by Jonna Mae Linghon
I grew up in the province, so I was very blessed to be close to nature. We were living in a rural area far from the city. We had a lot of trees around our house of which some were fruit-bearing. To name a few, we had trees bearing mango, guyabano, pomelo and guava. These fruit trees are conducive to the tropical climate of the Philippines.
Apart from providing myself and my family nourishment, these trees functioned as shade, as our air filtration system and our personal sustainable “air conditioner”, as it cooled the air as it passed through our home. My most exciting memory as a child was when it came time for fruit picking season. My mother would allow us to pick one of each kind to have as part of our “merienda” or snack!
My mother loves to plant. She would tell me stories about how my grandfather had planted those trees when he was my age. He taught my mother the value of giving back to the earth and the earth shall provide in return. As I grew up, I began to notice that the trees that once provided us with fruits, clean air and shade were slowly disappearing. I began to ask questions, “Where are the trees going?” My mother could only sigh in disappointment and reply by saying, “they're being cut and sold to be a part of someone else’s home”. I never really thought about the importance of trees while growing up. I simply thought that they would just always grow everywhere and were abundant. Sadly, I was wrong as each day passed and one by one our trees disappeared. The once beautiful lush green landscape was now barren and grim.
This experience taught me that It is extremely important for children to be educated on the importance of preserving nature. According to a recent article, the Philippines house of representative has put forward a bill requiring students to plant 10 trees before graduating. This is called the House bill 8728, or the Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act. This initiative, if properly implemented, will ensure that at least 175 million new trees would be planted each year!
As I have become older and currently live in the city, I reminisce about my childhood memories. Playing outside and taking shade away from the mid-day sun and breathing the fresh air that I rarely get by being in the city. I do yearn to re-settle back in my province at a later point in life, enjoy the simple things and hopefully have my own trees.
I believe that this current pandemic has taught us a lot. News articles have published stories titled: "Wild Animals enjoy the freedom of a quieter world" shows us what we have taken our planet for granted. It's just a shame that it took a pandemic for us to truly open our eyes! On a positive note, COVID-19 has also created a new trend of “plantitas” or “planting aunties”! These are city-based individuals who have taken up gardening and planting as a form of pass time, source of food or hobby, during the lockdown months imposed by the government. My family and friends are absolutely obsessed with urban farming!
I suppose what I’m trying to say here is that people have gone back to basics. We choose to see the positive impact it has had in giving the planet a break. According to an OECD article called “Making the green recovery work for jobs, income and growth”, COVID-19 has had a contribution to global effort. CO2 emissions are expected to decline overall by 8% in 2020 versus 10 years ago due to the shutdown of public transportation, traffic congestion, manufacturing etc. I think the next question is - how are we going to sustain this? Mother nature has a way of coming back full circle. We should see this pandemic as a teachable moment that there just might be a way to be kinder to our planet.
1. Bowler, J. (2019). Philippines Passes Bill Requiring Students to Plant 10 Trees Before Graduating.https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.sciencealert.com/philippines-passes-bill-requiring-graduating-students-to-plant-10-trees-before-graduating/amp
2. OECD. (2020). Making the green recovery work for jobs, income and growth. https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/making-the-green-recovery-work-for-jobs-income-and-growth-a505f3e7/