By KIT KAIMO
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Eight hundred seedlings of mahogany and acacia mangium were planted near Merloquet Falls in Sibulao Village, the emerging tourist destination here, as part of the Arbor Day celebration jointly held on June 25, 2013 by the Vitali Field Office of the Zamboanga City Agriculture Office (CAO) and Atro Mining-Vitali, Inc. (AMVI).
Corporate Communications Officer Antonio Manaytay of Atro Mining-Vitali, Inc. in his press statement said that during the opening ceremony Elderico Tabal, CAO Vitali field officer told some 300 participants of the importance of planting trees and taking care of it. The participants were composed of students, teachers, barangay officials, personnel from the local police and Task Force Zamboanga, City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD) staff, and AMVI employees.
“Today’s Arbor Day celebration is one occasion to remind us the need to protect our environment by planting trees,” the CAO officer said.
The city government passed City Ordinance 281 in 2006 declaring June 25 as the official Arbor Day.
According to Wikipedia, Arbor Day (from the Latin word, arbor, meaning tree) is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. It originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska, United States by J. Sterling Morton.
It said the first Arbor Day was held in the state of Nebraska on April 10, 1872; an estimated one million trees were planted that day.
Today, many countries and cities observe a similar holiday.
Tabal noted that it is the first time Arbor Day is celebrated in Vitali District.
“This is the first in our district with the help of Atro Mining company provided some 800 seedlings to be planted,” City Agriculturist stressed. The 800 seedlings are enough to cover two hectares.
The company, however, called for a more serious effort beyond “mere tree planting”.
In an email sent to all AMVI field personnel, company president Elson S. Ogario ordered that “tree planting activitiesshould have clear program of caring and really making these trees grow.”
He observed that“past practices (of other groups) of donating seedlings to so many people and organizations but most of them failed.”
“Most donations were being done just for purposes of compliance and for photo ops,” he noted, adding: “I wanted to avoid this situation. Let's create a showcase.”
Aside from supporting tree planting activities with seedlings from the company nursery, Ogario told the company environment officer to explore “an area somewhere there in the mountains of Vitali where we can directly reforest or plant our grown-up seedlings where we can make it as a showcase rather than just giving seedlings to people and we really don't know after giving whether they will really take care of it.”
He is looking forward to “tie up with Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) for an area where we can do our own reforestation program, so much the better.
“Or better still if we can contract with CENRO for an area for Industrial Tree Plantation and also as our showcase for Reforestation Program,” he ended.