Giving life to a past dream
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - January 15, 2017 - 12:00am

When I joined the 1988 campaign for city council seat, I was alarmed by what I saw in our upland barangays. The mountains were balding. There were but a few trees that survived the previous long drought. Our farmers, too, could not produce abundantly from a parched land. There were no crash crops that survived the long, dry spell. To earn a few pesos, they cut trees and converted them to fuel not knowing that what they did aggravated the situation.

Soon after, I took my seat I proposed an ordinance to green the mountains. Working along conventional wisdom, I thought that requiring land owners to plant fruit trees    following the boundary limits could help address the concern. I remember having type-written the proposed ordinance in six sheets of long size bond paper, single-space, and availing of Elite font. Unfortunately, because I was a councilor independent of the major political parties, my proposal got bogged down. After a privilege speech asking for a committee report on my draft ordinance, the committee reported in half of a short bond-paper, double-space, a recommendation not to approve my draft ordinance. End of the story.

That was a long time ago. Almost 30 years had passed. Had the ordinance received the support of fellow councilors, the trees planted pursuant thereto would be teeming by now. Harsh political vicissitudes doomed what I imagined was a good ordinance. The proposed local legislation could have perhaps converted our mountains into green forests.

I recall my effort in the city council when I went to Barangay Paril yesterday. Standing on a mountaintop overlooking a river, I saw raging waters overflowing the banks. The rainwater the night before brought by typhoon Bising simply cascaded from the mountains. In some areas, I also saw landslides because the soil could no longer hold the weight of the water.

Fast forward to the present and the future, today we are facing climate change. There is an environmental upheaval of global proportions. But the enormity of this problem, I feel, can find simple solutions from everybody undertaking small endeavors. Perhaps, our city council can revisit what I proposed almost 30 years ago. I believe that our honorable city councilors will find some justification to put it back to the anvil of local legislation. I am sure that they too realize that we still need trees to prevent soil erosion, to minimize floods, and to do little something to offset global warming.

I must advise that my original draft was crude. It may have lacked serious scientific foundation because my background has nothing to do with natural resources. Having that in mind, I believe that there is a necessity to embellish my proposal. The idea of limiting the planting to fruits trees, spurred by the thought that farmers would not cut fruit trees to convert to wood fuel, can receive further studies. The suggestion that the planting of trees be done only along the boundaries of properties might not be ideal and even perhaps too limiting. That aspect, too, had to be studied all over again.

But the point is some local legislation had to be crafted and implemented to compel land owners especially in the mountains to plant trees. Considering that our authorities on natural resources have opined that trees need a period of three years from planting to survive, perhaps the ordinance that our councilors may draw should require strict supervision of the plants within that specific period of survival. Of course, these should translate to a funding allocation for any administrative office tasked to do the job. I think that it is basic and I believe that it is important that councilors who might sponsor this piece of suggested legislation should be generous in appropriating the required funding support.

Even if another 30 years will have passed from the present time, with the tree planting ordinance now in place, the waiting will be worth our while.

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