Grass, forest fires hit Nueva Vizcaya
by Ben Moses Ebreo
Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya (February 19) -- A series of forest and grass fires have engulfed patches of mountains in the province, prompting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to intensify their information, education and communication campaign in the villages.
"I have already instructed our Community Environment and Natural Resources Officers (CENROs) to conduct an intensified information, education and communication activities in their areas," said Robert Apigo, provincial environment and natural resources officer.
This wek, a series of forest fires have been spotted along the mountains in the towns of Aritao, Bambang and Diadi but the DENR dismissed them as only grass fires.
"We cannot stop them because these fires happen usually at night. It is not wide in their coverage however and they are mere grass fires only. Right now, we are in the process of assessing its damage," Apigo said saying further that the assessment will be needed in rehabilitating these areas since Nueva Vizcaya serves as a watershed haven for Cagayan Valley region and some parts of Central Luzon.
Ant egg gatherers
Apigo also blamed ant or ?Abuos' egg gatherers for indiscriminately throwing their burning materials during their hunting activities.
Ant egg hunting requires gatherers to use burning poles to rid the nest of ants on top of trees before collecting their eggs inside the nest.
"During gathering, their materials are usually left burning and this will ignite dry grasses specially now that the dry spell is occurring. This is also attested by Ambaguio town mayor Moises Amokla," Apigo said.
He said that while the trade cannot be stopped because of its economic benefits among the villagers, there is a need to teach ant egg hunters, usually children and adults the proper disposal of their materials.
From January to June each year, ant egg gatherers scour the mountains in search for their prey. Ant eggs sell like hotcakes in the public markets because of its high protein value.
A cup full of ant egg is sold at P50.00 and the price becomes higher as the supply is slowly vanishing before the end of June each year.
Ant eggs are usually cooked with soup, steamed or slightly fried and served as aphrodisiacs or 'pulutan' during drinking sessions or a simple meal for villagers. (PIA NVizcaya) [top]