I SAW TODAY, November 6, 2009, the felling or the sentencing to death, so to speak, of a jackfruit tree and a mango tree, both full grown and in the prime of their existence, because it gets in the way of a hotel rising in Cebu. Too bad, I wished I have trees as big as those in my lot.
I have tasted their sweet fruit only this year because this is the year that they have started to bloom well, thanks to the good effort of Edgar, the property caretaker. But, Edgar had left a week ago to look for other greener pastures and now the fates of the jackfruit and mango trees will have to go as well.
I have nothing against development and it is good. Not all the time, though.
The trees were cut because the owners of the property where it grew upon stood in the way of their dream hotel. The architect contracted produced a conventional plan that fit well to the wishes of the developer. The package is delivered and it is executed according to plan.
Rare nowadays, for an architect to exude an independent streak and nurtured a heart for trees and the environment. Most often, they will give in to the demands or, to be more specific, the specifications of the client coaxed by an offer of a substantial sum of money for their services.
To my opinion, the best architects and planners in the world are those that complement and incorporate existing trees into their design or go around it regardless of what their owners think. These kind are excellent thinkers and innovators but they are as rare as the Sumatran white rhino nowadays.
Years ago, I grew a star apple tree in a vacant lot. I drew a plan for a new house in that lot that will leave the tree standing amidst the structure and will host a small green space. My plan was revised, the tree cut and I nursed a long-running spat with my wife. Like the mango and jackfruit trees, my star apple tree just bore fruit on that year it was cut.
For the last time I saw both trees standing, I took pictures of the beautiful mango and jackfruit trees. I collected the last fruits of the mango to carry it home and then tell my wife that it is the last I will bring to her free. Then the unsavory noise of the chain saw broke the silence and I disdain that sound very much.
I always felt, everytime I see a tree intentionally cut, a little part of me dies. It's like I am connected directly to them and it hurts. Today, my heart cried and I am so depressed...
Let me remind you that whatever you do to trees it will come back at you someday. Please, remember this: it will take many years to grow and nurture a tree yet, in an instant, you could end its life prematurely. Isn't that unfair? Arrogance, perhaps?
A classic poem about trees will refresh you on this, dear Mr. Architect:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But God can only make a tree.
Yes, our accomplishments and creations are mere fool's whim, but ONLY God can make a tree!
Finally, I have a four-year old mango and jackfruit trees growing in my backyard. I planted the trees because I need a breathing space in a crowded neighborhood, a buffer against dust and pollution, a shield against an afternoon glare. I have promised my young trees that both will live to an old age and no architect's plan will disturb it.
Yes, God appreciates those who care for a tree. Tree is life and sweetens the mother of all life – water.
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