Yes, I’m writing about the trees

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Sunday, August 10, 2014


A “CHAINSAW massacre” has been averted in the south, thanks to the timely intervention of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Not only has it revoked the tree-cutting permit covering the remaining three diseased trees along the national highway in the City of Naga, but the DENR 7 also revealed that future applications for cutting permit for trees along the national highway from the City of Naga to Carcar City will not be granted.

In effect, the DENR 7 has prevented (dramatic pause) an ARBOREAL HOLOCAUST!

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Hmm. Too much? Maybe I should take out the exclamation mark. Or how about if I call it, “dendroidal genocide”? Nah?

The move has spared the public from the grizzly scene of mutilated logs lying by the side of the road, of hollowed-out trunks that speak of unbridled rape and carnage. Innocents won’t have to bear witness to the barbaric hacking of hapless branches, as these are tossed, unceremoniously, to form a tangled heap.

Anyhoot, I’m sure it’s not as melodramatic as Fr. Robert Reyes finding a new pulpit in a newly trimmed acacia bough, where he rained spittle on media members and curious onlookers, promising eternal damnation to those who would lay even a finger on any one of God’s beloved creatures.

“Gaba, gaba sa ‘yo Governor Davide, mayor of Naga, of San Fernando, of Carcar, gaba. P-Noy, gaba!,” the priest said. (I know this quote didn’t see print, but our resident gourmet reporter has it on record.)

The erstwhile running priest (he’s now a climber) even quoted Mahatma Gandhi in his diatribe against the senseless murder of the century-old symbols of the nostalgic south: “The way we treat our forest is a reflection on how we treat others and ourselves.”

Oh shucks!

“It’s nice that government listened,” said Louella Alix, co-convenor of the Movement for a Livable Cebu. Lawyer Rose Liza Osorio of the Philippine Earth Justice Center said they plan to invite Dr. Roger de Guzman, a tree pathologist from the University of the Philippines Los Baños to conduct the third-party assessment of the trees.

That is nice. And while they’re at it, maybe they should call in a tree psychologist or a tree whisperer. Have a one-on-one with the trees. Ask how the trees are doing. Engage them. What do they think of Mommy D’s much younger paramour? Should PNoy be allowed a second term? That kind of thing.

Tree lovers and lobbyists are heaving a sigh of relief, giving themselves a pat in the back for a victorious campaign. A one-small-step-for-tree, a-giant-leap-for-treekind kind of a moment.

Meanwhile, commuters from the south are scratching their heads. What about them? What happens if one of the spared diseased trees falls on the bus, on the car, on the motorcycle they’re in? And the residents who live under the shade of the trees’ canopies, what of their houses, their sari-sari stores, their makeshift videoke joints?

Local government officials in Naga and San Fernando, too, are not happy with the development.

City of Naga Mayor Valdemar Chiong said “he will put up signs on the three remaining trees in Barangays Inoburan and Langtad to warn the public that although the trees have been found diseased, the DENR did not allow their removal.”

As for Gov. Hilario Davide III, here’s his take on the matter: “Kung naa’y matumba nga kahoy, ampo nalang ta nga walay matumbahan (If a tree falls, let’s pray no one will get hurt).” And then the governor reportedly laughed.

I’m not sure if it was nervous laughter or embarrassed one, either way I thought it was a maniacal response to a situation simply gone absurd.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 10, 2014.

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