Trees more than Quiboloy and Bagong Pilipinas hymn

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

I scrolled yesterday the issues of The Freeman in the past three days looking for news or features which I personally perceived to be important. First, there was this report about the failed attempt to serve the warrant of arrest on Pastor Apollo “son of god” Quiboloy. It was newsworthy because it loomed the specter of remaking the massacre of the Branch Davidians, led by a Quiboloy-alike David Koresh in Waco, Texas.

Second was the item about a directive of President Ferdinand R Marcos Jr., to incorporate the Bagong Pilipinas hymn in government functions. An encore to the Bagong Lipunan march which was imposed during martial law, its importance consisted in an attempt to rewrite our history.

The third news feature was most compelling. It came as a challenge to mankind. The Freeman questioned: “DID YOU KNOW that we still don’t know all there is to know about our forests?” Then it proceeded with a revelation that “We don’t know how many tree species there are on Earth, but scientists estimate there are about 63,000 known species. There could be as many as 9,000 tree species still unknown to science.”

This paper’s feature touched me profoundly as to remember an encounter with then Senator Jun Magsaysay, a generation ago. To commemorate the death of his father, President Ramon Magsaysay, Sen Jun, the late president’s namesake, went into Mt. Manunggal, in the company of 30 plus Beetles of the Volkswagen Club. After the ceremonies, we met one Mr. Nacua. I cannot forget his family name because he claimed to be among the first group of rescuers who arrived at the site where Pres Magsaysay’s plane, named Mt Pinatubo, crashed. 85

Even if Mr. Nacua’s role in retrieving Magsaysay’s remains was just accidental, his name should be recorded in history books in a much better perspective than Quiboloy’s. Mr. Nacua and party had a hard time finding the downed plane because the place was thickly forested. When they eventually reached the crash site but before they got the body of the president, they heard a call for help from a man atop a giant tree. The survivor was newsman Nestor Mata. According to Mr. Nacua, they learned that Mata was seated in a part of the airplane that broke off upon impact and was nestled on the tree top.

It was unfortunate that when Sen. Jun Magsaysay, came, the forest covering Mt. Manunggal was already gone. The crash site became a tourist destination area cleared of most trees. While on appearance, the senator was happy that the place was dedicated to the memory of his famous father, his furrowed forehead seemed to project a hidden sadness.

On our way to the city, Sen. Magsaysay saw the balding of our mountains. He lamented the absence of green forest cover. The senator expressed the thought that there should be an honest to goodness reforestation throughout the country, Mt. Manunggal not excluded. Remember that was 25 years ago before the terms “climate change” and tree planting became constant topics in daily conversation.

The Magsaysay wish for more trees came glowingly back to me when, few years ago, the DENR denied the city government’s request for a permit to cut the Mahogany trees affected by the development of a cemetery in Barangay Guba. Sen Jun’s idea also fitted perfectly with the plan of the late Mayor Edgardo Labella to plant 3,000,000 trees within his administration. Sadly, that program was buried with the entombment of the mayor.

Planting trees is needed. Really, my purpose in choosing writing about trees over Quiboloy and Marcos’ Bagong Pilipinas hymn is to reprise the challenge for us to take care of environment.

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