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Over 60 years ago, it was projected that Agus River can provide electric power enough to satisfy the needs of Mindanao. That was in 1950 during the term of President Elpidio Quirino when construction of Agus 6 was done.

It was not yet imagined then that Mindanao will industrialize and power demand would rise. And at that time the Lake Lanao Watershed was full of virgin rain forests as massive logging had not begun. The slopes above Marantao, Tugaya, Bacolod Kalawi and the other towns on the western shores were not yet denuded. No logging had touched Piagapo, Madalum and the other highlands.

The hills above Bubong, Mulondo, Maging, Lumba Bayabao and Masiu all the way up to the mountains above Butig were still covered by green forests.

The tributaries were not yet used for irrigation of the rice fields on the plains east of the lake. All the water poured into the lake – none was absorbed by the farms.

Today, the conditions have changed. The rains that used to fall almost every afternoon even in the summer months are gone. The lake is drying slowly. The disappearance of the forests has changed the climate around the lake.

The thinking that Agus River can provide electricity for the whole of Mindanao is proven to be wrong. Diesel and Coal-fired Power Plants have to be built and more are being built today.

It is probably a matter of proprietary pride for the Maranao to revive the grandeur that was the rich rain forests in the Lake Lanao Watershed. The power potential of the lake that has been greatly diminished by the denudation of the surrounding slopes can be restored.

This is not impossible. The government is providing millions annually for reforestation. All it takes is for everyone to cooperate and make the funds achieve the purpose for which these were appropriated.

The American experience can be replicated. According to a Reader’s Digest Article published sometime in 1969 or thereabouts, in the year 1900 almost one-half of the American forests were gone. Through a real and meaningful reforestation program, in 1950 all those forests were restored.

The Maranao is a great people. It can make things happen better than some other tribes in the country. It is time to move.


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