by Mayang Andres K is for Kahoy

This article is available in Bisaya

The sound of chainsaw came to a halt when the two men approached Noy Teodoro and Oring where they were sawing logs.

Noy Teodoro realized it was their neighbors. Their militia. Almost two weeks had passed after Typhoon Pablo. They haven’t seen them until now.

“Good morning, brod!” Noy Teodoro greeted his neighbors.

“Good morning, Noy!” members of the militia replied.

“Was it just now that you’ve been around here?” said Oring, Noy Teodoro’s nephew.

“Thankfully you’re okay, brod.”

“Thank heavens, you’re all okay too. We all survived the storm! We’ve only been around these parts today. We followed where the sound of chainsaw was coming from,” said Benny, the commanding officer of the militia in the area. He was with the other militia, which was about platoon-sized in number.

“We’re surveying the areas damaged by the storm,” Benny added.

He looked at the logs Noy Teodoro and Oring were working on.

“Haven’t you attended the assembly in the barrio last week, brod?” asked Ingko, the political instructor of their militia.

“We were not able to attend, brod, because after the storm, my family and I went to our relatives in the other province. When we came back, we visited our little hut and the chainsaw we left there. Both were okay, so we looked around for fallen trees to sell. My nephew here knew a buyer interested in the logs.”

“That’s why you didn’t know what the assembly discussed about the fallen trees,” said Ingko.

“What did they agree on, brod? I was oblivious about it all because we went straight to our farm when we got back,” said Noy Teodoro. “We were sawing logs to sell so we can buy some rice and food to eat. The remaining wood will be used to repair our house. Surely it will be okay to sell wood for now with all the uprooted trees?”

“That was the big debate in the assembly, what to do with the uprooted trees,” said Benny.

“But it would go against the policy we all agreed on in the assembly last time. It’s been two years when the log ban was implemented. It’s been a long process. Even before the storm, we’ve been trying to smooth out problems on small-scale logging,” Ingko explained.

“Is that so? No wonder I couldn’t hear any other chainsaw except ours,” said Teodoro. “What did they all agreed on during the assembly?”

“All of the fallen trees will be used for the rehabilitation program to rebuild the school, the houses in the community, to build a clinic, a barangay hall, a chapel, and other facilities needed in the barrio and the community. We also agreed to rehabilitate our forests,” said Benny.

“The assembly has also agreed on a way to process the timber faster for the needs of the community. There will be a separate meeting on how to carry out this program on reforestation,” said Ka Ingko.

“Is that why Imok and Densyo were going from house to house? To gather everyone for a meeting?” wondered Noy Teodoro.

“There’s actually a meeting today since the school repairs are almost finished. Next in the agenda will be repairing the houses of the residents as well as discussions regarding the uprooted trees,” Benny replied.

“Alas! This is the trouble when we fail to attend our meetings. What I’m doing is against the agreement of the barrio. I should be arrested! What would my case be?” joked Noy Teodoro.

All of them laughed.

“It’s understandable, brod. You were away. You didn’t have ill-intentions. It’s a good thing we came after we heard the sound of the chainsaw,” Ingko clarified. Noy Teodoro lit his roll of tobacco.

“We’ll be in trouble if we lose all our forests. Look around us, with all the uprooted trees? The big loggers already cut most of the trees down before and Typhoon Pablo delivered the finishing blow. What will happen to our water sources now?” agreed Noy Teodoro.

“That’s true, brod. That’s why rainforestation will also be discussed in the meeting today,” said Benny.

“Rainforestation? What’s that?”

“A campaign to plant more trees to restore our rainforests. We already had this program before, but we need to reenforce it, especially now we’ve lost most of our forest cover,” said Ingko

“A good thing we could do, brod, is to build a nursery for our KRB, so that we have enough supply of seedlings for our program. We also need to assign people to take care of our nursery according to our program. People who will ensure that our trees are well taken care of. In our old program, we did not make a nursery and what our neighbors planted were mostly commercial trees. That’s why we need to be in one mind with those who used to plant trees for selling,” said Noy Teodoro.

“That’s right. That’s a good suggestion. Our priority are fruit trees as well as trees that can help restore our watersheds and sources of water,” Ingko said.

“And we need to review our standing policies, because it seems we have forgotten them already. Every tree that we cut down for the needs of the community must be replaced with 20 new ones. Also, it is still not allowed to cut trees 30 meters from the river,” Benny added. “Every grupo sa balangay [Solid mass organization chapters or HOMs are composed of several chapter groups or GB—Ed.] aims to replant 100 trees every month,” Ingko said.

“I agree, brod,” said Noy Teodoro. “But, brod, we urgently need food. How do we eat if we can’t sell the uprooted trees?”

“We’ve worked that out, brod. Everyone who joins the communal farm is prioritized to get a ration of food. There are schedules already so make sure to sign up as soon as possible,” replied Ingko.

“Thank you, brod! Once again, I apologize for all this,” gestured Noy Teodoro to the logs they were working on.

“We must all be reminded, brod. We already enforced a logban before the storm, and now it must all the more be reenforced. Let’s triple our efforts to plant trees in our watersheds. And we should be more vigilant of the lies of big foreign concessionares and the reactionary government about their large-scale mining programs and plantations,” said Ka Ingko.

“That’s right, brod. We should not be shortsighted in thinking of just the present. Now more than ever, we need to think of the future!” said Noy Teodoro.

“Well then, we shouldn’t tarry. We have an important meeting to attend. Something we shouldn’t miss!” said Oring, already gathering his things to go.

“What a bright future we’ll have!” quipped Noy Teodoro, brimming with enthusiasm.

All of them walked toward the assembly in the barrio.

First published on Pasa Bilis! March 2015 issue.
(Pasa Bilis! Special Issue, December 4, 2022)

K is for Kahoy