"..a bardy view!"

Philippine Land Grab – disguised as eco-tourism



Jacques Cousteau the famous explorer and conservationist once described Palawan as the last frontier. For good reason. Here was an archipelago of outstanding natural beauty, and he, more than most, understood that protection was the legacy for future generations.

So how does big businesses, and big property developers, justify their mercenary exploitation of the unspoilt?

To them, natural beauty is a golf course waiting to happen, a resort complex, and an emporium squatted by retail multi-nationals selling designer goods.

They do it by dressing it up as sustainable eco-tourism. The catch all phrase. The tart with a heart. Conservationist capitalism. Mercenary magnanimity. Philippine Profitable Philanthropy.

Ayela Land Inc (ALI) intend to build (purely for altruistic motives of course) a “100-hectare development that shall feature hotels and resorts, tourism and commercial establishments and residential communities with world-class amenities that blend with the natural landscape.”

These are not Cinderella’s, but the ugly sisters which squeeze their feet into jewelled slippers. Convinced that any fit is better than none, and an ounce of blood is worth shedding – even if a scar is the result. After all surely any commercial enterprise which aids the economy is better than none? Right? Wrong!

100 hectares is a substantial chunk of real estate, the first 25 hectares is to become the Lio Beach Village “featuring bed and breakfasts, resorts, shops and dining establishments amid civic spaces” which will be developed by Ten Knots Development Corp, which just happens to be a subsidiary of Ayala Land Inc. (The parent. Keep it in the family!)

This has naturally been lauded and applauded by the Philippines Department of Tourism, whose secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. describes it as “a new jewel of sustainable tourism in the Philippines.” Note the word sustainable – synonymous with ecology and conservation. These are the key words which mask the reality. Cousteau will be turning in his grave.

The problem with the Philippines however is that in a land with over 7000 islands it’s surprisingly difficult to find a free beach. Most pieces of beach, be it white sand, black sand, or volcanic sand is owned by someone, who charge money just for the privilege of sitting on one. A resort takes away the freedom, and more importantly removes the locals. Especially the fisherman, who will no doubt be expected to pay a premium just to sail out and sail in – with a catch or not!

That’s not progress, that is exploitation, and it is ruthless because it has the support of the government, whose raison d’etre is not sustainability or culture, but greed and the fast buck.

You see, resorts are victims of the global economy i.e. how many bangs for the buck! It’s a volatile and precarious business, and when a downturn happens the infrastructure suffers, people lose jobs (non jobs associated with service: rooms, restaurants, etc totally dependant on the number of visitors) and invariably when the bottom falls out, the land is sold on. It’s a downward spiral, which cuts into the very ecology which was promoted in the first place. The land has been raped and the agriculture such as coconut trees, bananas, and most indigenous farming and fishing are lost.

What the Philippines government should be doing, and is always decidedly incapable of, is investment in the people. Ensuring that they have proper sustainable employment, encouraging and maintaining the skills that have been garnered over a thousand years, and if necessary subsidising them, because investing in the people and caring for their greatest asset – the land and the seas around it – will ensure worth, value and ultimately self sufficiency with profits all round. Technology may be the future, but a reputation of being the call-centre capital of South East Asia doesn’t really cut the mustard. Like India it will only exist for cheap labour and the service industry.

UNESCO have been threatening for the past five years that the famed rice terraces of the Cordilleras are losing their integrity and will inevitably lose their status as a world heritage site. The terraces which are unique, have been farmed and maintained by skilled tribal people for over two thousand years. They argue that “the terraced landscape is highly vulnerable because the social equilibrium that existed in the rice terraces for the past two millennia has become profoundly threatened by technological and evolutionary changes. Rural-to-urban migration processes limit the necessary agricultural workforce to maintain the extensive area of terraces.”

In simple English this means that the young generation are not following in their fathers and forebears footprints and heading to Manila to seek their fortune. Between the lines it also says that this “migration” makes the land redundant, cannot be sustained, not fit for purpose and therefore prime targets for commercial land grabbers. If you want to know what that is and the horrors it produces, just go to the city in the sky: Baguio – where concrete is king.

A responsible government should be sustaining it’s heritage, not destroying it systematically for short term financial profit, nor pandering to wealthy developers whose hearts are purely mercenary, and leave a legacy of shame, exploitation and avarice.

It will get worse before it gets better – but time is running out, and it will have probably ran out before the people of the Philippines wake up – perpetually somnambulist – perpetually sleepwalking – and whilst they sleep, the politicians, the investment bankers, the fund managers and the speculators are wide awake – singing, celebrating and dancing obscenely on the land!

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Coconut Trees, Conservation, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Politics, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tree Slaughter – More Fun in the Philippines……

“Mile after mile, trees have been felled, and mile after mile those still standing have been marked with the executioners axe – a strip of bark sliced from the trunk – the condemned waiting for death.”
There is a disease that is rampant in the Philippines. It’s a virus, spreads like the plague, and infects all that come into contact with it.
It is unforgiving, affects millions of people, destroys livelihoods, and causes blindness. It’s a virus which is unforgiving, because there is no way back from it. The damage it causes can never be recovered. It is a killer.
It’s not airborne, nor is it a bacterial strain, yet it is man-made. It is a disease born of corruption, greed, and ignorance. There is no cure. It is called Environmental Slaughter.

Along the MacArthur Highway, over 2000 Acacia and Mango trees have been destroyed, many more than 100 years old. It is an unprecedented act of vandalism in the name of progress. The Philippines government decreed that the highway needed widening and with ruthless abandon they embarked on a cultural assault, devoid of any regard to heritage.

Mile after mile, trees have been felled, and mile after mile those still standing have been marked with the executioners axe – a strip of bark sliced from the trunk – the condemned waiting for death.
Businesses, small shop-keepers, homes, communities will all be displaced in the name of progress. Perhaps the highway does need widening? Perhaps there was no alternative?Perhaps nobody thought of an alternative? Why does it matter?

It matters because it’s not just about trees. It’s about heritage. It’s about a country which shouts loudly about culture, yet is prepared to abandon it in the name of progress. It’s about a country which has a superficial regard to it’s history, and whose slogan to attract the tourist is suffixed with…”it’s more fun in the Philippines”. “Beaches are more fun in the Philippines”, “Shopping is more fun in the Philippines”, “Food is more fun in the Philippines”, Scuba Diving, Bird watching, trekking…they are all “more fun in the Philippines”. “Tree slaughter is more fun in the Philippines!”

Corruption is more fun in the Philippines.There is a very serious point here.
Greed is more fun in the Philippines.
Exploitation is more fun in the Philippines.
Poverty is more fun in the Philippines.
This is not quite the message the country wants to project. 
A government which destroys it’s trees and allows (or is too impotent to prevent) deforestation on a massive scale  –  uproots it’s fundamental heritage, riding roughshod over it’s flora and fauna, and employs the word conservation as a euphemism for development. It’s the BIG Lie! The Big Con!
A Government which destroys it’s trees with impunity has no respect for life, culture or heritage. 
Still, no matter. It’s fun that matters.  “Fun…it’s more fun in the Philippines!”

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Philippines Land Grab – disguised as eco-tourism
More trees to be cut for Makiling road
The Pope, the Philippines, Argentina and the British……
1,829 trees to be killed for road plan
Deadline to finish off trees for road: Feb. 12

January 28, 2014 Posted by | Conservation, Culture, Education, Politics, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bardiness #300

"Who said watching paint dry wasn't fun?"

They couldn't have been more wrong!  Bar de Collage

I've been neglecting my platform here due to a new-found interest in watercolour painting (some examples on the right).

I find it more enjoyable than writing. Don't get me wrong, I'm still opinionated with specific observations and have considerable issues to address which normally I would dissect and present in an informative and humorous way as possible.

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August 12, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Culture, General, The Philippines, Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

Mount Mayon erupts – with fatal consequences………

"Mayon volcano is an enigmatic personality. The more she
does this, the more they will come. The more the danger, the more the

So says Albay Governor Joey Salceda, after Mount Mayon gave a 73-second explosion killing five climbers on 7th May 2013.

MayonThe state seismologist said the explosion was triggered when the
rainwater made contact with hot ash deposits on the crater mouth. That makes
sense - a bit like adding water to a sizzling frying pan.

It's rather unfortunate that Governor Salceda couldn't have
chosen his words more appropriately. eg "This is a terrible tragedy. My
sympathies go out to the victims and their families. We will do everything to
learn from this, and investigate how this appalling accident occurred."
– it's a stock response, in the files of
every person in a high position of public service – but not in Salceda's. No, to him it
will bring more tourists. If that’s not what he meant it’s certainly how it

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May 8, 2013 Posted by | Conservation, Current Affairs, Education, History, Mount Mayon Volcano, Politics, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Captain Cook and the USS Guardian…

USS_GuardianIn 1770 Captain Cook's HMS Endeavour grounded on the
unchartered waters of the Great Barrier Reef and got stuck.

Through exceptional seamanship he lightened his load and with a severely
damaged hull was able to free his ship, and nurse her towards a safe harbour
for repairs.

He had no state of the art navigation, no electronic devices, no
sea-bed imaging and no satellite communication.

On January 17, 2013, the USS Guardian, a 223ft minesweeper,
costing $277 million, commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Mark Rice, ran aground on the
Tubbataha Reef, in the Philippines.

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April 2, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Books, Conservation, Current Affairs, Education, History, The Philippines, Travel, United Kingdom, USA | , , , , | Leave a comment

Prince Philip in hot water over the Philippines


Prince Philip meets Filipina nurse

"Just put it there pal!"

Prince Philip has hit the headlines again in his own
inimitable style, with what some consider another of his famous gaffes.


for his jokey persona he tends to dispel the restrictions of diplomatic speak
and just pops up with the first thing which enters his head.

And why not? He's 91 years old with a great sense of humour.

Some perceive his words as racist or insulting (not normally by those on the receiving end) and it's the media who run with them trying to make
a story out of nothing.

Philip is reported as saying to a Filipina nurse that he
thinks her country must be half empty as most are over here in the UK running the NHS (note he said "running"). I suspect he meant it as a compliment – after all, he spent a lot
of time in hospital since the Queen's Jubilee Pageant on the Thames where he
was getting soaked to the skin and having his royal bollocks frozen off, so he
probably saw first-hand the various nationalities employed as health care
staff, and clearly they made an impression on him.

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February 20, 2013 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Europe, London, Politics, The Philippines, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Will a kindle light my fire? What the Dickens is it all about?

Kindle2I bought a Kindle recently.

Not the "Paperwhite" or "Fire". Just the lightest and most basic.

There's a limit to how many bells and whistles I need to rattle my cage.

I held off for a while because being a traditionalist I was averse to replacing the standard book.

Apart from all the free e-books available I decided to purchase the complete works of William Shakespeare, Joseph Conrad, and Charles Dickens. All for under six quid.

Those collections alone would fill a couple of
bookcases, so imagine being able to have them all on a single device that can fit in a

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December 22, 2012 Posted by | Books, Culture, Education, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

President Aquino and the wheelchair joke in New Zealand

AquinoI have a bone to pick with President Aquino of the Philippines.

I know that he is the son of the assassinated Benigno, I know he is the son of Cory who came
to power after Ferdinand Marcos was exiled due to the People Power Revolution, and I sympathise
with his attempts at changing the corrupt mentality which pervades Philippines

I even understand his bitter annoyance at his predecessor Gloria

So why am I upset with him? After all, surely he represents
the new face of the Philippines? A man on a mission, keen to drag his country
into prosperity, moving forward yet embracing his nation’s culture. Yes, well,
let's pause on that for a moment.

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October 25, 2012 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Olympic Games, Politics, The Philippines | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Philippines Cyber Crime Law

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights
provides the right to freedom of expression. To include the freedom to hold
opinions and either to receive or impart information and ideas without
interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

In English case law, that right is extended (see Bardiness
) that freedom of speech could not be limited to the inoffensive but also to
the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome,
and the provocative, as long as such speech did not tend to provoke violence.

Indeed, article 10 also accords the right to be offensive.
Being offensive is very different to being libellous, which in civil law is a
minefield to manoeuvre through. This is one of the contentious issues enacted
in the new Philippines Cyber Crime Law.

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October 3, 2012 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Education, facebook, History, Politics, The Philippines | , | 3 Comments

Honesty in the Philippines…….


"Is it so unusual that Filipinos display such honesty that the world and his wife should learn about it?"

A Manila calesa driver has been applauded for his honesty
and his action was reported in the Philippines national press.

Jaime Mayor received a reward from the NPDC for returning a wallet to some French
tourists who left it on his carriage after a trip around Rizal Park.

The National Parks Development Committee said they
hoped that Filipinos emulate Jaime's example of honesty.

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September 14, 2012 Posted by | Culture, Education, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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