Heritage trees are the country’s living monuments

October 03, 2021 Sunday

Heritage trees in schoools provide various long-term benefits for the school, teachers, and the students.  Photo from the presentation of Mr. Nolito Roque Alvarez from Alabang Elementary School.

MANILA, 4 October 2021 —
  The 64th episode of “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Change Pathways” featured elementary schools that are stewards of heritage trees within their campuses, highlighting educational, social, cultural, historical, and aesthetic value of native landmark trees in our communities.

The online conversation, conceptualized and hosted by a three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda gathered guests including Mr. Adolf P. Aguilar and Ms. Gina Rullamas from the Department of Education’s Bureau of Learner Support Services – Youth Formation Division (BLSS-YFD); Ms. Jenelyn Alberto from Kaligayahan Elementary School (Division of Quezon City); Mr. Nolito Roque Alvarez from Alabang Elementary School (Division of Muntinlupa City); Mr. Rodolfo Cardinez Jr. from Carcarmay Elementary School (Division of La Union); and Ms. Freida Cawaling from Albasan Elementary School (Division of Aklan). Climate Change Commissioner Rachel Herrera joined as co-host.
Mr. Aguilar and Ms. Rullamas introduced the ‘Search for Heritage Trees in Public Schools,’ a program of DepEd BLSS-YFD that aims to revive the accounting and inventory of these living historical artifacts in all public schools nationwide and intensify the preservation of the country’s vast biodiversity.
“Sa nangyari sa pandemic ngayon na ‘yung mga learning spaces natin ay nasa tahanan na, it is a good opportunity for DepEd and for us educators to bring environmental education to homes and communities this time. Kaya ang YES-O, National Greening Program namin, Gulayan sa Paaralan sa DepEd, ay dito na namin dinadala ang advocacy at pag-create ng mga immediate actions for the environment. Ang YFD ay patuloy lamang sa pag-promote ng mga advocacies na ito para sa kalikasan,” said Mr. Aguilar
“Heritage trees act as a shield during natural phenomena. They also provide homes to wildlife and keep our planet cool. Heritage trees also provide clean air and water, wood for construction and energy, and food and medicine,” said Ms. Rullamas, enumerating the many benefits of heritage trees.
The guest DepEd teachers shared their school’s efforts in protecting and preserving their century-old native trees on their respective school campuses.
“Ang gusto naming mangyari ay hindi lang ito basta maging kwento, gusto namin na maranasan rin nila ‘yung mga na-experience namin noong bata pa kami na umaakyat kami sa puno at nae-enjoy naming kainin ang mga bunga nito. Mas magandang hindi lang siya nakikita sa libro at itinuturo lang through video presentation sa schools. As much as possible, we let our students experience kung gaano kasarap tumambay sa ilalim ng puno. Iba pa rin ‘yung first-hand na nae-experience nila kasi mas magiging malalim ang appreciation nila. Ipinapakita namin ‘yung historical significance ng puno at kung gaano kaganda at kabuti na mayroon pa ring naiiwan na mga ganitong puno sa paligid natin despite of the development and economic improvement natin. Sana po ay patuloy tayong umunlad pero huwag nating pabayaan ang kalikasan,” said Ms. Alberto.
“Let’s all be like a tree: Stay grounded or focus; Connected with your root, or don’t forget where you came from; Turn over a new leaf, don’t be stagnant, be brave to do new things; Bend before you break or be flexible; Enjoy your unique natural beauty, enjoy life and what you are; and Keep growing, improve yourself. A tree will always serve as our reminder while reaching for our goals in life,” said Mr. Alvarez.
“Our tree stands as a living monument for the victory of Carcarmay folks in their efforts to guard the tree from despoilers of nature. It serves as an inspiration for young people to nurture and love a tree. It encourages the youth to hold on to their strong beliefs, hopes, and aspirations and be resilient to any circumstances,” said Mr. Cardinez.
“The towering rare cluster century-old acacia trees have been certified by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office of Aklan and considered as one of the famous attractions in the Municipality of Numancia. Its roots hold and secure water underneath so that, in times of drought or when the water runs out, it can provide a much needed water supply to plants under it. Locals used it as a sustainable resource to increase the productivity of other cultivations. Acacia has also been used in medicines, baking ingredients, tools, and woodwork. By preserving our century-old trees, ecological value and diversity were observed towards promoting a sustainable way of living,” said Ms. Cawaling.
As an online discussion to promote health, environmental consciousness, and climate-adaptive practices, "Stories for a Better Normal" aims to change the mindset of individuals, families, and communities by demonstrating ways in which a ‘better normal’ can be realized within our communities.
This online discussion is organized in partnership between the Office of Deputy Speaker Legarda and the Climate Change Commission, with support from the Department of Education, Philippine Information Agency, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, The Climate Reality Project-Philippines and Mother Earth Foundation.