According to scientific analysis and preliminary government reports alike, the reason for the massive landslide that took so many lives last week is clear: It was logging. The steep slopes above the buried village were denuded of all their trees. Ancient forests had been carved away by greed and indifference. The delicate forest ecosystem had melted under the weight of machines and "progress," and so the ancient mountain then melted away onto the little village below.
We ignore the balance of nature and her delicate engineering at our own peril. The roots that held the earth in place for millennia were no longer there when the rains came this winter. No mighty trees stood above the earth to soften the blow of each drop of water as it fell upon the naked ground. No plant life sucked the excess moisture from the soil. No groundcover slowed the erosion as the topsoil bled down the slopes and rendered the land infertile. And, it seems, no forest embrace was there to save the little village from the fallout when the real cost of the timber barons' profits were exacted -- not from the timber barons, but from the people of the village at the foot of the mountain.
This is not just a far away phenomenon. Our mountains, too, bear the awful, dangerous scars of the timber barons's hands. No matter how many silly placards they place that say, "Planted!" they cannot hide the fact that they were, in fact, not planted but cut down. Savaged. Destroyed. What will be the real price of these naked hillsides? Will we have landslides too? Or will ours be a price exacted in poisoned water, infertile ground, unfiltered air? What can we possibly expect when we allow them to do these things?
When the mud is finally cleared away in Leyte, it will be time to turn the face of justice toward the Timber Barons and those who colluded with them. And it is already time, here, to stop them from externalizing their costs carelessly onto us. God damn the loggers.