Reviving the country’s forests will take a lot of seedlings, soil, rainfall, sunlight – and a strong spirit of volunteerism.
This was in evident display in a recent tree planting activity at Mt. Banahaw in Sariaya, Quezon, by telecommunications giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, wireless subsidiary Smart Communications Inc., and Japan’s NTT Docomo Inc.
The PLDT-Smart-NTT Docomo initiative to plant trees all over the country adds up to one big effort, according to PLDT-Smart Foundation President Butch Meily.
“It’s important because years from now, we hope to come back here and see that this is a forest. For now it’s just an empty mountain in some areas, so that means a big deal. It’s something we can tell our children about, and they can also enjoy it in the future,” he said.
Employee-volunteers from the foundation and the three companies worked with the local community to plant fruit-bearing and endemic trees to support agroforestry and help improve the ecological makeup of the locality and of the communities living there.
A common goal plus a lot of hand signals, gestures and smiles more than made up for any language barrier between the Japanese nationals and their Filipino counterparts. The target was for the delegation of around 80 people to plant 5,000 seedlings, together with the local community.
“Walang separate culture. What unites all of us is our love for the environment,” says PLDT-Smart Foundation Vice President Rogelio V. Quevedo, referring to the diverse group that went to Sariaya to help restore Mt. Banahaw’s once lush forest.
PLDT and Smart have been vigorously conducting tree planting activities around the country in response to the quickly changing global environmental landscape. The partnership with NTT Docomo strengthened the group’s tree planting initiatives with a ¥3 million allocation for the year.
The blazing sun and intermittent rainshowers, combined with the slippery and muddy terrain, were not friendly to the volunteers, but nobody complained. There was laughter and even singing as employee-volunteers hiked to the planting sites.
NTT Docomo’s Itsunaga Shimojo, Executive Director of the Social Conservation Group, said it was a great experience for them to join Filipinos in the reforestation thrust.
“We are doing our own activity in Japan, which is called Docomo Woods Project. Based on that experience, we know that it’s very difficult and challenging to preserve the natural resources. We know the difficulty so we appreciate the efforts of people here,” he said.
Sachiko Sugano, Manager of NTT Docomo’s Social Conservation Group, said he believes in building ties between neighbors to aid each other in developmental projects.
“It is important for Asian countries to support each other. I hope that tree planting would be an area of collaboration that will expand into other efforts not only in terms of environmental protection but also the economy, foreign affairs, and everything, in the future,” she said.