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Galatis, Working Together Towards Sustainable Natural Resource Management

An entry for the DENR Essay Writing Contest

When will the world end? It is a question that everybody knows will happen, but no one knows when.

Obviously, the unending wants of the people is one of the biggest contributors as to why the world is seemingly reaching its limit. From the excavation of mountains to supply the needed materials for science, the continuous pollution of bodies of water and destruction of forests for the so-called modern development, the depletion of natural resources are only some of the threats that poses huge risks to the environment.

With these laid dangers to earth, each of us should be a steward for the protection of the natural resources which goes with the second question, how?

The Philippines has laws, programs and projects for the rehabilitation and safeguarding of the milieu. One of such is the National Greening Program being implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The said program is of big help as it has the objectives of providing opportunities for communities to develop social enterprises to produce sustainable livelihood and optimize benefits and encourage local government units, organized upland communities in the development of forest plantations including forest parks.

In the Cordilleras, particularly in Mountain Province, the people are practicing an environmental friendly action, and indigenous knowledge called “galatis”. “Galatis” which came from the latin word “gratis”, probably started during the time of the Spanish colonization where the people before have to do labors without any monetary payment. The intangible practice however evolved after, into a more positive thoroughfare as it is being used nowadays as a community development platform.

In the said intangible heritage, a “tambol” (drum like instrument), made from a “lalat di baka” (cow skin) is sounded off to signal that a certain activity, the “galatis” is to be done. In some areas, a community crier goes around to announce that a “galatis” is to be implemented. Every household would have to send a family representative to participate voluntarily in the said activity.

The “galatis” is usually being done in various environmental related movements. One of such is the “legleg di danum”, a ritual for water abundancy. In the said ceremony, the people are gathered in water sources, butcher a chicken and send prayers. After thus, the people move to clean the water sources, by means of taking out garbages, making signages to avoid water contamination of the water supplies. In this way, the water is not only being protected but also becomes sustainable for the whole community.

Another contributory factor which helps with the preservation of the forest lands through the “galatis” is the tree planting activity. This is also in lined with the National Greening Program and through the Batangan system. With that being said, the floras and the forest as a whole are being continuously protected and revitalized as the “galatis” happens more than thrice a year, and could even go once a month.

Relative to nature preservation, through “galatis” is the fire lining activity which helps in the prevention and mitigation of massive forest fires. It is being done as much as it needed to be especially during dry seasons where fire usually occurs. “Galatis” was also regarded as one of the best practices in Tadian, a municipality of Mountain Province where because of it, they were funded various projects and programs through the Kapit- Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan- Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI- CIDSS). One example is the rehabilitation of water reservoirs in some of the barangays in Tadian.

It is evident then that “galatis”, with the participation of the community members, brings a lot of sustainable environment management. Through it, the continuous protection of the natural resources is being highly maintained.

The seasons may change along with the generation but “galatis”, an indigenous social practice conveys hope to bringing people closer together in protecting the environment and providing measures in sustaining life on earth. This being said, all of us, regardless of age, race or ethnicity, religion and gender should work together in giving a better life for the future generations as one of the seven environmental principles say, “Nature is beautiful and we are stewards of God’s creation”.

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Igorot Cordillera Culture

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