Filipino netizens rallied on Twitter on Monday calling for the protection of the country’s longest mountain range, the Sierra Madre, after it weakened a super typhoon and saved the national capital from devastation.
Super Typhoon Karding (international name: Noru) weakened into a typhoon after hitting the Sierra Madre mountain range in Dingalan, Aurora province, about 175 kilometers from Manila.
From the maximum winds of 195 kph and gusts of up to 240 kph, Karding’s strength was reduced to top winds of 175 kph and gusts of up to 215 kph on Sunday evening.
Hashtag #SierraMadre or “Mother Mountain Range” has been trending on Twitter with nearly 80,000 mentions from Saturday to Monday morning.
After the second landfall of the typhoon on Sunday afternoon, more than 13,500 tweets were posted hailing the mountain range as Luzon Island’s “first line of defense” against typhoons.
Netizen @pauloMDtweets said the Sierra Madre was “once again on defense” against powerful winds.
“But she’s not going to die tonight — Not in the hands of her ex-lover. But probably with the hands of people she loves,” he said.
Storms of unrequited love
A traditional Filipino story states that Sierra was a dedicated mother of two children who lived near a lengthy coastline where Bugsong Hangin (Gust of Wind), king of the mighty easterly winds, often chose to set foot.
The story says the king of mighty winds used to court the mountain range when they were young, but Sierra fell in love with a valiant warrior.
Bugsong Hangin vowed to destroy the land where Sierra’s family lives. Since then, the Mother Mountain Range has been fighting the fiercest of winds.
Netizen @_rndrea said the weakening of typhoon “Karding” after hitting the mountain range is Sierra Madre’s way of “reminding us of her importance.”
Lawyer Rowena Guanzon, former elections commissioner, also hailed the mountain range for “keeping those winds away from Luzon” and called on the public to oppose a mega dam project that threatens the mountain.
Eule Rico Bonganay of the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns renewed his organization’s call for the Philippine government to abandon the Kaliwa Dam project.
“The Sierra Madre plays a big role as the backbone of Luzon that gives us a strong wall to weaken strong typhoons before they hit our vast land,” said Bonganay.
He said it is enough reason why Filipinos “must strengthen the #NoToKaliwaDam campaign” and oppose the wanton cutting of trees” and the displacement of Indigenous Peoples communities.
The Sierra Madre is the longest mountain range in the country that stretches 540 kilometers from Cagayan Province to Quezon Province.
In 2012, the late president Benigno Aquino III declared September 26 as “Save Sierra Madre Day” to remember the flood on September 26, 2009, which was brought about by Typhoon Ondoy and killed hundreds. The devastation was attributed to the deforestation and destruction of the Sierra Madre.