Normally I wouldn’t mind not having a network signal in a remote area; this was not one of those moments. First, I wanted to consult a lawyer or someone from my contacts at the PSG. Second, I wanted to consult Google because I wanna know if DENR has the right to do what they did last weekend. You see, the road leading up to Bangkong Kahoy Valley was blocked off by some people from DENR, barring campers and Banahaw Tugtugan performers from getting in. The people who are on foot have no trouble getting in, but those who came with vehicles, like my friends and I were virtually disallowed to pass through. We watched the commotion, we came there for the 5th Banahaw Tugtugan, the music festival that almost didn’t happen because of this unnecessary dispute.
I don’t know how it all started. But from what we heard the DENR people were trying to block it off because according to them, the organizers didn’t file for clearance to hold the music festival. Apparently, they are trying to protect the environment by preventing people from going there. I wasn’t able to hear everything but I heard that they want to prevent people from cutting trees. I’m like, cutting trees?
I have several problems with this argument, let me enumerate:
- Bangkong Kahoy Valley is a nature retreat and field study center. It’s a private property; if the owner wants to accept guests or not, it’s his prerogative.
- The road that they barricaded is open to public. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not completely knowledgeable about the DENR’s jurisdiction, but I figured if there is any government entity who can block off a road that’s the DPWH, or maybe the military and the police force, not DENR. I may be wrong, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why DENR would put a roadblock on a road to stop a musical event.
- Let’s say that the DENR has the right to block off people but on what grounds? Let’s use the cutting of trees card, how in the hell did they come up with this? Have they seen the guests? They are mostly young people from universities and musical performers. They neither have the means nor the reason to cut trees for the love of god! We all went there to listen to some good music, why the fudge would we cut trees?
- This is the 5th Banahaw Tugtugan, if they are so concerned about providing clearance then why only now when the event is already on its 5th year? It’s not like they weren’t aware of this festival in the last 4 years.
- If they have a problem with the organizers then why take out it to the guests? Some campers have left out of frustration even when they’ve already paid the ticket.
- And yeah about the ticket, are they even aware that Banahaw Tugtugan is in fact a fundraising event? And who are the beneficiaries? No less than the youth of Bangkong Kahoy Valley. The proceeds will be used to support their education. The owner doesn’t pocket the funds and the performers are not even paid to do this. They go there to share their gift of music and to support the fundraising effort of the organizers. I don’t see any reason why they should hinder such a noble endeavor. Who would benefit from creating this unnecessary dispute really? Here’s an answer: NO ONE!
And I say unnecessary because that’s what it really is. It achieved nothing but waste everybody’s time because in the end, they weren’t able to stop the event anyway. If they truly believed that they are right, then they should have stuck with their decision whatever happens. But nope. In the end, they weren’t able to go against the owner of Bangkong Kahoy when he came along to settle the matter.
Finally, we were allowed entry and picked a spot to pitch our tents. I shared my tent with 2 others. By the time we got there I was already sleepy as f*ck that everything seems to be on slow motion. I tried to catch some zzs in the car on our way but it wasn’t enough.
Bangkong Kahoy is still as lovely as I remembered it but the weather wasn’t as freezing as the year before. The crowd is noticeably smaller too, the aftermath of the day’s squabble.
Come night time, my friend Lara cooked a Thai dish, Khao Soi. I heard my friends getting excited to try the food, but I was too sleepy to leave my tent to join in the fun. Last year I was also the first one to retire in the tent, so I guess nothing’s really changed. Between fun and sleep, I will always choose the latter. [Read: Banahaw Tugtugan at Bangkong Kahoy Valley]
I woke up to the sound of rain beating on my tent. It was pretty hard and lasted for a few hours. As they say, when it rains it pours (literally and figuratively). I felt sorry for the organizers and the musical performers for what they had to go through. First, was the afternoon’s dispute, now the rain. It has become a series of unfortunate events.
At around 10 in the evening, I woke up to the rhythmic pattering of water on the tent. The rain has stopped and the sound, I realized came from rainwater dripping from trees. I left the tent and walked on the muddy ground in the darkness to see my friends. I found them sitting under the huge umbrella-shaped tarp, thanks to Cathy’s loud chattering.
The concert had to stop due to the heavy rain. They did manage to move the performance in the restaurant but the space is so small, I couldn’t find a good spot to watch everything. I felt sorry that for 2 years in a row, I wasn’t able to enjoy the gig.
We woke up to the sounds of the birds’ chirping. The rain is gone, leaving the earth cool and damp. We dismantled our tents and laid them over the grass to let them dry under the sun. After we’ve packed our things, we went exploring to indulge in the beauty of nature.
Originally, over 20 people signified intent to go on this trip; only 6 of us are able to make it. On our way, we talked about the fact that some of our friends are unreliable, in a sense that they would always back out on our trip at the last minute. I have wasted so many years of my life feeling angry over those kinds of people. Today, I just don’t give a f*ck. I’m not going to die if they don’t come along and I’m not gonna earn money if I waste my energy feeling frustrated for their flakiness. So I just don’t care. I’ve already proven that I can go anywhere even if I’m alone.
On whether I will go back next year for the 6th Banahaw Tugtugan is yet to be seen. I fervently hope though that the ugly incident won’t make a repeat.
By the way, no trees were cut during the event. I swear.