Philippine Asian News Today Vol 20 No 5 - Page 13

March 1 - 15, 2018 BUSINESS NEWS PHILIPPINE ASIAN NEWS TODAY Bulong Pulungan By Deedee Siytangco Reprinted from Manila Bulletin ANGEL THOUGHTS  “The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago. The second best time is now.” —Chinese proverb. ******* In the early 1900s massive reforestation efforts by government were done in the 26,000 hectare  Upper Marikina Watershed as it was recognized as vital  in the mitigation of massive floods. The area used to be densely forested by in the 1970s to the 1980s, widespread illegal logging all but left the watershed a nearly barren wasteland. Alarmed by this, a privately- sponsored pioneering reforestation project in the Upper Marikina Watershed was launched, with Mount Purro identified as the primary site. In a few years, 700,000 trees were successfully planted and dutifully maintained. But because of the reality of surviving in the mountains, and no alternative forms of livelihood, majority of these trees fell to small- scale illegal logging, kaingin farming, and charcoal-making. This led to the painful conclusion that in order to take care of the forest, you first and foremost have to take care of the Environmental Heroes; Toto Malvar And His Brood small way. Toto is an Atenean who lives the Jesuit way, “A man for others.” He cut his teeth in developmental work by immersing himself in community-based projects after college and teaching in his school. He found a soul mate in Maryknoller Azucena “Baby” San Gabriel who also was in community social work in college. Eventually they married and produced seven like-minded children- Nina, with BDO, Toby Termulo based now in Texas but was active in the family advocacy, Kit Llamas, trainor, Kat Rodrigo, chef in New York City who was with the family advocacy too, lawyer Tojun, Toton, formerly a banker now with the family concern and TJ, a medical doctor full time with the farm. Truly, Toto’s fruits did not fall too far from him. As a backgrounder, in 1960, way before Ondoy and Yolanda, Typhoon Lucille caused massive flooding and devastation in Metro Manila, unlike anything the Philippines had experienced before: 234 dead and thousands left homeless. During that time, a mother, fearful of her country’s vulnerability to natural disasters, PAGCOR donates to the Manila cops. people. This is what the family of Toto and Baby Malvar did. Bring back the forest to the mountain. What started out as a family’s simple yet heartfelt advocacy of promoting love for the environment, community building, and family togetherness, is now a full- fledged mission that seeks to inspire others to join in on the cause. And this is how Mount Purro Nature Reserve was born. It is all about the evolving journey of saving the Upper Marikina watershed and empowering the upland communities living within, particularly the Dumagats, through sustainable travel. And yes, making sure Metro Manila does not get inundated with massive floods because of no one is safeguarding the watershed. The essence of Mount Purro Nature Reserve lies in its authenticity uniqueness. One hundred percent of what you see and experience is pure and organic, and there lies the magic of it all. The story of Mount Purro Nature Reserve is actually the story of Toto and Baby, and their 27 years (and counting!) of living at the heart of the Upper Marikina Watershed, creatively, purposefully, and tirelessly trying to make a difference in their beloved Calawis community, in their own 13 whispered in her son’s ears to plant trees in the balding mountains of the Sierra Madre mountain range. Little did that boy know that the seeds planted in his head by his mother would eventually bear fruit and drastically change his life. Fast forward to 30 years later, that boy, already a well-established family man with seven children, suddenly had an intense, burning, desire to plant trees in the mountains. Inspired by his mother and grandfather General Miguel Malvar, an environmentalist by heart, he made the courageous decision to leave the corporate world and sell his lucrative business, in a mission to do environmental and reforestation work. At that time, he was also very much enraptured by the spirit of EDSA—amazed at how the Filipinos, through People Power, was able to peacefully oust a dictator and restore democracy. An idealist and a visionary, he wanted to harness that same People Power and use it to bring back the glory of the forest. Incidentally,