“FIRE Prevention Month” of March was proclaimed by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos under Proclamation No. 115-A, s. 1966 which reminds me of scenes of forest fires that occur during the hotter days of this month.
Not all are natural occurrences because many are actually fires started by kaingin farmers. If these are natural fires, cattle and farm houses could be burned, but none of that happens. It is because the animals are kept away before a kaingin fire is started.
Forest fires are ordinary scenes in the forested mountains of Benguet, Kalinga and Mountain Province that are encroached by pioneering vegetable farmers. But it has become a serious concern aggravated by the kaingin system, or the utilization of fire for mountain agriculture and grazing.
The other causes of forest fires are lightning discharges and natural combustion blamed on the hot weather. The problem now is that forest fires occur on many spots at the same time that cannot be put out because of a shortage of firefighters.
In 2013, the DENR hired around 530 “former” CPLA cadres as forest guards. Accordingly, each forest guard received a monthly allowance of P8,000. I am not aware if they continue to be hired today.
But I think the better way to make use of the money is to employ well-meaning volunteer-farmers who are actual residents of the community where forest fires usually occur, not the fortune hunters of yesterday.
The first International Women’s Day was held on March 19, 1911 although it was supposed to be celebrated on March 8 by the UN Organization. However, celebration goes back to the late 1800s during the start of women’s socialist movements and early women’s trade union groups.
Although the past has always been a world dominated by men, there were historical moments in ancient times that were highlighted by the remarkable leadership of women like Cleopatra, Queen Nefertiti, Joan of Arc and many more.
The observance of IWD was a result of the activities of women in 1909 when they organized labor strikes and protests against low wages, poor working conditions and lack of protective legislation in the United States, supposedly the “land of milk and honey.”
We do not have to look far to find out the working conditions of women. The street protests in Manila attest to the fact that there is a need for laws to uplift the working standards of women workers in factories and industrial plants.
This merry month of March should be celebrated for the women health workers, women in the police and armed forces who are the frontliners in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and female teachers too.
IWD should be dedicated to all other women, including the ordinary street sweepers who keep our roads clean, the women in the vegetable gardens who produce our food, and sales ladies who make mall owners rich.
Women’s Day in March is also for the women musicians who, with their songs sway customers to buy all the beers, not to forget the women entertainers who dance on tables and spread all their souls just to bring home bacon for the family’s next meal.
To cap it all, contemporary poet-singer Billy Joel said, “She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes. She can ruin your faith with her casual lies. And she only reveals what she wants you to see. She hides like a child, but she’s always a woman to me.”
A vibrant month to all but beware, the Ides of March!