The famed Hinulugang Taktak in Antipolo City has undergone a sort of make over with the planting of 1,000 bamboo saplings on Earth Day, April 22.
With the US embassy and SM Cares of SM Supermalls as partners, the local government of Antipolo City spearheaded the planting of 1,000 bamboo saplings inside the sprawling compound as part of its continuing rehabilitation.
More than 200 people, composed of high school students, employees of the Rizal provincial government and US embassy personnel and their children took part in the early morning tree planting activity at the Hinulugang Taktak Protected Landscape (HTPL) in Sitio Sampaguita, Barangay de la Cruz.
Antipolo City Councilor Ronaldo Leyva, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US embassy Mr. Michael Klecheski, and SM Cares’ Program Director for Sustainability Liza Silerio attended the event and joined in planting the bamboo saplings.
In his speech, Klecheski said they have always supported environmental projects especially those that bring back the beauty of natural parks. He said the Earth Day celebrations have become a necessary tradition because of environmental degradation all over the world.
“We all have to deal with the problems of the environment and so for many years we have been celebrating Earth Day by doing something for the environment. We are glad there is so much activism and so much awareness on the environment especially among young people and we hope you continue this tradition,” he said.
Hinulugang Taktak was declared a National Park in 1990 and a Protected Landscape in 2000. But it suffered from years of environmental degradation because of illegal settlers along its tributaries.
Violete Faiyaz, head of the HTPL rehabilitation program, said the natural park has come a long way since 2010 when the restoration program started. She said the water has become cleaner since they have already relocated around 100 families living along the tributaries leading to the falls.
Faiyaz added that they have already reinforced the pathway leading to the viewing deck by putting trees and ornamental plants. Cleaners are assigned the whole day to sweep soap suds and garbage from the waterfalls.
“We are still a long way but with the help of the city and provincial governments and our donors, we will be able to regain the old beauty of Hinulugan Taktak,” Faiyaz said.
She added that they are already in talks with a water company to set up a water filtration plant near the falls so that the water that will flow will be clean.
Silerio, for her part, said SM Cares’ partnership with the Antipolo City government started last year when they also supported the greening of the park.
“This is a continuing partnership to restore Hinulugang Taktak to its old glory and we are happy that this year, we are joined by the US embassy which makes this event more meaningful,” she said.