Filipinos' terrible attitude toward trees, environment
By Digoy Fernandez THE heading of this particular blog is sure to jolt a few sensibilities given its pretty sweeping characterization of the Filipino’s penchant for abusing many of the God-given attributes of this country. I had not planned on writing on the topic of the unfortunate trees in Plaza Roma, but something just clicked and "made me do it"! First of all, I will not make any accusations against the two major parties -- Bambi Harper and Secretary Lito Atienza -- involved, not only because I know them well, but because I know that the fault sometimes lies elsewhere. When I read about the contractor that supposedly massacred said trees instead of following the instructions to ball some of those worth saving, I was reminded of what happens all too often when ignorant workers proceed to "trim" branches of trees. Supposedly to prevent them from hitting electric wires or from becoming too extensive and dangerous in times when typhoon winds can cause them to break and cause damage. Meralco, for example, has an excellent manual for use by its people, and now, their sub-contractors, in the trimming of trees. Unfortunately, all these sub-contractors do is to use long bolos (machetes) and proceed to hack away at branches of trees. In other countries, the "tree doctors" and maintenance personnel in charge of this task first study the tree involved, visualize the way they want the branches to spread out, and, work with the knowledge of how their trimming activities will affect the tree's health and future growth. They use tree trimmers or small chainsaws to cut off the offending branches, apply paint or an antiseptic to the portion cut to cauterize the "wound." They know that indiscriminate cutting or trimming will only cause water-sprouts to grow and spread, causing even more dense foliage than before, defeating the purpose of the exercise. They also fail to paint the wounded limb, which will then allow moisture to come in and cause rotting, and the inevitable insect infestation. Besides, no one should trim during the rainy season. The wet season will surely cause fungus to take root in the wounded portions of trees not well cut or trimmed. Best time to do trimming activities is during the months of January to March! Why do I say this? Because I saw my pet peeve, the Meralco sub-contractor working our area, in our village the other day, hard at work chopping off the tops of our trees. These people are no less culpable than the contractor who got his signals crossed in the ill-fated Plaza Roma incident. Meanwhile, I always watch my favorite shows on Nat Geo, Discovery, and the Animal channels, and am almost always struck by the beauty of the world’s many (fast vanishing) wild places. But nothing catches one’s attention like a meandering stream or a pristine river making its way through a wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, there are practically no more clean rivers in highly urbanized areas these days. Unlike during the pre-war times then my late father and his friends would play hookey from their classes at the old Ateneo in Intramuros in order to swim across the Pasig. To do so now would invite sure sickness and possibly death from the many noxious and poisonous bacteria and other strange flotsam and jetsam in the river. (By the way, the Pasig River ferry is a pleasant cruise, as my classmates and I found out as we made our way from Guadalupe to Escolta in order to have a joyful lunch in the Binondo area!) The care for nature and our habitat is something that can’t simply be learned in school. Parents have to teach and ingrain in their children why trees are beneficial, for example, instead of setting a bad example and cutting them down because they shed leaves! Households have to perfect the task of separating garbage, and contractors have to respect this practice and not simply dump everything together in a landfill. This will defeat the practice of waste segregation in the first place. We also have the duty to teach children not to litter, not to leave used chewing gum under tables and chairs, not to urinate in [laces other than toilets, and other minutiae like these. Then, maybe we will begin to see a sea change in the terrible attitude many Filipinos have with respect to the things they take for granted, especially their habitats.
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