Sabado, Agosto 30, 2014

Happy Birthday Tree project: a call for unified action to give back to the environment

“There are three things that make one immortal: writing a book, siring a son, and planting a tree.”

These were the words from Philippine Information Agency-NCR Regional Director Riza Baldoria spoken to hundreds of eager participants of the “Happy Birthday Tree” project held on August 30 at the La Mesa Watershed and Ecopark in Quezon City.

While the above adage does not necessarily hold true in terms of bestowing physical immortality to a human being, it would definitely leave a legacy to the world that would impact other people’s lives one way or another.

The “Happy Birthday Tree” project aims to do exactly that: to perpetuate life by providing a conducive living space for the next generation to enjoy.

A project of the Pilipinas Natin, the Presidential Communications Operations Office’s (PCOO) volunteerism arm mandated to connect government with the people through volunteerism, the Happy Birthday Tree is an act of commitment by the people to care for the environment through a sustained tree-planting activity. The initiative would ultimately build healthy, humane, and nurturing communities in an empowered nation.

In the midst of countless tree-planting activities being undertaken all throughout the country following the massive greening campaign of the government through Executive Order 26 or the National Greening Program (NGP), the Happy Birthday Tree is unique in its own right.

For one, it encourages “volunteers” to plant tree saplings, the number of which is equal to their age. The task goes on thereafter, as each year on their birthday, volunteers would continue planting at least one tree. And just as one would take care of himself or herself to sustain life, the project encourages the tree-planters to monitor their own trees until such time that these have grown fully.

Director Baldoria said that the activity is a way of giving back to the environment, which because of our excessive and mindless use, has deteriorated greatly over the years.

“And now, all our collective human activities has reached a point where a bigger problem has arisen--- climate change that threatens the world today,” Baldoria added.

She also explained that the Happy Birthday Tree is among the climate change adaptation and mitigation measures that we need to undertake to at least curb the ill effects of the said global phenomenon.

Meanwhile, PIA Director General Jose Mari Oquinena challenges every Filipino to go back to man’s natural ways for the redemption of the environment.

"What is the natural thing that we should be doing? And what should die in us Filipinos every day to be angels of the environment, the Filipino people, and of the country so that in the future, Filipinos would be known as heroes – a race that gave their all for the environment and offered their lives for their country?”

The Happy Birthday Tree, which was launched in 2013, saw supporters and advocates not only from different government agencies, but also from the private sector and different academic institutions all over the country.

The activity signals the beginning of an extensive tree-planting project in NCR, with another one set in October in Muntinlupa City.

The project is also supportive of the NGP’s target of planting some 1.5 billion trees covering about 1.5-million hectares nationwide to promote resource conservation and protection, productivity enhancement, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and poverty reduction.

The Happy Birthday Tree is organized by the Pilipinas Natin, in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and PIA. The Quezon City leg of the project was in participation of Canon Philippines, LBC Foundation, JCI, AFP-CRS, Phil.Navy, Phil.Army, Phil.Air Force, La Consolacion Manila, Ateneo de Manila, Adamson University, and Rescue 926. #

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