Other viewpoints | Inquirer Opinion

Other viewpoints

Sao Paulo State University research showing that tree seeds are now significantly smaller (“Shriveled seeds,” 6/3/13) triggered comments. Was this due to unchecked hunting of fruit-eating birds? The issue is increasingly “common in tropical areas around the world.”

“More people should take note” of what Fr. Peter Walpole, at Environmental Science for Social Change, calls the “phoenix forest,” e-mailed forester Patrick Dugan. “They’re real. Phoenix forests are all around us. Everywhere. They’re a source of hope, within the grasp of people.”


Nurturing these “phoenixes” restores forest cover faster, and at lower cost. Traditional reforestation approaches report a success rate of only 30 percent. The flip side to that is 70-percent failure.

“Father Walpole offers assisted natural regeneration (ANR). Forests restored via ANR are made up of many species. [This] avoids ‘monoculture’ risks that marred conventional reforestation projects. ANR is a practical way to restore biodiversity.


“Few are aware that the Philippines received the Edouard Saouma award from the Food and Agriculture Organization for ANR accomplishments. Danao, Bohol, shows how well ANR can work.” The FAO hosted an international workshop at Danao last year that drew more than 20 Asean participants. Danao has been declared the country’s first ANR municipality.

“When forests are gone, we’ll become the Haiti of Asia,” e-mailed Walter Paul Komarnicki from Cagayan de Oro. “We’d be unable to feed ourselves or maintain security. [That’s] a failed state.” But “Imonredneck” retorted: “The Philippines is already the Haiti of Asia. Look at its geopolitics.”

From Canada, Josh Alexei wrote: “Toronto went on a tree planting mania 15 years  back. Now our city is green. We pay tree cutters to trim branches and clear power lines. Fly over the 600-square-kilometer city. Toronto is green, clean and beautiful.”

For more than 30 years, policymakers introduced various foreign species for reforestation, Aspirin200 recalled. These included South America’s large leaf mahogany to Africa’s gmelina arborea.

None succeeded. Why? Because the effort was aimed solely at producing revenue. When the trees reached merchantable height and diameter, they were sawn down: from mahogany for lumber to moluccan sau for pulp and paper. It shoved us back to where we started 30 years ago.

There was no effort to plant endemic dipterocarp and other premium species, Aspirin200 said. Despite 30 years of failure, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources hews to the inutile approach. It even allows export of raw or semifinished reforestation species.

Focus instead on noncommercially viable species, advised Aspirin200. Except for charcoal makers, none is interested in  mala  bayabas  or  toog  (baringtonia). You won’t need  battalions of forest guards. The hinterlands of Rizal, Laguna and Zambales can best showcase this effort. In highly visible areas like the North Luzon Expressway, plant highly sought  narra,  dao,  and  almaciga.


Like Cebu, “Makati has one of the lowest numbers of standing trees.” Jojo Binay can start planting belatedly, and Makati may yet emerge as an urban environmental renewal model. The “Ganito kami sa Makati” boast will then be palatable.

* * *

Pope Francis flies to Cebu City in January 2016 (“Beyond the deadwood,” 6/1/13) to attend the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. Francis’ simple lifestyle and emphasis on attention to the poor are rippling out.

Over four million attended Pope John Paul’s Luneta Mass in January 1995. Francis has similar drawing power. His visit can help a Church where some bishops “too often close in on [themselves] instead of looking outward.”

“See? The Pope focuses on what is essential,” Virgoyap wrote. “Often, our prelates and followers are entangled in the peripheral, such as the RH Law. Go to the heart of the Gospel message by helping the poor and the deprived. But many times, this is what we evade.”

Will the high and mighty again occupy the front seats, Cato the Younger said. Will they have some token poor in the soirees? After the pageant,  balik  sa  dating  gawi. “If the Pope is looking for a servant’s heart among the princes of his flock [here], he’ll be disappointed.”

* * *

The 53-year-old beggar looks a haggard 80. Naty does not fret about Senate presidencies. (“Perennial irony,” 5/25/13). What matters is food scraps and anti-TB  medicine. But what about other Natys? Almost 3.9 million Filipinos experienced hunger this March.

“Notice how chubby the kids of our politicians are?” asked Moonworshipper. “They have drivers, maids and bodyguards and attend private schools. Do they notice [the hungry] at all? When they grow up and run for public office, they’d inherit the dynastic positions of their elders. Would they suddenly … strive to end hunger which they’ve never known all their lives?”

“Those who produce the food are often the ones who suffer hunger the most,” Chloroform wrote. “And the traders/middlemen [cash in]. Our laws thumb down direct buying from farmers.”

But “why single out a few?” retorted TGM_Erick. “The economy is booming—only for those who engage in big businesses. Increases in GNP haven’t trickled down to the lowest stratum.”

And many politicians were not rich when they began their careers.

Aside from emergency food aid, the government should offer an uncultivated piece of land to poor families so they can raise poultry, plant fruits, vegetables, corn or rice, wrote tra6Gpeche. “Politicians’ pork barrel should be abolished and instead used to help those willing to learn farming and other trades.”

(E-mail: [email protected] )

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: environment, forest, Pope Francis
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Fearless views on the news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.