LOOKING back at the reason for my involvement-in hatching and running some projects, I’m tempted to borrow Ayn Rand’s title, “The Virtue of Selfishness.”
For one, “Eco-walk” the ongoing environmental program for children at the Busol Watershed. The project evolved after Dr. Julie Cabato confirmed I was diabetic. The signs started coming in immediately after July 16, 1990 earthquake. I was and had become a sugar magnate without a hacienda.
“You need to exercise daily to burn sugar,” Dr. Cabato told me. Taking the queue, I thought of a program to force me to walk, exercise, and burn sugar on a daily basis. I contacted colleagues in the media and, together, we hatched “Eco-walk,” a simple program of bringing kids to trace the source of the water coming out of their home faucets to the Busol Watershed. There, the kids identify plants and trees, insects, drink water from the source and then plant a tree which they pledge to take care of as their own “family tree.”
As more children wanted to experience the program, volunteers from the “Timpuyog ti Iit” and I would hike daily to Busol, bringing children who are so excited to know where their water comes from and to add their own trees to the watershed.
The program evolved out of my need to burn my sugar through walking-up Busol with kids, delaying its eventual result that came 20 years after the project began. That was more than three years ago, when nephrologist, Dr. Josefina Luspian told me gently that diabetes had destroyed my kidneys and that I had to start undergoing blood-cleansing or dialysis four times a week to survive.
Beyond providing the opportunity for kids to trace their water source, the project evolved out of my need for self-preservation, to delay the eventual and most devastating result called total kidney failure.
Luckily, “Eco-walk” won for the city a “Galing-Pook” award as one of the country’s most effective and innovative local government programs.
The recognition prompted the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to step up my salary grade in city hall. The promotion was questioned by a department head who eventually had to recognize it after the CSC wrote her to respect the correct salary grade. In later years, she eventually exposed herself to international trainings on the environment and then advised me to come up with environmental projects for the city. Perhaps she did not know Eco-walk was on-going, without funding for 20 years by the time she made the advice.
The project evolved because barangay captains, who then called themselves “Timpuyog ti Iit,” helped us start the program. They built the lecture shed and guided kids for years in their forest exploration. Some were given modest allowances coming from a grant from the Canada International Development Agency that supported the program for years.
To them, especially their president, the late Punong barangay Manny Flores of Kabayanihan, were my eternal gratitude.
In the same vein, I am indebted to the various volunteers, including teachers, principals, and members of the police force, for supporting “Urban Heritage Walk,” a twin project of “Eco-walk” that provides the opportunity for kids to know Baguio history by a walk-through historical spots and know, among other things, why Session Rd., the city’s main street, is called such.
Children and even adults who would like to experience “Eco-walk” and/or “Urban Heritage Walk” may call up the public information division of the city mayor’s office (442-2502) or this writer (09167778103).
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