Devastated by a typhoon, community foresters in the Philippines find little support

  • The Macatumbalen Community-Based Forest and Coastal Management Association, based in the Philippine province of Palawan, has replanted and managed 1,850 hectares of local forests since 2002.
  • When Typhoon Rai struck Palawan in December 2021, the community’s forest was devastated, harming not just the ecosystem but also the livelihood of local people, who depend on agroforestry and harvesting of forest products like honey and rattan.
  • Four months after the typhoon struck, the community organization has been left largely on its own as it attempts to resume restoration and replanting.


Ousted anti-mining mayor heads back to Philippine city hall after landslide win

  • In July 2021, Mary Jean Feliciano, mayor of Brooke’s Point in the Philippine province of Palawan, was suspended from her post without pay after the country’s Ombudsman’s office ruled she had overstepped her authority in her actions against a nickel mining firm operating in the municipality.
  • While still under suspension as mayor, Feliciano launched a successful vice-mayoral campaign, winning a landslide victory in the May 9 elections.
  • Feliciano’s running mate also won over the pro-mining interim mayor.
  • Feliciano says the vice-mayoral post will allow her to resume her fight against attempts to change local land use policies, which currently have not zoned any of the municipality to allow for mining.


PH bets on fisherfolk, but halts policy protecting town waters from big fishers

PALAWAN, Philippines – As the northeast monsoon wind blew one morning in March, Jojo Quirino and two other fishermen bravely paddled a small outrigger boat tossed by waves off the coast of Manamoc, a remote island barangay of Cuyo town in the northeastern part of Palawan.

Once they reached a fishing ground 30 minutes away from the coast, the three started pulling in the net they cast the night before. They continued the backbreaking work until the net was finally hauled back to their boat, but upon checking it, the 39-year-old Quirino sighed in dismay.

“It’s really saddening because we left it here the whole night, but it only caught three kilos of danggit (rabbitfish),” he said, his shoulders slumped as they split the catch among themselves. Each of them gets just enough to feed their families for a day.

During the amihan period, the sea is rough, and so is life for Manamoc fisherfolk like Quirino, a father of five.

“If you have children who depend on you, catch as small as this is not enough because it can’t cover your other daily needs,” he told Rappler.

The fishermen have been looking forward to better sailing conditions in April so they can earn well, but that also means competing for good catch with commercial fishing vessels (CFVs) that illegally encroach on Cuyo’s municipal waters, known for economically important migratory and reef fish species.

This pervasive problem in the Philippines’ municipal waters has been exacerbated by the national government’s weak and slow implementation of the vessel monitoring system (VMS). Environmental groups believe this could have addressed the issue that disproportionately impacts artisanal fishers and, ultimately, imperils the country’s food security.


An Indigenous basket-weaving tradition keeps a Philippine forest alive

  • Traditional handicrafts like the Pala’wan Indigenous people’s tingkep woven baskets are deeply tied to local ecosystems; experts increasingly understand that supporting traditional practices can aid conservation by creating incentives for keeping forests intact.
  • Efforts to support tingkep weavers have been undercut by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dried up tourism in Palawan as well as reduced disposable income for many potential buyers, dramatically slashing the demand for the handicrafts.
  • At the same time, climate change is already affecting the forests from which tingkep weavers gather materials.

READ FULL STORY: An Indigenous basket-weaving tradition keeps a Philippine forest alive (

A mayor in the Philippines took on a mine, and lost her job over it

  • When nickel mining firm Ipilan Nickel Corporation began felling trees in a protected forest in its concession area in Brooke’s Point, Palawan, Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano moved aggressively to stop them.
  • After sending cease-and-desist orders and failing ultimately to prevent the felling of 7,000 trees, she used her authority to shut down the company’s operations and demolish onsite facilities.
  • The company fought back, claiming it had the legal right to cut trees on the concession, and that Feliciano’s actions amounted to an abuse of authority.
  • The Philippine Ombudsman sided with the company, ruling in July 2021 that Feliciano be suspended without pay for a year.

READ FULL STORY: A mayor in the Philippines took on a mine, and lost her job over it (

Philippine farmers fear crop, river contamination as mining moratorium is lifted

Farmer Melchor Ortiz waited for three months before harvesting 43 sacks of rice from his one-hectare patch of farmland in January. But the wrinkled lip of 63-year-old Ortiz was drooping slightly, his grey brows furrowed, as he stood in the vast rice field facing the mining-scarred mountain in the western Philippines province of Palawan.


Typhoon exposes biodiversity haven Palawan’s vulnerability — and resilience

PALAWAN, Philippines — When park ranger Allan Daganta travels to work from his home in a village just outside Palawan’s Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP), he’s usually welcomed by a cool forest breeze. That, he says, has changed since Dec. 17, 2021, when Super Typhoon Rai hit Palawan, turning the park’s once thriving forest from green to brown.

“Now, every time I drive to work I can feel the hot weather,” Daganta told Mongabay a month after the catastrophic storm, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Odette, struck the island. “I was born and raised here and in my 51 years of existence, it’s so far the strongest typhoon to ever ravage the park.”


BANNER IMAGE: The strongest storm to hit Philippines in 2021, Rai dismantled numerous park facilities and villagers’ homes, displacing more than 3,500 families, and destroyed 86 boats. Image courtesy of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP).

Women on storm-hit Philippine island lead Indigenous effort to restore mangroves

Almost eight years after Typhoon Haiyan barreled into Busuanga Island in the western Philippines, the lesson it left is still etched in the mind of village leader Annabel Dela Cruz. For her and other Indigenous women in the village of Quezon on Busuanga’s northern coast, keeping their mangrove forest intact is now seen as a matter of survival amid the climate crisis.

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BANNER IMAGE: The community also helped protect mangroves with the passage of an ordinance banning mangrove forest clearing, and the mobilization of Indigenous men and women as volunteer coastal guards who enforce the policy. Image courtesy of Community Centered Conservation (C3) Philippines.

New Philippine corpse flower is phallic-shaped, funky smelling — and nearly extinct

Forester Leonardo Udasco Jr. and his team were deep in the forests of the northern Philippines in 2019 when they first spotted a plant they’d never seen before: a small, phallic-shaped flower with a putrid odor of rotting flesh.

Fast-forward two years, and that plant they found while conducting a biodiversity assessment in Pantabangan-Carranglan Watershed Forest Reserve (PCWFR), in Nueva Ecija province, has now officially been described as a species new to science. With the help of botanists from the Philippine Taxonomic Initiative (PTI), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio and the University of Hamburg, this regal maroon plant was identified as a previously unknown member of the Amorphophallus genus, many of which are also known as “corpse flowers” because of the smell they emit.

READ MORE: New Philippine corpse flower is phallic-shaped, funky smelling — and nearly extinct (

Banner Image: Amorphophallus minimus in vegetative and flowering stage. Image courtesy of Leonardo C. Udasco, Jr/DENR.

Amid shrinking catch and endless territorial disputes, hope keeps fishers afloat in the West Philippine Sea

In 2008, when Larry Hugo first ventured into the cerulean seas around Pag-asa island — 932 km southwest of the Philippine capital of Manila and known internationally as Thitu — he was stunned. Only a few hundred meters away from the shore, he found his outrigger boat already brimming with a wide array of fish. It was a haul enough to feed his small island community for a day. He sold it for P80 (US$1.60) per kilogram, primarily to military personnel stationed on the island.

READ MORE: Fishers on the Frontlines (