Wednesday, August 24, 2011

NAPO TO BABAG TALES XLIII: The "Seeds for Earth Day" Tree Planting

IT IS A SPECIAL DAY on March 13, 2011. For the first time, my tree nursery maintained by the Roble family in Kahugan, Sapangdaku, Cebu City shall be planted. There will be some twenty-five healthy infant fruit trees inside their little black plastic cribs ready for transfer into the big wide field. To remember, some of these seedlings are part of the different fruits I brought here on April 25, 2010 during the Seeds for Earth Day.

I am going there on March 12 as an advance party to prepare for this activity. Ernie Salomon is with me. We start at 2:30 PM and reach the knoll at 5:00 PM. We prepared and cooked dinner and drink something hard afterward for it is cold. Ernie pitched a tent but I rather sleep outdoors. It didn't rain that night although it rained in the morning of that day and the days before that.

Rousing up on the early morning of March 13th, I boiled water for coffee. After that, I began to examine the seedlings, the bamboo stakes and the route to be planted with these young trees. With my heavy Bowie knife, I began to clear the ground from where these plants are to be planted. Fele Roble helped me with it while Ernie is busy cooking breakfast.

After the field clearing I get hold of an iron spike secured to a meter-long bamboo pole and begin making holes. I make fifteen holes when Ernie hailed me that breakfast is ready. I go down from the highest slope from where I made my last hole and ease myself into a vacant seat. Fried bitter gourds mixed with eggs and a stew of free-rein chicken were the viands. It is a solid breakfast.

People will be coming here today to be part of this activity. To give accent to this, I decide to do bushcraft cooking. Not by bamboo this time but by banana leaves. Fele provided me six leaves where I use all and roll it up into a tight bunch after placing milled corn in the middle. With a cord, I suspend the “leaf pot” under a low branch of a mango tree. I pour water at the top opening and make fire underneath it.

At about 10:30 in the morning, Rowel Seno of Pundok Lapukon came with one companion, James Cabajar. Fifteen minutes later, Randell Savior of Tribu Dumagsa arrive with fellow club member Tonton Bathan, Myke Padriga of the Circle of Friends and Green*Point, Boy Toledo of Camp Red and newbie Jerome Tan. A little later, from another route, Myand Abao and Rans Cabigas came towing one girl and three other guys from the EWIT Mountaineers.

Everyone helped himself with the young coconuts gathered by Fele and son Manwel and douse their thirst away and, in a wink of an eye, everybody switched to social mode exchanging banter and high fives raising this rare gathering of serious outdoor enthusiasts into a jocund fellowship of well-meaning individuals that give their precious time for Mother Earth. 

Moments like these make lasting impression and I take this opportunity to drive home the purpose of my own brand of tree planting. Where before, organizers would just hand you five to twenty young trees and leave it to your instant industry without you or them ever knowing whatever happened to your trees afterward. Mine would be the opposite.

The Chiricahua Apaches or any Native American peoples, for that matter, during times of emergency like war and migration, would protect every infant brave and nurse it to good health regardless if they are relation or not. It is not uncommon then that one Chiricahua mother would provide her own milk to a baby belonging to her sister, a distant cousin or a woman from another clan. By this principle, this tree planting activity would be pursued.

Our single tree shall then be planted with the help of two to five pairs of hand. They will treat each young plant as their baby brother or sister and they can give it a name for all they care. After carefully transplanting it, five bamboo stakes are then driven around it and screened with bamboo thorns called kaguingking for protection. The Native Americans also call each living thing or non-living thing as father, mother, uncle, brother and so forth.

A rare looking-glass tree1, commonly known as dongon, is one of the plants to be planted. Fele chose a special site where he personally planted this tree and put stakes and bamboo thorns around it. Randell, Tonton and Myke help one another in planting three trees; Rowel and James did likewise to another three young plants; while the EWIT people planted a single canistel2 seedling with an uncanny solemn feeling.

I chose to plant myself two canistel trees and two rambutan trees up on the farthest holes and sing a lullabye as if I'm stoking a baby to sleep. I do things from what I speak! Boy T and Jerome help each other plant a rambutan and a coconut while Ernie gets help from Fele in planting a cacao tree. All the plants are grown here and doesn't have to be carried over a far distance. Besides, all are well-acclimatized with the local weather.

After that, all Camp Red guys with help from Tribu Dumagsa prepare for lunch. Randell, Tonton and Boy T retrieved their cooksets, stoves, milled corn, raw, meat, vegetables and other ingredients and helped Ernie do the chopping and the slicing. Food to cook is a mixed-vegetable soup, pork adobao and raw cucumber dipped in vinegar.

Lunch is served at one in the afternoon. Meanwhile, my milled corn inside my “banana-leaf pot” came short of my expectations and looked like as if it is a cottage cheese made from goat's milk eliciting laughter from everyone! Oh, well, I remove the leaves except one and tied its ends and hang it in an earthen hearth inside the Roble home.

Myke, upon instruction from his father – Lester – turned over cash as donation for this event courtesy of the Circle of Friends. The Circle of Friends is a non-government organization dedicated to promote peace, human rights and the environment. I receive the money and pass it to Fele Roble as our whole-heart gratitude for his efforts.

After the meal, Rans and Myand and the rest of EWIT; as well as Rowel, Myke and James; decide to leave early leaving the hard cores to finish the two sets of mixed local rum and energy drink. In the middle of these pleasant conversations, I decide to pick up a dry and well-grained Mexican lilac root and carve it to a blueprint of a wood spoon in my mind. Boy T immediately lay claim to its ownership even before an outline has been started.

Manwel and his mother bring home four pieces of edible tree snail and offered these to us. It is cooked with edible oil and presented the meat to Boy T and Jerome, to include the milled corn cooked inside the banana leaf which I hung over a fire and it looked like rice cake. I now know how to cook milled corn in this technique and the snail meat tastes good. After the bottle run out its course, we ordered another two sets and Manwel oblige our request.

By five, we bade farewell to the Roble family and walk downhill to Sapangdaku River. From there, we walk over rolling terrain to Napo and ride motorcycles in tandem for Guadalupe. It is 7:00 PM and we are now at our favorite watering hole near Villa Fatima by the side of V. Rama Avenue. Tonton announced to the crowd that March 13 is his birthday and, boy, beer flowed like water that night until the wee hours.

Document done in OpenOffice 3.3 Writer
Collage done in MS Powerpoint 2007 converted to JPEG

1Heritiera litoralis Dryand. Tree species native of Negros Oriental. Also called the boat-fruited mangrove.
2Locall known as “tisa”, it is also called as a butter fruit tree.

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