When I visited the farm last Friday, August 16, 2013, our caretaker, Nong Endring Paragas, informed me that he saw some cogon huts already standing near or within the boundary of our farm, so we visited the area. About five or six small houses were already standing there. These are some of the local barrio folks who were given funding to reforest one or two hectares on supposedly public land which actually have private land titles.
Nong Endring said about one or two of these houses are within our farm's boundary, the others are outside. There is no electricity here, but there is a dirt road going here as it is along the road to the Bugallon dumpsite and materials recovery facility (MRF).
The DENR, with funding from bilateral or multilateral sources, has been planting and planting trees here since about three decades ago, like in many provinces nationwide. Generally those "reforestation" programs have produced more public debt than real forest, as the ones who planted the seedlings, along with the middlemen and contractors, have no long-term stake to see real forest. So it's the typical practice of 90-100 percent tree planting and 0-10 percent monitoring if those planted were indeed growing and protected from various hazards: grass fire, vines, erosion during heavy rains, lack of irrigation during dry months of March-May, plant diseases and so on.
See the seedlings they planted here, gmelina, very small and frail seedlings, on sometimes bare and rocky soil with no cover crop, no organic and soft soil under the newly planted seedlings. Notice also naturally-growing and regenerating local tree species. They were not planted but they grow robustly on this kind of soil condition.
The place is relatively cleared of tall cogon and other grasses because this is where the new upland dwellers (or squatters?) live. Outside this area, the newly planted seedlings are unprotected from those tall grasses and harsh vines.
Farther out, see tall and naturally-growing local trees.
Land titles in this land can be claimed by various private landowners, which the DENR regional office in Dagupan does not recognize. It's a legal fight between the private land owners and the DENR in the coming years.
Provincial environment office allowing mining, March 10, 2009
Silica mining in Brgy Laguit Padilla, Bugallon, Pangasinan, May 25, 2009
From Forestland to Grassland, September 21, 2012
Attempted Illegal Logging by Greedy RE Agents, February 11, 2013