As part of FEED’s  activity, SAVE (Student and Volunteers for the Environment) eco-warriors and Mondo Project team, did a tree planting activity in Sierra Madre Mountain range near the border of Laguna and Quezon Provinces on February 25, 2017. The volunteers planted 140 native Lauan trees, an endemic tree in the Philippines. This critically classified endangered tree by 2007 can grow up to 50 meters and will not bear branch for its first 20 to 30 meters .
The day started with us meeting at the 7/11 store on the Famy-Siniloan border at 8 in the morning. Then we head up to the UP Sierra Madre LLG & LQLG site where we were gathered in a room for a short briefing about the Philippines’ problems with deforestation, resource and logistic about the rehabilitation of our forest and unsustainable foresting. There are actually two points that resonated with us about the briefing. The first one is about the allotted budget for the rehabilitation of the sixty thousand hectare forest which was estimated to be around thirteen thousand pesos per hectare for three years. That amount is staggeringly low, which is equivalent to a little over three hundred sixty-one pesos a month, which is also why having more volunteers is largely needed to help restore our forest. Based on the briefing, it was in fact that, us, Filipinos, are mandated to plant ten trees per year! It is unfortunate, that we, in Mondo Project team, have already missed planting more than two hundred trees each and promise to plant more going forward. The second point is about planting the trees in a sustainable manner. We wonder why we plant in a place where there is already an evident population of trees instead of places where there is a scant population, particularly in Metro Manila. And the main reason is about sustainability. Planting trees in Metro Manila without proper infrastructure planning and resources is not sustainable, given that these trees will eventually be cut down due to a construction or wither because of the cost and labor maintaining these trees and also not to mention the harsh environment in the metro. Concentrating on planting the trees in a protected environment is more sustainable and will generate proper CO2 circulation.
After the briefing, we head to the planting site where we were taught how to plant the trees and then the best part has come; we started to plant the trees. Time went by and we didn’t realize how fast we were able to plant 150 trees. I guess everyone is really excited and full of enthusiasm to touch the soil and plant the trees! Our guides decided to be adventurous so we went by to little trek in the forest heading back to the camp. It was a striking noon heat when we went inside the forest and felt the cold and refreshing breeze. Our lead Forester, Mr. Rey Lorida explained to us that, that is the magic of the forest when the sun strikes hot, it protects its inhabitants inside it. When we get back to the camp, we had our hearty meal to replenish.
The last activity we had before we left the site is an experience sharing activity which was lead by Anne (Director, Partnerships in FEED) where we heard everyone’s story about why we were there, our experience planting the trees, and what we can promise to help more for the environment. It was an honest and encouraging feeling hearing everyone’s stories and more importantly, we had to experience the feeling of belongingness that there are people whom we can share our altruistic aspiration on helping our environment.
In this activity, we are fortunate to spend more time on the three eco-warrior volunteers who are Engineers in Emerson (Armel John De Vera, Karen Cabiltes and Renz Marion Valdivia). We had the chance to ask them personally why they volunteer and despite the fact that the activity was moved three times, they did not lose heart and still waited for the activity to happen. It was their first time to do a tree planting activity; they had done other outdoor activities in the past and they decided to make a difference. It was an activity they enjoy and yet fruitful for them. We believe they are good examples to follow and we are looking forward to meeting more of them in the future.
Mondo Project would like to thank the SAVE eco-warriors, LQLG and FEED for allowing us to experience this activity and we are looking forward to doing more of this in the future. Hence we are going to launch our next project, “Hundred Trees of Hearts” in the next few coming days.