Arceo: Greening up!

The Adopt-A-Watershed Reforestation Program (AWRP) under the Angeles Watershed Rehabilitation Initiatives (AWRI), a wider and bigger joint advocacy project of the Angeles City LGU and the Abacan River and Angeles Advocacy Council, Inc. (ARAW-ACI), is fast gaining support from the private sector groups in Pampanga.

Just recently, Porac Bank has signed up to adopt a one-hectare planting site inside the 527-hectare Angeles watershed in Barangay Sapangbato, Angeles City. A memorandum of agreement was signed between ARAW-ACI, Porac Bank and the Aeta community group KAAPKA which stands for Kapatirang Aetas ng Angeles-Porac para sa Kalikasan at Agrikultura.

The tripartite agreement is purely an agreement between the private sector parties involved. The Angeles City LGU on the other hand provides substantial support to the program by giving food subsidy allowances to KAAPKA members. There are 22 Aeta family heads who are receiving about P3,000-P7,000 monthly allowance from the Angeles City government. Being a co-signatory on the AWRP MOA, it is the responsibility of the Aeta community to take care of the plants inside the watershed. Some of the tasks include cleaning, brushing, mulching and applying fertilizers, and watering during summer or dry season.

AWRP has a livelihood component that benefits the Aeta community. All the harvests from fruit-bearing trees planted inside the watershed through the support of the AWRP sponsors will be turned-over to the gamekeepers. This scheme guarantees a shared-responsibility and shared-benefit between the AWRP sponsor and the KAAPKA.

On top of the financial support to the Aeta gamekeepers, the Angeles City LGU also provides logistical support like payloaders and trucks needed for transporting seedlings, opening or clearing dirt roads leading to the planting sites. The City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) also distributes seedlings to private partners while the Sangguniang Panlungsod ensures that the necessary legislations are in place to protect the Angeles watershed.

And while the city government is busy doing its responsibilities, the ARAW-ACI is in full-speed doing a roadshow, presenting the AWRP to different private sector groups, educational institutions, and non-government organizations in Angeles City and Pampanga.

To date, there are already three companies and organizations that officially adopted planting sites inside the watershed. These are the Converge ICT Solutions, Inc. (Converge), Pampanga Press Club Foundation Inc. (PPCFI) and the Porac Bank. Following them soon are the de La Salle Alumni Association of Pampanga, Jocson College, Rotary Club Angeles Kuliat, Edithat Arceo and Family, and the Balibago Waterworks System, Inc. (BWSI).

Converge, the prime-mover in fiber optics in the country, was the first to heed ARAW-ACI’s call to adopt a planting site inside the watershed. The company, which is very aggressive in realizing the United Nations goals for environmental protection and advocacy against poverty, adopted two hectares and planted 2,880 forest and fruit bearing trees in the area.

The partnership between ARAW-ACI and the Angeles City LGU is gradually becoming a model to other LGUs in Pampanga. CENRO OIC Archie Lazatin says he has been invited several times by the Pampanga provincial environment office to conduct talks regarding AWRP. On the part of the private sector, ARAW-ACI has received numerous invitations from schools and companies like Proverbsville School, Holy Family Alumni groups, Rotary Club of Angeles, Systems Plus College, and Livingstone School.

A true partnership in which both the parties show sincerity and political will to reforest the Angeles watershed. Angeles City, along with Mabalacat and the City of San Fernando, are actually running out of time to recharge their depleting groundwater table.So the residents better act fast and join the green revolution. In studies conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 1987 and in 2011, it was stated that these cities are on the list of urban areas with red alert on water security by 2025. This projection was based on the actual water table when the study was done, in relation to the population growth, economic and business activities and the projected rate of development, especially within the Metro Clark area where the Clark International Airport and the Clark Freeport Zone are located.


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