Tibaldo: Baguio eco parks

Consumers atbp.

AFTER the 1990 killer earthquake, our media group have been trekking the Busol Watershed on a regular basis as we found a sense of responsibility when we commit ourselves and others to plant and care for trees in a forested patch of land within the boundary of Baguio City and La Trinidad, Benguet.

Since 1992, the Busol has served as our activity area and we have built a shaded structure out of un-utilized bunkhouses of Benguet Corporation.

An environmental program called "Eco-Walk," meant as a value-formation and environmental program for children, was launched led by our late elder Ramon Dacawi and it later involved the whole city becoming a model that was replicated by DILG.

The Eco-Walk program was also recognized by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) with a Global 500 Award given in Shenshen, China in 2002. Today, the program continues and I consider the Busol in my list as the best example of an eco-park.

The Buyog Watershed that appears to be a tree covered strip within the Pinget and Pinsao area as seen from Bokawkan Road is one of the protected areas by the Baguio Regreening Movement and Baguio Water District.

I brought my Baguio Colleges Foundation Mass Communication class for a pictorial at said place when the trees planted were mostly about waist high. In 2008, I again led a smaller group of environment conscious social media users and we called our event EBOTOAH or eyeball on top of a hill.

We planted about a dozen pine saplings in an area designated by BWD and I again revisited the place with my grandson Juaquin Iñigo when he turned three years old as I simply I wanted him to see a mini forest.

The controversial lot allegedly bought by SM Holdings beside the Baguio Convention Center is being called "Tree Park" by media for easier reference.

My group, the Baguio Arts Guild used part of it as an activity area where other talents including foreigners used it for their art installations. That part of the Baguio Convention Center became an event place for two international art festivals.

This DENR Regional Office in Pacdal has a well-functioning nursery where we get tree seedlings whenever we have tree planting activities.

It has seedbeds for different types of trees including coffee, gmelina, bamboo and pine. This office has a sort of information library called Regional Ecology Center that links up with LGUs, line agencies and even the academe on matters concerning the continued advocacy and protection of the environment.

Another facility that DENR has is the Ecosystems Research and Development Service Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ERDS-DENR) located in Loakan opposite the Voice of America entrance of Camp John Hay is where the Philippine Bambusetum is found.

It has a wide specie collection of different types of Bamboos gathered by DENR from all over the world. I knew this because Fatima Tangan, then in charge of the bambusetum asked me to help ERDS produce an AVP about their scholarly studies, bamboo propagations and how DENR promote the production and planting of bamboos not only for slope protection but for livelihood as well.

There is an interesting place along Santo Tomas Road that offers a site for mini-eco-adventure that can be had for about 30 to about an hour of trekking, bridge crossing and even cave exploring.

Well, this one is man-made and I know a person who contributed his time and energy in making the place artsy and educational but also conducive for meditation and relaxation.

The Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary is a former secondary education facility that has transformed into an institution that does not only provides an experiential learning but it also shows how great our world is through its ecological sanctuary.

It is also one site where a Peace pole is located and its ecological garden is actually a maze of sorts as it brings you to a kind of art-world where you can relate with nature. The peace pole in front of the Maryknoll office is one among the thousands of symbolic white poles meant to heal the earth like acupuncture.

For those interested to check the place, I suggest you use sneakers and not high heeled shoes. I mentioned the peace pole in relation to the totem pole because to me, it is a form of ancient communication or medium to send out a message.

It either welcome you or suggest that you can proceed or it warns and gives you a sign that you are not welcome. If totems show fierce looking figures, it may mean that one should be careful and not intrude.

Usually, totems are embedded with symbols, faces with gestures and even animal figures like eagle, owl or even horned beings. The one at Camp John Hay shows images of notable Americans and pioneering headmasters.

I learned that the Bell House totem pole was carved by Ernesto Dul-ang, a once employed artisan of CJH whom we refer to as Manong Ernie.

Mang Ernie by-the-way bagged the Gold Medal in Korea when we competed in the III Delphic Games Jeju. The Tree-Top adventure near the American pole is also an eco-park but this one only hurts ones pocket.

The consortium that won the bidding to manage CJH promised to include a Cordillera Village type of theme park but none so far became a reality other than the butterfly sanctuary, a paint ball shooting course and said tree-top adventure.


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