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Apayao Isnag’s ‘Lapat’ Preserves 268 Hectares Of Virgin Forests

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Apayao Isnag’s ‘Lapat’ Preserves 268 Hectares Of Virgin Forests

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“Lapat” or the indigenous system of preserving the forest in the municipality of Calanasan here has led to the preservation of about 268 hectares of natural and virgin forests, which allows the Philippine Eagle to continue to exist and thrive.

“The lapat is an indigenous way of preserving the forest. An area is declared by the community as a protected area and once declared, human activity or even entry into the forest is prohibited,” Governor Elias Bulut Jr. said on the sidelines of the send-off of their athletes joining the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA) on Sunday evening at the Payanan Sports Complex here.

Calanasan, like Davao, also hosts the Philippine Eagle.

Proof of the bird’s presence in the area is the sending back to the forest of an eagle named “Nariha Kabugao”, which is about four years old. The bird was reportedly rescued in March after it was shot and was revived through the help of the environment department.

Nariha Kalanasan was sent off to fly back to its natural habitat on April 12 and the event was witnessed by local officials, residents, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials.

Bulut said that as a member of the Isnag tribe, he grew up recognizing the practice, which was handed down by their elders.

He noted that in Calanasan, his birthplace, even children recognize the need to preserve the forest and to protect the Philippine Eagle living in the forests.

“We call the eagle as Banamba. Normally, we see them on the roads after a flight and nobody in the community touches them because we know what they are and such recognition is part of our culture of lapat that includes protection of a natural forest resource,” he said in Filipino.

Bulut said people have become accustomed to the indigenous practice thus, making them report to the authorities violations of the declaration of lapat in their areas.

He underscored the importance of this practice not just to the environment and the eagle but to the future of the province and the people who honor the value of coexistence between nature and man.

“We need to protect our forest because we have to see the needs of our people in the future,” he added. (PNA).