Saturday, May 3, 2014

Time is Another River: Manupali River

Yesterday, I tried to write a counter-argument on this article called "Why it makes sense to ride without a helmet." But I could not get on with it. I think I ran out of things to say. Even senseless things, I can't write about them anymore. I think I must be metaphorically braindead. So braindead I am watching Snakes on a Plane. I need to watch something that does not require any brain activity.

Today, I just wanna roll over and play dead. That is an activity admired in dogs, but not in humans. Ah! This world is full of double standards. I have been in Bukidnon for the past two weeks. I don't miss Cebu, but I miss the people I go out with. There aren't many cyclists on my side of town, no indoor climbing gym, and definitely no sea to dive in. Bukidnon is land-locked.

But despite being far from the sea, this place is abundant in water. I am not far from one of the more known rivers here--the Manupali River. It winds through huge river-bed rocks in the Municipalities of Lantapan and Valencia, before it throbs quietly into the wide and unpredictable Pulangi River. Pulangi River, in turn, terminates into the Rio Grande de Mindanao, the second larget river system in the Philippines with a length of 373 km and a basin of 23,169 km2 (thank you wikipedia for making me sound smart).

I didn't really do any huge exploration in Manupali River, mainly because it's a lazy Saturday afternoon and I wasn't in the mood for seeing armed guys. The last time I was here in Bukidnon, I met a bunch of guys carrying semi-automatic rifles. They were military men. I don't mind coming across communist rebels, because they are rebels with a cause, not like the "bandits" of southern Mindanao.

It's just that I am not ready to answer questions about what I was doing about in remote places and if I had anything going on. Military people, on the other hand, are well-aware of cyclists and trail seekers. They just let you pass, no questions asked. Besides, Manupali River can all of a sudden rage with flood without notice. It could rain from the high lands but still be very dry in the low land (where the river bed is).

The next thing you'll know, hundreds of cubic liters of water is rushing your way and the river is swollen with furious water. Check out one of the photos in this entry. You will see how often the river rises and falls with the changing volume of rainfall. Those gradient of lines tell the story of a bipolar river.

If you want to know more about the Manupali River, there is an in-depth publication by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies called "Winning the Water Warwatersheds, water policies and water institutions." It is edited by Rola, Francisco, and Liguton. I want to cite a few essential facts about the Manupali River from the publication. Manupali is essential not only to mindless people like me who enjoy bathing in its cold waters. It also serves as the source of the Manupali River Irrigation System, it's a bunch of "canals" that supplies water to many farming grounds in Central Mindanao.

The whole system covers 4,000 hectares and was constructed by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in 1987. My father worked briefly for NIA, I don't know what he did there. There is also a hydroelectric station in the upper stream of Manupali River, just a few kilometers from where my family lives.

It's where most people in our barangay bath and it's more popularly known as "Hydro." Sadly, Manupali is not as mighty as it once was. There is an increasing demand for its waters as more households and agricultural land compete for its limited supplies (the river may be mighty, but it's not infinite). Second, more agricultural lands are being cultivated on the higher lands that surround Manupali.

There are no proper soil conservation efforts done by these people, so soil erosion contributes to the dwindling of Manupali River. In rather exclamated ways, the raging waters of Manupali have claimed a few lives in the past. But what people are little aware of is the life the it sustains throughout Central Mindanao, and by the flap of a butterfly's wings, throughout the entire Mindanao.

On a completely irrelevant note, I am reminded of Jorge Luis Borges' poem, "The Art of Poetry":

To gaze at a river made of time and water
and remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water.

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