WHAT does Agnes Locsin do when she is not dancing?
According to her, “Life is Dance.” But there will always be more to life than one's vocation. And for Agnes, this is all about trees.
Agnes confesses that she likes doing dance productions because there’s always an end to each production. Conceptualization, research or mind-brewing, classes, rehearsals, performance… then it’s done. Break time until the next production.
In between productions? “I plant trees,” she says.
Agnes developed an obsession for trees when she came home to Davao City in 1999. She worked in Manila from 1985 to 1999.
She started as a dance teacher with several dance institutions in Metro Manila. Then she worked as a choreographer and later became artistic director of Ballet Philippines, the resident dance company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
She confesses to have burnt out as a choreographer and home beckoned.
In 1999, she decided to come home to teach ballet in Davao, where her roots are, at her mother’s dance studio, the Locsin Dance Workshop, founded by Carmen Locsin in 1947.
Coming home also meant taking care of her aging mother. This included tagging along to the farm where Carmen D. Locsin (1926-2011) had fruit trees planted sporadically in the area. It was then that Agnes realized she loved plants. She, too, started planting trees. She planted narra, mahogany, lychee, and acacia trees where she could.
Watching them grow gave her so much satisfaction that she decided she wanted to build a forest. Not just any forest. She wanted to build a forest of hard wood trees. Thus her search for hard wood seedlings began. This was in the year 2000. So much was her obsession with trees that even her dance creations were inspired by trees, producing dances in a series called Alay Sa Puno: Ugat, Dahon, Puno, Sanga, Bulak, and Bunga.
Today, she proudly states that she has planted the following hard wood seedlings in the Dakudao-Locsin family property in Tugbok: dao, toog, lipote, molave, tugas, tiga, mayapis, yakal, bahai-bahai, red and white lauaan, sampaloc, gakakan, kamagong, Iloilo, siar,chico, malabayabas, and mangkono, as well as durian, rambutan, macopa, mangosteen and manga trees. Some are little trees now while others are still saplings.
Agnes soon realized that hard wood trees take a really long while to grow. Thus, she started planting fast-growing flowering trees like the caballero, banaba, and golden shower to bide her time while waiting for the slow-growing hard wood trees to reach maturity.
Waiting at the shade for the rainy season are seedlings of aguho, mabolo, balitbitan, mangasinoro, and almon.
Dancers who perform at the Locsin Dance Workshop productions have joined her in her mission of building a forest.
Dancers from Manila, Hong Kong, Germany, France, United States of America, and Canada, as well as students and friends of Agnes, have planted their share of trees in the Locsin farm in Tugbok.
Agnes’ forest is something to look forward to. It may take a while but once matured, the forest will surely be a place to visit for Dabawenyos and guests.
It’s amusing to hear Agnes enumerate the names of the trees, as well as the names of the people who planted them. She admits to not knowing the names of some plants but her extraordinary love for all plants is plain to see.
Keep it up, Agnes. We all look forward to seeing the fulfillment of your dream of having a sanctuary for trees in Davao City.