Greenpeace Southeast Asia


Water Watch: Day 4 by Chuck Baclagon

The water level in Angat Dam breached the 180 meter above sea level (masl) critical point at around 3pm on April 13, and we got word that it finally made the news headlines this morning.

A news crew from the GMA network, led by reporter Cesar Apolinario, visited the camp to do interviews and take some shots of the things that were going on in the watershed.  They arrived in the afternoon and had to rush to make the deadline for the evening news.

We weren’t able to go on the expedition through forests in the Kamanoyo mountains because we needed more time, since only the indigenous Dumagats are familiar with the area and we might not be able to make it back with enough daylight. We’ll be doing the trek tomorrow and Cesar Apolinario’s crew will be back to cover the trek to the other side, facing Anoling, which is across the Matulid River. We hope to see the state of this major tributary from there.  We’ll also be taking the GMA crew to see the mouths of smaller tributaries that we’ve visited and failed to cross the previous days.  Hopefully, this time the “sounds from the forests” would not remain unheard.

We had several mishaps today.  One of the Water Patrol boats, first thing in the morning when it was going out to ferry teams who will be checking readings from instruments set up in other parts of the reservoir, immediately came back since it had sprung a leak.  The boat team had to make some quick fixes, but the patch needs 24 hours to set, so it was pretty much out of commission the whole day.  The AWAT outrigger was also being fixed today.  We were left with just one inflatable for the day’s chores, so camp manager Roda had to rent a Dumagat outrigger for the day.

Speaking of Roda, both of us had the privilege of being stung by a bee on the hand.  I was stung in the morning and got worried since I was part of a mountaineering expedition in the Leyte Mountain Ranges that got attacked by a large colony of bees several years ago, had more than 30 stings on me, and was told by doctors then to be careful of being stung again and having subsequent allergic reactions that may prove fatal.  Roda quickly gave me an antihistamine tablet, while a home remedy made of vinegar was whipped out by Totoy for me to marinate…err…soak my stung right palm in.

My hand had swollen and became numb in a matter of minutes, but the vinegar quickly helped ease both the swelling and numbness. After about 20-30 minutes of soaking, Totoy pulled out the stinger with a pair of tweezers.  After that, my hand was back to normal.

Roda got stung on her left thumb after lunch. I’m not sure if it’s the same bee or if the bees here have a thing for hands. Both us weren’t really holding on to anything when we got stung. In fact, my hand was in the air, midway from scratching my leg (which was so itchy from a form of poison ivy I had gotten at the start of camp) to reaching for a bag beside me, when I felt the quick, sudden sting. Roda was similarly between movements when she got stung.

We also found out today that the funnel of the rain gauge that was set up nearest the port where we take off had been stolen. Ironically, it was the one that we had meticulously taped to the water receptacle.  But I guess it was still the most vulnerable gauge since it was the only one that didn’t have a nearby Dumagat family that we could ask to check from time to time.

Phone signals are intermittent here in the camp, but we got word that Cesar’s interview with Beau at the camp was shown in the early evening news. Although we’ve been getting some media pick-ups even a couple of days after the Monday press conference, this was our first on-cam TV interview again after the ones from the launch, which already feels like it happened eons ago.

Hopefully the “sounds from the forest” will soon reverberate…

JP Agcaoli
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