Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Island Rape

I haven't been off the island for months, because the boat service has been so dire. But I went to Surigao City last Friday. It was a hell of a trip, on the Britphil (the name gives me some pride, but not much) a lancha - that's a big outrigger. The boat was over-filled, and it was raining heavily when I boarded, so I had to squat under a leaking tarpaulin on whatever that decking built out from the boat's hull is called. That was not much fun.

On the way, we passed south of the first small island (Talavera) of the minor archipelago that precedes Surigao City. Sensible boat captains follow this route, rather then the obvious one a bit further north, to avoid the strong tidal whirlpools, etc.

So I saw this, on Talavera, as we passed:

The big orange cloud is dust being kicked up by massive Chinese earthmovers (unlicensed copies of Caterpillars).

A Chinese company has taken up the nickel-mining concessions around Surigao City.
They are taking away the islands, literally, and dumping the ore into freighters that take it to China for processing. You can see one of the freighters to the right in the photo.
The Philippines gets absolutely nothing, except a bung to some politician.

The fishermen and coconut growers who live on the islands get even less. Their peaceful, but very poor, life is disrupted. The fishing is fucked up by mining residue, full of awful elemental poisons, and their coconut trees are destroyed by induced landslides.

So, tough on them. Maybe they can give up their ancient and peaceful lifestyle, and move to Surigao (or some other) City, and be beggars or mendicants of some sort.

All so the Chinese can emulate Americans, with chrome-plated stuff, and nickel-content stainless steel.

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