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Life-giving plants battle death at Mount Pulag

Aug1 by quierosaber

(This is a reprint of an article written by Michael A. Bengwayan,VERA Files, and published in Yahoo! News Philippines, bearing the same title. I commend the author for his expose about the rape of Mount Pulag by unscrupulous individuals and the destruction of its endemic flora and fauna. In the same breath, I join the author and the concerned environmentalists in calling for government and its appropriate agencies to act fast in preserving what appears to be a distressing scenario of Mount Pulag by apprehending and prosecuting violators and ensuring that future generation of Filipinos will be able to enjoy, benefit and live from this richly endowed mountain park heritage – Quierosaber.)

Yew tree

Mount Pulag, whose fertile environment nurtures life-prolonging plant species, is in danger of dying.

Environmentalists are concerned that Mount Pulag’s mossy forest, where a specie of the cancer-curing Yew tree is found, is being killed by illegal vegetable gardeners, loggers, and squatters.

One significant plant specie in Mount Pulag is the Philippine or Sumatran yew (Taxus sumatrana). A study conducted by the Kao-shiung-based Sun Yat Sen University has revealed Sumatran yew contains elements that could cure cancer.

Taxol, the revolutionary drug for ovarian and breast cancer, was developed from the bark of the Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia) found in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington states in the United States) forests more than 50 years ago.

The Kalanguya tribe of Pulag also believe in the life-prolonging elements of the Sumatran yew and use it as tea.

Mount Pulag is the second highest peak in the country standing 2,954 meters above sea level, connecting the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya. Its summit is covered with grass and dwarf bamboo plants. At lower elevations, the mountainside has a mossy forest veiled with fog, and full of ferns, lichens and moss. Below this is the pine forest growing on barren, rocky slopes. Falls, rivers and small lakes mark the area. This makes it a favorite of mountaineers, nature lovers and hikers.

The Park contains a unique diversity of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic to the mountain. Its wildlife includes threatened mammals such as the Philippine Brown Deer, Northern Luzon Giant Cloud Rat and the Luzon Pygmy Fruit Bat. One can also find several orchid species some of which are possibly endemic to Mt. Pulag, and other rare flora such as the pitcher plant.

One of the nation’s most critical watersheds, Mount Pulag provides the water necessities of many stakeholders for domestic and industrial use, irrigation, hydroelectric power production and aquaculture. It is a major headwater for Ambuclao, Binga and San Roque dams. Destruction of the national park means the siltation of the dams.

A few dedicated workers of the Department of Environment and Natural resources (DENR) are determined to protect the 11,550 hectares wilderness created by then Pres. Corazon C. Aquino as a National Park in February 20, 1987 from illegal mountain intruders.

One day recently, Emerita B. Albas, DENR Mount Pulag parks superintendent, came to the office of Cordillera Ecological Center (PINE TREE), in tears having lost all the cases they filed in court against forest destroyers. She also said she and her staff have been receiving death threats.

As early as 2004, Albas said many intruders started bulldozing many parts of the park. Recently, they apprehended a backhoe operator ravaging Tabeyeo Lake but the case was also dismissed. The backhoe was not even confiscated by the authorities. Tabeyeo lake went dry last summer.

Roy Lupos, who once worked as a park ranger in Pulag said those who have intruded into the park are not merely gardeners. The forest destroyers are rich, he claimed. To bring in chainsaws, bulldozers and backhoes as well and trucks for the logs in clearing a forest needs millions of pesos, he stressed.

Already in the tentative list of the World Heritage Convention under natural category, the widespread destruction may derail Mount Pulag’s chances of making it to the final list.

Albas said the problem in Mount Pulag is that many of the intruders claim to own parts of Mount Pulag. They make use of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRAS) in invoking their claim.

But by biological reality, the vast majority of the land has never been occupied. The intense growth of trees, plants, ferns and other botanical biodiversity tells of thousands of years of growth. Meaning, Albas explained, no one has really been dwelling in the forest. “So most of the intruders are outsiders,” she said.

Inocencio Nerio, an agriculturist of PINE TREE said the gardeners have invaded into Mount Pulag because the cold climate favors the production of potatoes, carrots and cabbages. The same phenomenal fate that befell Mount Data National Park from 1960 to 1990 is happening to Mount Pulag, he warned.

Mount Data National Park used to be a 5,512 mossy forest. However, the mossy forest is now a mere 89 hectares, the rest are vegetable gardens. Mossy forests with pine trees, giant ferns oak trees, petroleum trees and other species exactly as those in Mount Pulag, have all been destroyed.

Even fauna like Philippine deer, cloud rat, civet cat and wild pigs used to abound in Mount Data National Park. Now, they are none left, he said. The same is happening to Mount Pulag, he disclosed.

A source within the regional office of DENR said there are persons with great influence who are behind the destruction of the forest. A few are local government officials of the municipality of Kabayan where Mount Pulag is located, others are lawyers and even one or two DENR staff themselves.

PINE TREE, in response to the plea of Albas and her park rangers, has launched a public information and education campaign to save Mount Pulag. It is using the social network Facebook to condemn the rape of the land through its group called A TRREE A DAY which has some 1,500 members in 37 countries.

It has called for legal assistance from Tanggol Kalikasana and the Legal Rights and Resources Center and will be convening a public legal forum to dramatize the plight of Mount Pulag and gain public support for the government to do its best at the soonest before things turn worse to worst.

It has made known to DENR Secretary Ramon Paje Jr. the state of Pulag as well as the death threats being received by the undermanned national park workers.

VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

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How can philosophy make you happy?

How best to live your life, or relieve suffering of the mind, is a recurring theme in the works of many of the great philosophers, including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Kierkegaard and Mill.

Have you ever wondered how best to live your life and how to find true happiness? You may not yet have found the answer. But why try to re-invent the wheel? Some philosophers over the last two and a half thousand years have applied a great deal of careful and systematic thinking to understanding how best to live your life.

Philosophy can help you understand how best to live your life, and how others live theirs.

Philosophy is defined by some as 'love of wisdom'. It uses reason and argument to gain knowledge of the world we live in. Knowledge can be acquired in many ways, including through education. As Aristotle said, "Education is the best provision for the journey to old age." As we use doctors to solve physical problems, we should use philosophers when our soul is unwell.Ref

"Just as medicine confers no benefit if it does not drive away physical illness, so philosophy is useless if it does not drive away the suffering of the mind."Ref

The latter part of Socrates' life was taken up up by him trying to impart his ethical views into the lives of the citizens of Athens. Plato described how he analysed the different elements of the human mind and concluded that its well-being, full development and happiness are achieved by behaving ethically.

Kirkegaard considered how it was possible to live an ethical life, but concluded that the solely ethical life was a non-starter. There is more to life than just ethical behavior; but equally, life without an ethical dimension is also a non-starter. Kirkegaard considered that life must also consist of an aesthetic (hedonistic?) element, and ultimately a religious element too.

Plato himself reached a similar conclusion. Although rather puritan in his approach to the aesthetic side of human behavior, he believed that life should be lived ethically; and he also believed in the existance of god.

Epicurus was said to have lived a promiscuous or hedonistic lifestyle to the full, before realizing the error of his ways. In fact, he lent his name to the 'epicurian' lifestyle. However, he eventually realised that it was not possible to achieve enduring happiness without living a virtuous, ethical lifestyle.

On the other hand, there were some philosophers who, despite having brilliant intellects, found happiness an anathema. Schopenhauer, Heidegger, Nietzsche and Machiavelli all wrote little about the achievement of happiness; but maybe it was because each had their own good reasons. Schopenhauer was perhaps the greatest pessimist in the history of philosophy; Heidegger lived in Germany during the Nazi era, and he even embraced Nazism at the outset; Nietzsche was plagued by illness until he died insane, and Machiavelli seemed to believe that ethical behavior didn't bring much benefit.

Machiavelli believed more in unscrupulous ruthless cunning than honesty and integrity. However, his interests were in the world of political leadership, and he argued that excessively merciful leadership would do more harm to a community through disorder than cruel leadership that maintains order through fear. He may well have been right in the world he lived in, but it is still possible to be a leader with strength, fortitude and the ability to act quickly and decisively, and at the same time behave ethically. Take Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela for example.

The great philosophers guide us towards not only answering the question of how to live a morally and ethically good life, but also a great deal more in understanding the nature of reality, and other issues necessary to understand the world in which we live.

The view of Socrates was that the goal of philosophy is to seek truth and to live justly. Some 2500 years later, contemporary philosopher, O'Hear, states concisely the only way real enduring happiness can be achieved.

"There cannot be true self-esteem without self-worth, and self-worth has to be earned. Nor is there real happiness outside of a life well lived, of which happiness is the by-product."Ref

Boosts to your self-esteem achieved by self-aggrandisement, the denigration of others, shopping or drugs are only transient. Trying to insulate yourself from lifes' challenges through filling your time with distractions such as junk television programmes or drinking alcohol to excess will only serve to lower your self-esteem further over time. This behavior, using 'quick fixes' to boost your ego, is described by Kierkegaard as aesthetic.

In contrast, being honest with yourself and others, facing up to the challenges of life, both physical and emotional, and overcoming them, builds character, self-belief, self-esteem and self-worth; with which comes the much sought after by-product of happiness. This behavior is described by Kierkegaard as ethical. And an ethical person is still capable of aesthetic enjoyment.

'I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.'




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How is happiness achieved?

Those who are not happy may believe that those who are happy are lucky. There may be some truth in it. You can't choose your parents, and it is usually your parents through their genes and the environment they (or your carers) provide for you that determine how you develop. But if you are not happy, perhaps through anxiety and/or depression, there is much you can do to change things.

But there are no short cuts to achieving happiness. The quick fixes, shopping, alcohol, drugs and so on, only give temporary respite before another quick fix is required. This aesthetic behavior works, but only papers over the cracks. A longer term solution is required to prevent the problems re-surfacing.

Happiness is probably no more than loving who you are, what you have and what you do.Ref

It's widely recognized that you need to love yourself before you can love others. Love brings happiness, but is a two way relationship when people are involved. It is often said that Narcissists' love themselves, but if they do, it's a pathological love that manifests itself through behavior that is habitual, maladaptive, and compulsive. They only love themselves.

Philosophy is from the greek philosophia, meaning love of wisdom; and wisdom is 'happiness without illusion or lies'. So can philosophy make us happy? Epicurus, another Greek philosopher, believed that,

"Philosophy is an activity, which, through discourse and reasoning, procures for us a happy life."Ref

The answer to the question 'can philosophy make us happy?' is, therefore, a qualified yes. The qualification is that philosophy per se can't make us happy. But through discourse and reasoning we can gain wisdom, think better, and by thinking better we can live better.

To gain wisdom we need to get rid of any illusion or lies. Some people, narcissists for example, lie and distort the truth to create a false image of themselves and others, an illusion. Being honest with yourself, not using denial and distortion of facts as a defence against feeling bad about yourself, is difficult but worthwhile in the quest for happiness.

Why are narcissists important in a discussion about achieving happiness in ones life? It is because their behavior can seriously diminish the happiness of those around them. They continuously create stressful situations for themselves and others, which, over time will create anxiety and depression - for others, not necessarily for themselves.

Narcissists think of themselves as being at the center of the universe; everyone must recognize this fact and behave accordingly. It is probably because when they were young they were spoiled, and expect this pattern to continue. Only spoilt children develop the concept that they can demand. Narcissists are people with underlying low self-esteem. They control others� views of them for defensive purposes, constantly engineering boosts to their self-esteem. They used to be called 'meglamaniacs'; the reason being that they can never settle; their constant feelings of paranoia and envy spur them on to continually engineer the boosts to their self-esteem they need to keep them from feeling pain and anxiety, and keep the feelings of low self-worth and low self-esteem at bay.

The Narcissists' success depends on receiving support from a support network, usually either the family members or colleagues at work, and they are ruthless when it comes to obtaining resources, that includes emotional, physical and material resources. Narcissists need people around them to supply these resources, including the emotional resource. To achieve this, they maintain a balance between over controlling and under controlling their prey. This is where the highs and lows of a relationship with a narcissist come in. And this is also where your anxiety and/or depression may come from. To be happy you need to be in control; but you never are if you are feeding the emotional needs of a narcissist.

Ultimately, narcissists may become anxious and/or depressed themselves, particularly if they lose their support network. A life of lies, distortion, denial, paranoia and envy will take its toll.

But if you are the victim of a narcissist you may not be entirely innocent yourself. To become a victim there needs to be an element of narcissistic behavior on your part at the beginning of your relationship when the narcissist reflects you back to yourself; this is why he appears so charming. He allows you to love your own reflection. Some examples of the ego massaging that the narcissist indulges in are, "you look great in that"; "is there anything you're not good at"; "you are perfect" and so on. He says all the things that you wanted your parents to say to you when you were young. In this way he endears himself to you, and you will never want to believe the truth, that he is actually indifferent towards you. But the truth is that he only pretends to admire you so that you will admire him in return.

Dr Alan Rappoport uses the term 'co-narcissist' to describe people who "work hard to please others, defer to other抯 opinions, worry about how others think and feel about them, are often depressed or anxious, find it hard to know their own views and experience, and take the blame for interpersonal problems. They fear being considered selfish if they act assertively." They are like this because of their attempts to get along with their narcissistic parents during childhood. Co-narcissist (or co-dependents) have been primed by their parent(s) to become a narcissist's prey. And as Dr Alan Rappoport states, a high proportion of psychotherapy patients are co-narcissistic, suffering from anxiety and/or depression.

The co-narcissist is the mirror image of the narcissist. In a relationship between two co-narcissists, one will adopt the narcissist's dominant position. The co-narcissist has been brought up to believe that in any interpersonal interaction, one person is narcissistic and the other co-narcissistic. So one co-narcissist adopts the role of the narcissist whilst the other continues as a co-narcissist, taking the blame for interpersonal problems.

Unfortunately for the narcissists' victims, and the co-narcissist who adopts the role of the narcissist, eventually they realize that their lives are either being controlled or are out of control. They don't have healthy means of self-expression. A pre-requisite to happiness is being in control, or at least the perception of being in control, without which anxiety and/or depression results.

The need to be honest with yourself is paramount. Denial, failure to acknowledge what is going on, is the first obstacle that must be overcome. However, this becomes almost impossible for a co-narcissist who continues to interact with his or her narcissist. The co-narcissist unconsciously assumes that everyone else is narcissistic, so finds it almost impossible to develop a relationship in which neither individual dominates. But this is what is required; a relationship in which neither person has a need to dominate the other, and each can appreciate what the other has to offer.

It may be difficult for a co-narcissist to enter into such a relationship without creating tension through reacting to, or provoking their partner. For example, if the partner doesn't adopt a dominant role (narcissist) in the relationship, the co-narcissist may feel the need to adopt the role. It may be necessary for the co-narcissist to consult a therapist/counsellor.

By getting rid of the narcissist, the co-narcissist can then work hard at understanding how non-narcissistic relationships work, and by adopting a moral and ethical view of life, it will be possible to remove the feelings of anxiety and depression and lay the foundations for happiness.


ISO NGATA........

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