Amidst the threats of drought during the hot summer months and the floods that the rainy seasons bring, the importance of trees to human life becomes an urgent priority for the people in our planet.

          In Metro Manila’s concrete jungle, the “last lung” of urban living when it comes to natural environment rests in the central district of Ermita, the Arroceros Forest Park. Twenty six years ago in 1993, the 2.2 hectares parcel of land was developed to become Manila’s only naturepark as it is today. Located at the south bank of Pasig River, the park is home to 61 tree varieties wherein 3,500 wood trees and fruit bearing trees are standing tall within the urban skyway. Aside from that, there are at least 8,000 ornamental plants in the area that bring ambiance to premonaders. The park also provides habitat to at least ten different bird species. In the presence of lush trees and plants, it also serves as the home of Manila Education Center; the central office of the Division of City Schools. It is a natural haven that we Filipinos can be proud about.

          Small as it is, we can consider that with trees everywhere around us, we can treasure the ample supply of fresh air to breathe in and exhale out. In like manner, even the experience we are having with the scorching summer weather, the refreshing effect of the shade trees gives us comfort from the heat. It is also exhilarating to note that with the sturdy roots of the trees around us, the occurrence of floods can also be minimized.

          Far from ideal, the rural landscape has also changed nowadays. Many farmlands and watersheds had been converted to industrial sites and subdivisions for residential houses and resorts. Many trees were cut to serve such developmental purposes and the green horizon once known to man is slowly being erased from the vision of our eyes. Widespread as it is, we become worry and weary for droughts and floods lying in wait for the time to take their toll on human lives.

          Last May 19, 2019 the lower house in its third and final reading approved House Bills 8728 and 1154 respectively, otherwise known as the “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act.” Its primary objective is for the graduating students in different school levels to plant at least ten (10) trees each as pre-requisite for graduation. It will be a well-timed law to launch a national environmental campaign to increase public awareness because trees are vital to man’s environment and existence.

          As a concerned citizen, may it be added that the duty of the nation’s citizenry in planting trees should start by the time a learner enters the first grade in school. Through the years until the completion of her/his college study, the one tree planted per school year program will be a more productive and fruitful advocacy. The more trees we plant, the better will be the future of the next generation in addressing the concern for global warming.

          But even with or without the law, it remains the responsibility of every Filipino to start planting a tree on her/his own initiative and the time to start is…now.

                                                                                                               

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