Plant-a-Berde; Painting the Town Green One Tree at a Time

Marathons aimed at promoting environmental awareness have been in vogue lately, and although we want to do our little part in advancing this cause, we’re afraid our less-than-sturdy physiques won’t be able to take all the strain, especially considering the only exercise we get during weekdays is the inconvenient walk between our work stations and the water dispenser. Luckily for us, the guys from Green Team Philippines had a different idea in mind when they invited us to join “Plant-a-Berde,” a tree planting project organized by the group in coordination with local government units and non-government organizations. So, equipped with backpacks containing some water and snacks, we left Lucena City in the morning of November 6th to head for the plaza of Sariaya, Quezon where we were supposed to meet up with the other groups who will also be participating in the said project.

We initially thought we’d follow the organizers’ vehicles on their way up to Barangay Mamala, a sizable area covering a portion of Mount Banahaw-San Cristobal where we will be planting the rambutan and acacia saplings that we had with us, but it turned out that they had requested military officers to give us a hitch in their military trucks. Given how the medical doctors, teachers, and students who were with us that time gamely climbed aboard the imposing truck, we think it’s safe to say it was an idea that was well-received.

After traveling for about an hour, we stopped a few hundred meters away from our intended destination to travel on foot after the narrowing path made it difficult for the large truck we were on to proceed. It was a good thing the day wasn’t particularly hot, thanks to the bulky trees along the road, so the uphill climb was still enjoyable even if we had to stop walking a couple of times to catch our breath.

When we reached an abandoned patch of land that was said to have been cleared using kaingin methods, the coordinator led us to the spot where we were supposed to plant the saplings, although they had us participate in a native ritual intended as an offering to the guardians of the forest first.

They gave us the signal to start planting after that, but they advised us to check the holes where we will be planting as there were some “buried treasures” in them.  When all the saplings had been planted, they rounded us up to award the treasures which turned out to be some gift certificates among other things.

After all the prizes had been given out and the organizers called it a day, we all prepared to leave, although of course, everyone flashed their best smiles for some souvenir shots first.

It was already past lunch when we reached the town plaza where our short journey started, but in spite of our hungry stomachs and soiled shoes, it was an experience we truly enjoyed.