November 27, 2022

One of the blessings of the Covid 19 pandemic is probably how all the plants and trees hereabouts were given a chance to just grow. It was perhaps of good fortune that on Jan. 11, 2020, the Baguio Water District allowed the Luisa’s Café Darts Club and the Ecotherm Water Heater Co. to plant some 200 varied trees at the Camp 8 watershed along Kennon Road. \

Today, there is almost a forest.

LCDC president, Charles Daoey and Ecotherm branch partner Norway Lara, agreed to begin a socio-civic project at the Camp 8 watershed. The owls of LCDC decided to grow outside of darts to do some community activity and likewise, the heater company personnel engage in an endeavor for the city. In 2019, the tree-planting was the project that the groups agreed to contribute to the improvement of the city.

The LCDC draws darters from different companies in the city and among the closest allies are the BWD personnel and the police. The site that was identified by the insiders was the one along Kennon Road because the road widening project caused much of the debris to be dumped on the side. That was the  perfect site that needed some hands to plant some cuttings and saplings.  The permission was the next step, and the appointed day was in January, after the December rains.

We were briefed by Mr. Paatan and Selvino on the handling of the bagged saplings before we actually spread out. There were fewer pine trees because those were sensitive to touch and planting. Some 30 people met at the roadside and spread out to cover more than 10,000 square meters of the area. At the time there was sparse vegetation at the site and evident  patches of sweet potato plantations, banana, and taro. We were also met by mosquitos and a tiny snake.

The 200 pieces of 10 inches of pine, calliandra, and alnus saplings were spread around the sides and rocky slopes which we were told to keep a meter apart. There were those among us who liked to venture into the dense spots and most who stayed in the perimeter. But at that time, we stood taller than the vegetation that thrived. It was just the bananas that were taller and the native guava tree.

When we returned on Aug. 28, 2022, we were surprised to see the former two-foot cuttings that were planted at the former opening in the area were taller than us and covered with shrubs and vines. At this time, we were just to clear the grass, vines, and weeds from the base of the thriving alnus and calliandra  trees. 

These cleared plants were merely gathered in mounds to keep the moisture of the ground, especially for the coming dry season and allow these to nourish the soil when they decompose. We hardly covered 100 feet of tugging and plucking before lunch to have enough space to grill our food and some ground space to spread our meal and a comfortable space to sit and eat.

The open space that we had before was no more, we had a shady portion to enjoy our sumptuous meal, mostly courtesy of Lara.

We hardly covered the whole area that we easily traversed up till the lower portion of the slope in 2020. A decision to do a second run was planned and Oct. 23 was earmarked.

After two months and two typhoons, we returned, and discovered that the growth of the weeds and grass returned to the parts that we cleaned the other month. The progress that we made could have been another two meters forward. At this point, we were thinking of adopting the watershed and setting some benches or stools  made from the stump of the felled alnus tree for the next time we return, so we could comfortably enjoy eating the grilled fish and pork, shrimps, mongo, and tahong.

It is a nice feeling to see the forest grow in some parts of the city and be part of it. To see them outgrow you is a wonderful feeling. To be part of groups with the similar desire to make Baguio better and to ensure the water supply for communities is reassuring.

The best part comes with the appreciation that comes from the BWD general manager, Engr. Salvador Royeca, for the contribution in nurturing the watershed.