Quantcast
Latest Stories

Not just any tree, got to be native for Odette Alcantara

By

ODETTE ALCANTARA is dearly missed. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

Her fiery spirit continues to stoke the passions of her fellow earth defenders. And so it is that three years after her death, Odette Alcantara is still called upon to be the champion of the trees.

For trees, as Rabindranath Tagore once put it, “are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”

Alcantara is the face and inspiration behind a new campaign launched on Thursday to save the Philippines’ native trees.

Spearheaded by Earth Day Network Philippines Inc. (EDNPI), a group founded by Alcantara and like-minded individuals, the “Odette Alcantara Legacy Trees Project” seeks to conserve and preserve the country’s indigenous and endemic tree species.

“This is the fulfillment of a long discussion we had on how do we extend the legacy of Odette Alcantara,” EDNPI president Roberto Guevarra said during the project launch at Miriam College in Quezon City.

“When it came to Tita Odette, we remember her passion for trees,” he said. In an audiovisual presentation honoring Alcantara’s memory, the caption to one slide showed one of her famous lines: “I don’t like flowers. I just want trees.”

A patron of the arts and a distinguished chess player who took part in an Olympiad in the 1970s, Alcantara died on Sept. 22, 2009, nine days before her 69th birthday. Her ashes were scattered in her farm in Tanay, Rizal, to nourish saplings that were planted that day in her honor.

Earth-saving missions

An obituary in the Inquirer described Alcantara as an ardent campaigner known for her colorful, sometimes quirky, earth-saving missions, from shielding trees against urban planners to lobbying Congress for the passage of solid waste and clean air laws.

One of her more memorable “gimmicks” came during the 100th birth anniversary of President Ramon Magsaysay when she gathered more than a hundred men named Ramon to plant trees.

Alcantara also mounted protests against the cutting of trees along Katipunan Avenue, at Quezon City Memorial Circle, Arroceros Park and Intramuros in Manila.

In explaining Legacy Trees, Guevarra stressed that planting trees was not enough. The type of tree is important, too.

“Although it’s good for the environment to plant any kind of tree, we are alarmed by the proliferation of exotic trees being planted by the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources),” Guevarra said.

Introduced species

Instead of planting native tree species such as red and white lauan, apitong and kamagong, the government’s reforestation program has focused on “introduced species” such as mahogany and gmelina, he said.

“In one visit to the DENR nurseries, we saw that most of the trees are mahogany and gmelina. We realized that we really need to do something about this trend,” Guevarra said.

Sandra L. Yap, a professor at the University of the Philippines Institute of Biology, said as much as 98.5 percent of planted forests consist of introduced species.

This may have far-reaching implications on the survival of some 3,600 native Philippine species, considering that deforestation has left only 3 percent of primary or old-growth forest cover, Yap, who is also affiliated with the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society Inc., said.

Not enough studies have been conducted to determine how much at risk Philippine trees are, and the trees may vanish before a determination can be done, Yap said. Of the native tree species, about two-thirds are endemic, or can only be found in the Philippines.

The government estimates that only 7.6-million hectares of forest cover (including secondary) remain, representing about a quarter of the Philippines’ total land area of 30-million ha. “Open, denuded, degraded and barren” land comprise 8.2 million ha.

Impact on ecology

Yap said another potential problem with the planting of exotic species involved the effects of those trees on the local ecosystem, particularly wildlife such as birds and insects.

She cited as an example a man-made forest in Bohol province consisting mostly of soaring mahogany trees.

“It looks very pretty, like being in a different country, all these big trees going out to the clouds. What’s bad about this is there aren’t any understory plants … There’s no native wildlife. You don’t hear birds chirping,” she said.

Yap said she was told the rationale for the man-made forest was, first, for watershed and, second, for animals to return.

“They were able to succeed with their first goal, but not their second goal,” she said.

The introduced species, Yap said, can host native wildlife, as many animals are skillful at adapting. “But what about our native species that are not so quick to adapt?” she said.

Goal: 10-million trees

Legacy Trees is part of the EDNPI’s Trees4Life: Tubong Pinoy Movement, a campaign to gather and drive government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, business corporations and cause-oriented groups to plant 10-million native trees in 10 years.

Under the project, individuals and groups can adopt a native Philippine tree by supporting its propagation, planting and care or maintenance within the various project sites to ensure the seedlings will grow into healthy living trees, Guevarra said.

Planting sites include Halcon Heritage Forest Museum in Oriental Mindoro, the Aeta Ancestral Domain Area in Botolan, Zambales, and Mt. Talamitam in Nasugbu, Batangas.

Donations

A seedling costs P300. The donor will receive a certificate of adoption indicating the species and the number of seedlings adopted, the GPS location of the planting site and the series numbers to be used in the Legacy Trees Logbook.

For donations reaching and topping P5,000, a certificate of donation will be issued to the donors, enabling them to deduct the amount from their annual income tax.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Earth Day Network Philippines Inc. , environmental issues , Odette Alcantara , Philippine native trees , Trees , tribute

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Voltaire-P-Alferez/517746039 Voltaire P. Alferez

    We miss you Tita Odette!



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  3. This is not just a farm
  4. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  5. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  6. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. The truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, eggs benedict, chicken leg confit are excellent
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  5. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  6. South Koreans crave Asia’s smelliest fish
  7. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Ex-Givenchy model fights for ‘Yolanda’ survivors

News

  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers
  • South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  • Classmates celebrating 60th birthday among missing in ferry sinking
  • Sports

  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Business

  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster
  • PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS
  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
    Marketplace