Haribon visits Buhay Punlaan

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Eight hours in front of the computer, paperworks, report writing and meetings these things characteristically happen in the Haribon office every single working day . . . except on July 5.

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 The Haribon

The Haribon staff during their much-anticipated trip to Buhay Punlaan

Amidst the rainy start, 30 excited Haribon staff travelled early to our workplace for the day: the Haribon Buhay Punlaan in Lumban, Laguna. It was that one day of the year that we dedicate to our own nursery with no reports and presentations to worry about. Just a solid encounter with nature!

Helping accelerate forest restoration
Now on its third year, this annual site visit is designed to give Haribon employees, especially the new ones, an actual and first-hand site experience to better understand our ROAD to 2020 campaign, rainforestation advocacy. This is also our way of helping the Buhay Punlaan accomplish its tasks as it is obviously short of manpower. With laughter all around and extra 30 pairs of hands to boot, what will normally be done in one week was finished in about five hours.

Maintenance in the nursery area and re-bagging some of the seedlings

Maintenance in the nursery area and re-bagging some of the seedlings

Our resident foresters, Miel Loria and Razel Ripalda, started the activity with a short orientation about the ROAD to 2020 movement and related advocacies. We were also told about the step-by-step operations in the nursery. Through this we realize that the more popular activity of tree planting is but one easy step in the laborious process of restoring our rainforests. This led our graphic artist, Albert, to say “We need to help accelerate forest restoration.”

Learning through experience
What better way to learn about our advocacies than to actually do them first hand? After all, they say experience is the best teacher. Separated into three groups, each went through three stations representing the different nursery activities.

Guided by our experienced foresters and nursery staff, we went through: maintenance in the nursery area where we were asked to re-bag some of the seedlings; maintenance in the restoration area where we were asked to do ring weeding and to liberate the plants from the vines that suffocated them (and yes, this has to be done to each of the planted seedlings in the area); and wilding collection and transplanting where we planted the newly-collected wildings into the seedling bags. With our physical strength and energy further challenged by the heat of the sun and the bites of those huge ants, one cannot help but say “Mahirap but rewarding and masarap [It’s difficult but rewarding and feels good].”

Synergy at work
A bit refreshed from the lunch break, the Haribon staff faced the challenge of preparing seedling bags—known as potting or bagging. Who would have thought that this seemingly menial task of putting soil into each seedling bag, packing and compressing it and putting the finished bags into neat piles would be therapeutic after all?

Well when clear division of labor is coupled with hardwork and funny jokes, it’s no wonder this was just a breeze! After only an hour of work, we were able to prepare 1,144 seedling bags which will soon to be home to freshly collected wildings.

Forester Raz Ripalda trimming the root of a wildling collected

Forester Raz Ripalda trimming the root of a wildling collected

After going through the different stages of nursery production—from collecting the wildings, transplanting, watering, planting and then the arduous task of maintaining them, this annual trip never fails to bring out one recurring and heart-melting realization from the employees: “Ang dali daling sirain ng gubat pero ang laki ng effort para ibalik ito [It is so easy to destroy our forests yet it takes a lot of effort to bring it back].”

Similarly, one of the staff said, “Di pantay ang efforts sa pagsira at pag-restore. Hindi balanse [The effort in destroying and restoring our forest is not equal. It’s not balanced].”

More than the 150 trees we maintained, 1,800 wildings we have transplanted and 1,144 bags we have prepared that day, hearing these thoughts from our staff makes trips like this worth doing. It proves that the best way to internalize our advocacies is through real life experience which also gives the employees more and more opportunities to give back to our environment.

As our research assistant, Marlet, said, the experience was “ . . . fulfilling kahit di mo agad makikita ang results [It’s fulfilling even you cannot see the results at once]. It is something worth doing knowing you did something for the environment.”

Indeed, I’m sure one will not say that this is just another ordinary field trip.

The writer is the OIC-Supervisor of the Human Resources Unit of Haribon Foundation.

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