Cabaero: Bamboo vandalism

Nini Cabaero
·3 min read

WHY destroy a thing of beauty? This was asked by many after photos of vandalized bamboos in Medellin town in Cebu showed up on Facebook.

The photos showed carvings done on the bamboos in the town’s bamboo forest located next to a sugarcane plantation. Whether made by residents or tourists, the messages were of the “I wuz here!” type with names and professions of love carved into the bamboos.

Jack Ponpon’s posts on Facebook mostly feature the town’s picturesque landscape – the bamboo grove, sugarcane fields, rolling hills and long roads – and the nearby beach. But recently he posted photos of the painful sight of bamboos bearing scars or tattoos or whatever you want to call it after people carved their names and messages into them. Ponpon’s call was for tourists to be responsible and not destroy the beautiful bamboos.

Bamboo plants that are defaced will rot and will have to be cut down. Once cut, that’s it, because bamboo does not grow back up like most trees. That was what happened to the Arashiyama bamboo forest in Kyoto, Japan, wherein the vandalized bamboos were cut and the number of plants in the grove went down.

In Baguio City just a week ago, the Bamboo Ecopark was temporarily closed also because of the vandalism. The Philippine Bamboo Foundation Inc. ordered the closure after it received reports of visitors engraving their names on the bamboo and relieving themselves along the pathway. The bamboo plantation has been likened to the one in Kyoto with its tall bamboos and green expanse.

The Baguio ecopark is part of the plan to put up a one million-hectare bamboo plantation in line with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) program to reforest 20 million hectares by 2020 to improve the environment. Bamboos are known to eat or absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the air. The Department of Tourism warned tourists against harming the bamboos.

The Facebook post on defaced bamboos in Medellin got the attention of netizens who criticized those behind the vandalism, calling them irresponsible and ignorant. They suggested that authorities trace these people and order them to do community work, like plant bamboos. One person posted on the SunStar Cebu report on Facebook that it was her name engraved in the bamboo and she was sorry.

They didn’t even know it was wrong. They didn’t know that carving the heart sign and their initials in it harms the bamboo. What is needed is a lecture for visitors before they step into the bamboo forest, similar to the one required for butanding or whale shark watchers in Oslob. Visitors should first undergo a lecture on bamboos, how they help the environment and why defacing them means these bamboos have to die.

Other than the education part, there should be community pressure to protect these bamboos. The cooperation of everyone is needed to protect nature. Ponpon did right by putting it on social media to let others know and to build awareness.