LOCKED in a legal battle with the Quezon City government, the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation Inc. (MSBFI) said that it continuously supports the national greening program (NGP) of President Aquino through the breeding of native and indigenous forest tree species.
MSBFI President Leonardo Ligeralde said the seven-hectare property at the corner of EDSA and Quezon Avenue remains the only green spot from the stretch of Monumento in Caloocan City and Baclaran in Pasay City where services like seedling production, reforestation, agroforestry, tree farming, composting, charcoal making and tree maintenance are provided.
Tree maintenance includes pruning, tree removal, stump removal, earth balling, transplanting and tree surgery.
Noted environmentalist Dr. Isidro Esteban is the MSBFI forestry consultant and tree doctor.
As the MSBFI celebrates its 36th year on September 1, Ligeralde said the seedling bank has expanded its services to consultancy, research services and extension to first class environmental center.
He noted that particularly in the field of research the foundation had assisted students from noted universities like the Ateneo De Manila University, University of Santo Tomas and the University of the Philippines.
The assistance provided by MSBFI is not confined only in the metropolis as it has forged a venture with the Ateneo De Manila, Loyola School Office of the Social Concerns and Involvement in implementing reforestation and backyard gardening in Zambales by providing at reasonable costs vegetable seed, fruit bearing and forest trees.
In support of the president’s NGP, Ligeralde said that the MSBFI in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to plant 5,750 seedlings of forest tree species like ilang-ilang, banaba and Palawan cherry in a 35-hectare area at the Pangasinan State University in Infanta, Pangasinan.
The MSBFI has also launched the “Gulayan sa Barangay” project where the MSBFI will provide the Quezon City’s 142 barangays with ten different vegetable seeds like ampalaya, pechay, tomato, mustard, kangkong, squash, okra, peppers, eggplant and string beans.
Ligeralde said that 87 of the city’s barangays had responded positively to the project as they will also be provided with a CD and brochure on urban gardening.
In the early 1980’s Ligeralde noted that MSBFI has planted 14 million “nurse-tree seedlings” like ipil-ipil and acacia and nine million climax trees like narra, mahogany, molave and bagras.
The seedling bank foundation has reforested more than 5,000 hectares of open and non-productive areas in the Marikina Watershed and Bataan while 11,000 hectares were provided plantation development with the MWSS, Napocor and Meralco in the provinces of Rizal and Bataan.
Ligeraldo added that the MSNFI through agroforestry and tree farming has created forests in the private lands of Batangas, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Bulacan through mango plantation.
Inside the MSBFI, compost with the mixture of chicken manure, sawdust, garden soil, chipped branches, dried leaves and a special kind of bacteria is sold to the patrons at P40 per five kilos.
“There is no waste in the MSBFI. We make compost for our clients at reasonable price. I am inviting the public to visit the place where you can relax and enjoy nature tripping,” Ligeralde said.
He said that a recent study said that the University of the Philippines (UP) campus in Diliman and the MSBFI are the coolest places in the metropolis during summer months.
During the rainy season, Ligeralde said the vast MSBFI acts like a sponge as the estimated 90 percent of the compound’s land area absorbs the floodwater from the heavy downpour.
Ligeralde said that that the MSBFI has the right to occupy the property until 2027.
Earlier, the MSBFI scored the “Gestapo-like” takeover of the seven-hectare property by the Quezon City government as Ligeralde maintained that the National Housing Authority (NHA) should be held liable for the non-payment of the real property tax (RPT) worth P57.2008 million.
On the other hand, Chito Bertol MSBFI chairman of the board questioned the city hall’s haste in enforcing the takeover of the premises expressing shock reminiscent of the martial law years as a phalanx of police officers cordoned the periphery.
Before they can take over the property, Bertol said that the city government should first secure a court order adding that the MSBFI has structural rights as the lessee of the NHA property as provided under proclamation number 1670.