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Letter from a hunter as sent to Philippine Daily Inquirer

December 13, 2007

I HUNTER!

This is for Mr. Mike Lu and Mr. Juan Mercado,

In the article entitled "Slaughter of Birds", you mentioned that hunters, along with deforestation and urban progress are responsible for the diminishing number of birds in the country, and perhaps the world.

I have to react as a hunter. I have been hunting since I was a small boy of 8 years. My father gave me my first airgun at this age. But with this airgun he instilled in me the great responsibility that came with owning such a "toy". As well as providing me the REAL experience of communing with nature.

In essence, these I feel are the true traits of a hunter. His sense of responsibility for safety and for nature. For where else does a hunter go to find his prey? Up in the mountains and in the forests and plains where the birds are, in their natural habitat.

When I was a young boy, sometime in 1972, I used to go to Susong Dalaga, Bulacan to hunt with my father and brother. It was my first taste of nature, drinking from a spring, tasting for the first time the sweet water that flows out from nature's bosom, marveling at the huge trees and the crystal clear streams and great mountain ranges of the Sierra Madre.

In the 1980's, as a young boy in high school, I used to hunt at the UP Arboretum and the open fields of the then distant "Fairview" and Lamesa Dam. Here in these places we could find flocks and flocks of wild doves, snipes (during the season), rail and quail.

Today, I ask you to go to those places. What will you see? Subdivisions with house after house after house, highways with smoke belching buses, jeeps and private vehicles, malls that bring crowds of people and all these polluting the once clear streams where I used to enjoy wading or we would have lunch beside.

The once beautiful forested hillsides have been bulldozed and the green fields are nothing but vacant lots for parking.
No more are the cooing of the doves the shrieking of the rails and at night the cry of the nighthawks.

I love nature. It is a part of me as I am a part of it. And nothing pains me more, as it pains any other pure blooded hunter more, to see the destruction (wide f_cking scale destruction) of our quarries' habitat.

We responsible hunters with a true sense of responsibility and love for nature do not take more than we can eat. And we do not shoot what we do not intend to eat. And we have strict rules, laws and norms that we follow.

Here in Palawan our family owns a 21 hectare piece of property that we intend to keep as a bird sanctuary and nature reserve. Each hunter through time matures and metamorphosis’s into a conservationist like no other.

For it is us who know what it feels to be one with nature, stalking prey and learning from the wild. It is us who have slept with the biting insects of the night, the creeping critters of the forest floor and haunting sounds of the forest all around us and awakening to a dawn filled with the wild song of a hundred or more different kinds of birds.

Only a few of you conservationists have really gotten down and crawled on the earth that you so defend. Have you ever sat in the middle of a forest under the pouring rain sitting on a wet ground just listening to the raindrops falling on leaves, rocks, water and mud?

Have you ever waded into waist deep marsh water with the pungent smell of decaying plants with a slight hint of methane gas to get up close and personal with the wild marsh birds? Not just to wade in for a minute or two but to immerse yourself in the wild mix of rotting leaves, grass, insect, frogs for hours on end?

Perhaps only a hand full of you conservationists can answer YES to these questions. But we hunters, a vast majority of us know all these and have experienced these delightful escapades with nature.

So let us be fair, we are not a bunch of gung-ho and reckless killers that you have so readily labeled us to be.

I ask you, in other countries, hunters contribute a lot to the conservation of the wild by way of paying hunting permits and licenses. In other countries there are hunting "on and off" seasons. We can discipline ourselves and our ranks as well, why not direct your own gun sights to other groups that are responsible the wide scale destruction of bird and other animal habitat. Like the big time real estate developers that bulldoze hectares and hectares of marsh land just to build houses or malls?

We are with you in the conservation of natural habitat... we hope that at least this message can get through to you.

I would really appreciate your reply regarding this matter ... than you ...

JOHN PATRICK S. MATTA
Mun. Councilor
Vice Chairman, Committee on Environment
Municipality of Coron
Province of Palawan