December has always been my favorite month because it’s always kicked off by my birthday. Being the classic Type A personality that I am and being the overachiever that I have always been labeled as, I wanted to do something out of the ordinary for my birthday. I’ve always been interested in nature and have always been involved in causes that preserve our resources so I figured I could do something in line with that. After participating in a tree planting event that they held months before my birthday, I decided to invite my closest friends for another tree planting day organized by FEED, an organization that aims to contribute to the preservation and rehabilitation of the environment by delivering high quality professionals to the Philippine environmental sector through the support of their education.
I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of their new Students & Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE) Ambassadors and I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off my birthday month than giving back to nature and fulfilling my new duties as a FEED ambassador.
A couple of weeks before the hike up to the Laguna Quezon Land Grant site in Siniloan, I managed to rally a lot of my good friends who were willing to take a hike and plant some trees with me. It wasn’t an easy hike – we were rained on, we hurdled through muddy tracks, and also braved the heat and humidity. A part of me felt sorry that I had to put my friends through this, but I am also beyond grateful that they would do this for me to celebrate my birthday.
After spending half a day trekking, planting, reforesting and exploring the foothills of the Sierra Mountains, my friends I were reminded of why what we just did will matter in the future. Forester Rey Lorida of UPLB’s Land Grant Management Office captured the moment aptly: “Our joint efforts must be continued with young leaders like yourselves; we cannot do this alone, and the Philippine Army (PA) – FEED’s and UPLB’s “Planting for Peace” Partner, Jungle Warrior Division, 2nd Infantry Battalion – are not always available to be with us preparing the site with the local community, protecting us in more remote areas of the Land Grant borders, as they are seconded to higher sand more urgent security challenges, such as the West Philippine Sea. So thank you for understanding how important this exercise is for all of us, we hope you continue to spread the word and gather more environmental enthusiasts to restore the indigenous Philippine forests in supporting the livelihoods of all its inhabitants.”
I’m incredibly proud to be working with an organization whose leaders and foresters wear their hearts on their sleeves while also braving the harsh weather, topographical conditions and sometimes even criminal elements in helping to restore the Earth to its natural glory, also ensuring the safety of all involved, including the local sometimes marginalized communities. This birthday was definitely one for the books and I couldn’t be happier that I have friends who have always supported my many quirks, and especially my wish for more people to care about Mother Nature. We are definitely going back next year to check on the trees we’ve planted and can’t wait to see how much they’ve grown!