The UST Faculty Association of Institute of Religion, in cooperation with the UST Simbahayan Community Development Office, Religious Educators Association of the Philippines (REAP), and Aksyon Kalikasan Organization, organized a Tree-Planting Program last October 9, 2022.
The organizers conducted the program in Siniloan, Laguna, where 50 Thomasian academic staff and their families attended, five of which came from the UST Faculty of Engineering (FoE). These faculty members were Engr. Rajiv Eldon E. Abdullah, M.Eng., Asst. Prof. Dolores S.D. Cleofas, Ph.D., ASEAN Engr., Engr. Maria Victoria Viray, Engr. Shikara P. Poblete M.Sc, and Engr. Ma. Madecheen S. Pangaliman, M.Sc.
Mr. Chot Velasquez, President of Aksyon Kalikasan, led the discussions in the program which focused on the significance and current condition of Sierra Madre, the message of Laudato Si, as well as the Republic Act 10176, or the Arbor Day Act of 2012, which mandates all able-bodied citizens from the age of 12 to plant one tree every year.
“I think ‘yun ‘yung pinakamagandang takeaway namin eh, ‘yung bagong knowledge na natutunan namin. Hindi lang kami nag-tree planting, we also learned ‘yung relevance ng ginawa namin,” Dr. Cleofas shared in an interview in reference to this mandate.
Aligned with the message of the speaker, Dr. Cleofas also encourages fellow staff members and students of the university to be aware of the environment and do their part in saving the Sierra Madre.
“Right after the storm, parang puring-puri natin ‘yung Sierra Madre pero we are not doing anything, so sana lahat, put your words into action,” she said in her final statements in the interview.
The program is part of the “One Million Trees for Sierra Madre Mountain Range” project.
The Sierra Madre is the longest mountain range in the country, stretching from the province of Cagayan to the province of Quezon, and bordered by Calabarzon to the southwest.
Written by: Kateleen A. Vicente
Photo courtesy of Engr. Ma. Madecheen S. Pangaliman, M.Sc