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Special Feature: Save Me a River

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Many ancient civilizations thrived in abundance beside rivers. The fertile fields of the Nile River formed the civilization that paved the way to Egypt and its neighboring colonies. The Yellow River or Huang He in China united tribes that were heavily engaged in agriculture. Settlements sprouted along the Indus River in Pakistan. Mesopotamia, the land between two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, was also home to flourishing cultures in ancient Iraq. These civilizations shared common denominators. The river to them is a source of food, the spring for their agriculture, their filter that refreshes their land, and their channel for trade, cultural exchange, and communication. The rivers essentially cultivated their growth from separate clans into large powerful domains. This is how rivers are. They carry an essential role in the continuous development and progress of civilizations and naturally integrate themselves into daily human activities. Botan In Cebu, one of its many precious ri…

Special Report: Communicating Water

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(This blog post won first place in the 2018 Mega Cebu Investigative Report Competition for Blog Category.)
CEBU, Philippines - A family of five living on a highland in Lahug, Cebu City in Cebu, Philippines waits for the late evening to come to store water. They understand that because of the elevated land, water flow is challenging and water only arrives when neighboring businesses (a laundry shop, a water refilling station, a fast food restaurant, and several eateries) below, by the busy main road, close after dinnertime. This family store water in three barrels, which could last them two days of drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing the dishes. The difficulty happens when there is no water available at all. In the past week, there was nothing to store for three nights in a row. At the time, in the absence of notice of water interruptions from public utility firmMetropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), the mother, Nene, had decided to wait. If, on the fourth night, there would still …

Essay #7: The Extraordinary Tales of Some Trees

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Aren’t you afraid of trees? Especially tall, dark ones? The trees that are older than our grandfathers? The ones that survived the war, saw how you were born and is watching you grow up? The trees that still stand steadfast and quiet where they are before man encroached on their territory and built swimming pools around them? The trees that are not just home to bugs, ants and dog’s urine but also to extraordinary creatures?
Some people say the trees in cities are dead, or devoid of any spirit or purpose. But there is one tree in a large barangay in Cebu City that had cursed a family in the 1970s. As the story goes, the head of that family was a successful businessman. He may have been talented at what he did but tact was what he terribly lacked. This dearth in courteousness was what allegedly put his family at risk with spirits. His family was well-to-do, still is, a comfortable member of the working class. Their house in itself is a reflection of their rising status. It is not a mansi…