An Open Letter from an Ex-Beauty Queen
I am writing this letter with sadness, knowing you don’t seem to recognize the sacrifice I’m doing for you.
I am Maria Cristina. Never mind my surname, I don’t deserve it anymore. I come all the way from Lake Lanao in Marawi City, freely laughing, gracefully dancing, and gleefully singing my way down the long and winding Agus River, the only outlet of Mindanao’s biggest (and the Philippines second) body of freshwater. Reaching Iligan City, I made a spectacular drop. Wow, marvelous and exciting!
You used to stand gazing at me in amazement, awestruck, obviously mesmerized by the splendor and the beauty of my fall. I was simply majestic and, no doubt, you adored me so! By the way you’ve been scattering my pictures throughout the world, and from the many people who traveled far and wide just to see me as a breathtaking tourist attraction, I was undoubtedly your pride.
Until my mother, the Philippines, called me for service. She was serious this time. She was ill. She was disillusioned. My brother, the Nuclear Power Plant in Bataan for whom she spent an enormous amount of her meager wealth, was a failure. I was made to understand that I have to help my ailing mother by taking over the responsibility my brother, the Nuclear Power Plant, had given up. They call it the indigenous means of power supply – hydro-electricity.
Father Government, who used to pamper me with pictures, tourists and poetry, then came to me with another brother, the National Power Corporation. We now had to work together. It was such an ordeal and I had not much choice.
Work and responsibility! I was conditioned to believe I was created to please and not to serve. But there is no complaining with Father Government. His word is Law. The next thing I knew I was speeding down a new passage. Agus River had been re-routed to hasten my flow.
I am now made to scramble down in various unglamorous falls over rough and ugly structures. My once leisurely journey and glamorous entrance to Iligan Bay is now being controlled and regulated by a dam, with turbines rolling in synchronized screams and guffaws of what used to be a gentle melody on its riverbed. To top it all, my riverside playmates, the soft earth and the lush vegetation that used to hug and caress me alongside as I pass by got trapped behind walls called dikes. My life was never the same again!
From far away I heard the feeble sobs of my dear sisters, the rice fields, fishponds and watershed around Lake Lanao. Some unscrupulous people have been denuding the forests nearby indiscriminately, destroying the watershed in the process, and causing the rice fields and fishponds to dry up. They need me, I know. I am their natural and most vital necessity for survival. Poor little sisters! Without help the nation’s pride in its abundance of rice and fresh water produce (milkfish, tilapia, carps, prawns) will soon be wounded.
And then Father Government introduced my other brothers, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). NIA and DENR will see the rice fields, the fishponds, and the watershed and take care of them. I hope they would! My sisters’ plight is breaking my heart! They have a noble purpose to serve, too, much nobler than mine.
Right now I am sad. I miss a lot … my beautiful, leisurely and exciting journey from Lake Lanao through the natural winding route of the Agus River; the soft earth alongside and lush vegetation clinging about; the gentle riverbed and the lulling melody of the wind; and my oh-so-marvelous fall! I am now a waterfall and a tourist attraction by appointment, you know? The Tourism Office has got to request for approval from the National Power Corporation for me to do my majestic and amazing drop. It’s unfortunate, but without proper control and vigilance, Mindanao’s power supply is at stake!
I long for the fun, the freedom, the glamour, the beauty that I used to have. They are all gone now. I have to accept I was meant for greater things, a nobler mission.
So, here I am, my careless laughter transformed into a tireless motion. I used to be so proud of my fame and splendor. Now the dignity of service has taken that place in my heart and my whole being. I left my throne as a beauty queen to serve mankind. I power the economy for my people’s sustenance and my nation’s progress.
At the moment I am dreaming: That all of us will work as one for love of Mother Philippines, because she’s the only one we have. To her we must dedicate our services with utmost worth and devotion.
And I plead in my every heartbeat. For I so love you all that I gave up my throne, my freedom, my beauty and my happiness in favor of your need, please help me. My obsession is to spread my power and extend my services to as far and as long as I can. Please conserve energy. Father Government has already set the measures for energy conservation. Your only role is to follow them. Please do not just think about this. Act on this, now.
With all my love,
Maria Cristina (Waterfalls)
Iligan City, Lanao del Norte