Sierra Madre mountains credited with saving lives by mitigating typhoon Karding’s impact, experts call for their renewed protection

Sierra Madre, the Philippines’ longest mountain range, trended on Twitter as Filipinos renewed calls to save the mountains in the aftermath of the typhoon “Karding” (known internationally as “Noru”).

Karding, which ravaged Metro Manila and most parts of Luzon, is the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines so far this year and first made landfall in the Polilio Islands in Quezon at 5:30pm Sunday, with sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

In an interview with DZMM Teleradyo, ABS-CBN meteorologist Arial Rojas confirmed that the mountain range, considered the backbone of Luzon, weakened the typhoon’s power and mitigated its impact.

Sierra Madre runs along Luzon’s northeast coast from the provinces of Cagayan to Quezon.

Former Ifugao governor and environment advocate Teddy Baguilat posted an infographic explaining how the Sierra Madre acts as a buffer against typhoons and encouraged netizens to oppose the Kaliwa Dam project — which would traverse the provinces of Quezon and Rizal.

Creative director Gerry Cacanindin asked Filipinos to remember this as the day that the Sierra Madre saved many lives in Luzon and Metro Manila. He implored them to not vote for politicians with ties to mining or logging interests that kill or redtag environmentalists “if we want Sierra Madre to keep doing her thing.”

Some users, such as ABS-CBN journalist Wena Cos and the organization World Wide Fund, called attention to the fact that today just happenes to be Sierra Madre Day, as declared by Proclamation No. 412 of 2012. The day was enacted to remember the massive flooding in Metro Manila and nearby areas caused by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, which was attributed to the continued deforestation of Sierra Madre.

Another user, Jim Gumboc, posted a two-minute animated video that quickly illustrates how the mountain range, in its preserved state, is able to protect lives in times of disaster.

On Twitter, petitions to stop the China-backed Kaliwa Dam project also made the rounds. The petition says the project’s construction will have a number of adverse effects such as the destruction of biodiversity in the Sierra Madre mountains, which is home to some 126 species; increased safety risks for the 100,000 residents who live at the foot of the mountains due to the increased chance of massive flooding; the displacement of the Dumagat-Remontados indigenous community; and the debt from the PHP10.37 billion loan from China (US$176 million) required to finance it.

READ: ​​#NasaanAngPangulo trends as Marcos posts vlog while typhoon ‘Karding’ batters Manila, most of Luzon