PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN FUND
Monday, December 18, 2017
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    • PROTECTING THE AMBURAYAN RIVER: Sharing Stories, Sharing Dreams

      By PHIL-AM FUND ADMIN |

      Symposium participants, composed of representatives from Region 1 and the Cordillera Administrative Region, draw their dream for the Amburayan River 

       

      Legend tells the tale of a local folk hero named Lam-ang, a man born with extraordinary strength and ability, who once bathed in the waters of the Amburayan River after an epic battle. The story of Lam-ang has been passed on from generation to generation, and was retold in front of a group of local government officials, agencies and other stakeholders committed to saving the Amburayan River and sustainably managing its resources. Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator for Ilocos Sur Dr. Enrie Mendoza shared Lam-ang’s story to highlight the significance of the river, which spans an area of almost 130,000 hectares. He added that not only is it a vital source of water for irrigation and livelihood, but is also a reminder of local culture and identity. The story of Lam-ang may be fictional, but the epic river mentioned in the tale and its current issues are all too real.

      The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the Philippine-American Fund, supports the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation Inc.(JVOFI) in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples and other stakeholders who are at the forefront of defending the Amburayan River.

      On Oct. 8, 2014, JVOFI organized a symposium among stakeholders to discuss how best to protect the river and its neighboring watersheds. Local government officials from three project sites namely Benguet, Ilocos Sur and La Union gathered to discuss strategies and collaborative mechanisms to sustain support in protecting the Amburayan River. “If you sell the forests, it is akin to depriving your children and grandchildren of water,” Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan said in his opening address during the said event.

      The symposium paved the way for collaborative partnerships, instead of boundary disputes, to be formed. One strategy identified during the event was to enroll the Amburayan River as a Water Quality Management Area (WQMA), which required strong stakeholder cooperation. This has encouraged the participants representing the three provinces to pledge their support in protecting the Amburayan River. This commitment was formalized through a project partnership agreement signing which happened a month after the symposium. 

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