as an outdoorsman, i have had a keen, if not feverish, interest in the ongoing online poll for the search of the new 7 wonders of nature. i myself have cast my choices at least 3 times. of course, i've added votes for our very own natural wonders -- not because i have this blind belief that we have the absolute best nature sites in the world, bar none, but because, at a more realistic and experiential level, i have not had the opportunity to say, see ha long bay in viet nam or paddle through the ganges river in india. in fact, i would have voted for taman negara in malaysia (and i did vote for mount kinabalu) were it nominated. i have taken a cruise into the puerto princesa subterranean river where my belief that there is a grand architect of all life was reinforced. i have seen the chocolate hills from a plane, which makes the landscape all the more amazing. i have marveled at the mayon volcano from a bus, a plane, and at the cagsawa ruins. i haven't actually seen tubbataha reef, but i have first-hand information on just how breathtaking it is. the last time i voted, i had to include 3 other sites from outside the country (not random, mind you). now, with seven philippine wonders included in the list -- hundred islands in pangasinan, taal volcano in batangas, and mount pinatubo in tarlac and zambales have just been nominated -- we can now express our love for our own without having to tow the votes of other nature sites.
just a few moments ago, the live ranking shows that the puerto princesa subterranean river is at number 1, while 2 other philippine wonders are in the top 7.
in the end, only 1 natural wonder from each country will make it to the final list of 7 wonders which will be decided by a panel of experts. i will not say that the manner in which this campaign is being done is the best way to select which among the world's natural wonders deserve to be in the top 7. certainly, there is the dimension of democratizing the selection, but demographics and internet access have to be considered and might unduly skew the perception about which natural wonders should be included. i do not doubt that the reason so many philippine sites are up there in the list is that filipinos are rabidly patriotic (in some ways not always ideal) and at the same time are often online. how many times have our miss universe candidates won the miss photogenic vote which is decided by internet votes? has anyone actually measured to what degree filipinos have permeated online communities such as friendster, facebook, and multiply? true, the current ranking may very well be just a manifestation of the amount of free time that many filipinos have. i couldn't really say that these natural creations truly reflect a global emphasis on the need to address issues such as climate change or that they embody man and womankind's commitment towards the preservation of nature. but for all the political underpinnings of the campaign and the odd statistics behind the eventual result, i am ecstatic that this much attention is being made on nature in general, and on the philippines as a land of many natural wonders in particular. there are multiplier effects in the conservation of nature, tourism, and the economy. so i encourage everyone to cast their votes. click on the image above. it won't take you 5 minutes, but it will do you and your country a lot of good.