On September 27, 2014, at least eight Tribal Subanen communities from five municipalities in Zamboanga del Sur joined the Mindanao-wide one hour Tree Planting of 4.6 million trees in a quest to beat the record holder in India in the Guinness World Records for most trees planted simultaneously (multiple locations), where 1.9 million seedlings where planted in one hour.
The municipalities of Tigbao, Dumalinao, Pitogo, Kumalarang and Bayog participated in the tree planting, which covered an area of 205 hectares. Romeo Ansale, Forest Specialist of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in the province, said the target was to plant 102,500 seedlings in the assigned area.
The team of the Resource-Based Conflict and Peacebuilding Training Program of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Incorporated (MPI) was present to observe and document the process. Bayog and Kumalarang were participants in Phase One of the program from 2012-2013 and had scholars trained in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM), including climate change and using Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) for preparedness.
|Students from Barangay Boboan National High School lined up and registered to join tree planting in Barangay Conacon, Bayog Zamboanga del Sur|
Ansale said, Bayog planted 50 hectares with 25,000 rubber seedlings in cooperation with the municipal government and the Subanen Tribal Community in Barangay Conacon through the Pigsalabukan Gukom de Bayog Services Organization (PGBSO), a network of Subanen tribal organizations, in support of the Pigkumpongan Dlibon Subanen, Incorporated (PDSI), a women Subanen non-government organization.
Ansale went on to say, in Barangay Conacon alone 328 primarily Subanen Indigenous People coming from their ancestral domain, including high school students, participated in the planting that started simultaneously all over Mindanao, going from 8:30 to 9:30 in the morning.
|Timuay Basilio Promon, MPI Scholar, tribal leader and Barangay Captain in Barangay Deporehan, Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur|
Timuay Basillio Promon, an Ancestral Domain Claimant in Bayog and participant number one of these plantings, described the event as a big help to their ancestral domain in restoring the environment and even enhancing the livelihood sources of the tribe that will be from the rubber harvested from the trees.
At the same time, he called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Philippine government agency tasked to protect the environment, especially the forests, to do their job. Even without this kind of activity, the DENR should be protecting and reestablishing the forests in the hinterlands that are disappearing.
Tigbao town, Dumalinao, Pitogo and Kumalarang planted fifty-five hectares with 27,500 seedlings, while in Conacon, Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, participants planted 5,000 rubber seedlings over 10 hectares, CENRO Ansale said.
|Particpants walking to their respective assignment for tree planting|
“At the signal of the whistle, the planting started exactly at 8:30 and ended at 9:30 in the morning. The participants were given their respective numbers from one up to the total number of participants. There was one steward from the academe for every fifty participants, insuring they followed the guidelines,” Ansale explained.
He said, the result of planting rubber trees during the activity, in addition to providing a source of income for the tribal community, would be to restore the forest in particular and the environment in general.
The project to beat India’s Guinness World Record of planting 1.9 seedlings in one hour was initiated by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).
As a result of the DRRM workshop given by MPI’s Resource-Based Conflict and Peacebuilding Training team, the Subanen became aware of the fact that one of the exacerbating factors in some disasters is the disappearance of the rain forest. So, for several years, they already dreamed of planting more trees to replace those that were massively cut by commercial loggers in the past.
The Subanen were inspired to participate in the onehour tree planting with the goal of 5,000 seedlings not only because the Philippines would take the place of India in the Guinness World Records, but because it was also an opportunity for them to restore the forests in their ancestral domain.
Subanen children jumping for joy during the tree planting