Eco-walk sustains environmental mission

BAGUIO CITY – Eco-Walk, the long-running indigenous culture-based children’s environmental awareness program continues to fulfill its mission to foster love of the environment among children in the city and at the same time save the Busol watershed, one of the remaining pine stands that supply potable water to parts of the city.

Several groups recently underwent the Eco-walk experience which involves hiking at the forest, lecture, tree-planting or ring-weeding of their planting sites called “muyong” after the traditional forest system of the Ifugaos.

The Baguio Seventh Day Adventist School which adopted the Eco-Walk as a yearly school activity set the tone this year with twin tours held last July and September with more than 150 elementary and high school students who planted trees at their muyong.

“(Eco-Walk helps us attain our objectives) to let the students value the natural resources around us and conserve them; enhance and foster the love and care of our environment, protect our environment against illegal ways of denuding it, appreciate the beauty of a well conserved national resources, and to let them feel the beauty of working together for progress,” school coordinator Avelino Gadiano Jr. said.

Another Eco-Walk patron, the Irisan National High School dispatched a group of more than30 students to the watershed last Sept. 25.

“The Eco-Walk never fails to inspire us in strengthening (our) commitment to the environment. After every visit, I receive positive remarks and comments from each group of participants after seeing the beauty of Busol watershed, the experience of visiting the trees they have planted, weeding a part of the muyong and realizing what they have contributed to Mother Earth,” INHS teacher Maricel Cadingan said.

Since establishing their muyong in 2008, INHS students have been returning to their muyong to either plant new trees or tend to the trees planted by their predecessors.

“Ang experience ko sa Busol watershed ay happy. Kahit kami ay nasugatan, kami ay nag-enjoy habang naglilinis…. Nalaman naming kung panno pangalagaan ang mga puno at ating kapiligiran,” Narte Mera, one of the more than 30 students who joined the tour, shared.

“Ang pagtulong sa kalikasan ay isang magandang gawain sa mga kabataang tulad naming imbes na (maglakwatsa) at magbisyo na karaniwang ginagawa ng mga kabataan ngayon… Sana hindi sirain ng mga tao and mga kagubatan ditto sa Baguio para may maabutan naman ang mga susunod na henerasyon,” 13-year old Grail Ann Calixto said.

“Masigla at excited kaming mga taga-Irisan upang linisan ang aming muyong. Kitang-kita namin na masayang masaya ang Grade 8 na nagbibilang ng mga punong itinanim namin last year,” gushed Kathleen Claire Gaki.

“Everybody went home happy and inspired to go back and visit our muyong again,” Abegail Balonglong put in.

“It inspire me to help my mother in taking care of our mini-garden. I realized being attached to nature is so great,” said Irish Oficial.

Conceptualized by members of the local media led by city public information officer Ramon Dacawi in 1991, Eco-Walk was pilot-tested in 1992 and since then became the top environmental awareness program of the Baguio Regreening Movement and the city.

Under Dacawi’s tutelage, the program won for the city the 1996 “Galing Pook” Award bestowed by the Asian Institute of Management and the Department of the Interior and Local Government. This children’s environmental immersion into the vital role of forests in sustaining life was made a model throughout the world. Its effectiveness was cited by the United Nations Environmental Programme which bestowed on the children’s project its 2002 Global 500 Award.

The program does not only move children but adults as well.

Around 20 members of the San Vicente Saving and Credit Cooperative who joined the trek to the watershed last Oct. 3 agreed with the children on the program’s worth and effectiveness in enhancing environmental consciousness among the people and in preserving and protecting the Busol watershed.

The members insisted on planting their trees despite the risk of them not surviving at all due to the lack of rains. They instead promised to visit their trees to regularly water them to ensure their survival.

The rest of the students’ reflections go:
“It is my third time to visit our muyong and I was so happy because the two trees I planted survived. I really appreciate our muyong because as Mr. Dacawi said, muyong are the ones holding the water so that it will not directly flow to the houses below the mountains,” – Joline Bohol;

“Let’s plant more trees! Trees give us many things. When they are all gone, no amount of money can bring them back again.” – Franzes Yrah Quintinita;

“Mas nakilala ko pa ang aking sarili gayun din ang aking mga kaibigan. Nakita ko kung gaano nila kamahal ang kanilang mga tinanim na puno. Dito ko napansin na kung gaano sila kataray, kasungit sa ibang tao, ay may malambot silang puso para sa kapaligiran. Nakita ko ang kaibahan ng kanilang ugali sa panlabas at panloob.” – Aezervantes Alboc;

“Kung kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan, kabataan din ang pag-asa ng kalikasan. Iligtas natin ang kalikasan dahil kalikasan din ang magliligtas sa atin.” – Javilie Mae Chatto;

“I learned that we should take case of ur nature to preserve it until the day comes that we will be the one to lead the next generation to save Mother Earth.”/Jhervy Bueanventura./A Refuerzo


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