Joy of planting trees
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - May 17, 2018 - 12:00am

It is disturbing to see our soil scorched dry, Mother earth parched, mountains getting bald. Brown and seemingly arid land can be seen in many places where, in the past,covered with green and lush forests.

Few days ago, unusually hot and humid, a weather specialist reported an item that many would take for granted: Warming temperature is caused by man himself. He was not reading a teleprompter or a written script but he mentioned something that tickled me pink: He urged his viewers to plant trees to make our environment a little bit cooler.

I bought a small land at sitioBaugo, between Barangays Mabini and Paril. I planned to convert it into a small garden where I would grow vegetables for my family's consumption. To secure its area, I planted trees along the perimeter and that was when I got mabolo seedlings from Baybay City, Leyte, and tugas and fruit trees from Mandaue City. I imagined that,shortly after my time is up, my children and grandchildren can use hardwood as kamagong (from Mabolo) and tugas to build their homes.

In the presidency of the late Ferdinand Marcos, there were government programs designed to coax people to plant trees. From my observation and knowledgeable sources, I concluded that those efforts failed. Either the programs were launched as cover for corrupt ends or we did not appreciate their value, I am not certain. If the programs were only pursued in earnest, we would now have tall and large trees even within city limits.

Now I realize that many tree-planting activities by employees of private corporations do not produce tall trees. They make a big fuzz of the activity without knowing that the seedlings cannot just be left to the vagaries of nature. Neither have they understood the philosophy of the undertaking, including commitment to making their plants survive. How many of those who joined these projects returned to the area to find out what might have happened to their plants? Hardly no one, because most of them do not know that after-care is necessary otherwise seedlings just wither and die.

In my non-scientific way, I make sure that in the next weeks after planting young trees, I water them regularly unless rains drench them. Without formal education in agronomy, I remove the bushes that outgrow and overwhelm my plants. The physical activity may be hard to my aging body but the joy in seeing the trees grow taller is more than enough to soothe aching muscles. I have somehow succeeded because I achieve a mortality rate of less than five per cent.

I am now beginning to harvest the fruits. I have tasted macopa, caimito, tambis and lomboy. Only avocado and chico have not yielded fruits yet. Of the nearly 200 trees that I nurtured, about 20 are fruit-bearing. There is a study saying a mabolo tree, when harvested 30 years from planting, carries an estimated value of P1 million. Wow!

The prospect of a financial bonanza from planting trees is a certain lure. But the idea of contributing to the health of Mother Earth each time we plant and nurture a tree till it towers is most compelling.

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