away even at a couple of nautical miles from the shore. That wasn’t fun to observe. I took a lot of videos of what I saw there so I’d probably share it once I’ve gotten time to make a mini movie.

You see, I almost wanted to avoid getting off the boat because of the piles of trash floating and ashore. But that was almost impossible because of our work there. Then finally, we went to one of the coves in an islet. I didn’t have any expectations at all because we were focused on the finding our target.

But what we encountered in that cove was the biggest shock of all. That probably was the most trash I’ve seen that wasn’t in a sanitary landfill site. It wasn’t the most because, trust me, I experienced worse when I was part of a landfill assessment team.

Trash Talk

Trash Talk

While talking to the boatman who said that the trash had been brought about by flooding in the mainland and uplands as well as strong currents from typhoons, I told him that shouldn’t be an excuse. Think about it, if the residents and visitors at least thought about what would happen when they litter, then this kind of nightmare would more or less be avoided. The mainland (Luzon) is about 30 minutes to an hour by boat and the municipality I was talking about was about 15 minutes from this cove.

Human nature might be the prime reason for this. Survival of the fittest, I’d say. One of my bosses once said in an Earth Day speech that the earth can actually save itself. Saving the earth movements are just one of humans’ selfish ways to save themselves. I’ve been thinking of this every time I’m in between outcrops since that day, humans tend to do whatever to survive without caring for the other elements in the surroundings. As long as the best conditions for one’s self is achieved, then it should be fine. If people from the uplands and non-residents and everyone else would just learn to care for the rest of the world then maybe everything will be better.

That’s how we are more or less interconnected. While “us” saving the earth might be just part of our selfishness, we can not deny how we are interrelated. We largely depend on our environment for everything and it’s about time to be selfless and think about what we can leave as a legacy to the rest of the generations to come.

Why not start by avoiding the use of straws then?

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