1,226 couples in Baguio plant trees before tying knots

BAGUIO CITY — A total of 1,226 couples who applied for a marriage license in the city in 2017 have each planted a tree seedling as part of their contribution to the protection and preservation of the environment.

The tree planting is a requirement under City Ordinance 18-2016 or the City Environment Code, which mandates planting of at least one tree as a pre-requisite before the issuance of a marriage license.

Beatriz Gajete, forestry division chief of the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO), said on Monday the office has identified the Pine Trees of the World located at the Burnham Park reservation area as the plantation site for couples seeking marriage licenses.

She added that based on their assessment, 85.6 percent of those planted by the couples have survived and are still alive.

Gajete said the city started to implement the requirement in October 2016, upon the passage of the city’s Environment Code.

She said the provision was added in the ordinance to make residents get used to the idea that the tree is part and parcel of their lives as human beings.

“For the couple to think that the tree is important and for their children also. For them to pass it on to their children,” Gajete explained.

Scientifically, she noted, people exist and live using oxygen, which is coming from plants and trees. “When people marry, the tendency is for them to reproduce offspring, adding to the population who breathe, thus (they) should have the responsibility to produce oxygen for their children,” she said.

Gajete added people survive without food, but nobody can live without air, without oxygen. “Take note that there are many victims of earthquake trapped and they survived by drinking their urine but without oxygen, they could not have survived. Even if we don’t eat for weeks, we could still survive. But try to hold your breath for minutes, and we will die,” she pointed out. “We have to tell people that oxygen must (be available). Let us not wait for the time when oxygen is sold in bottles.”

Aside from encouraging them to plant trees before they start their family life, Gajete said the public also has the obligation to help keep the air they breathe clean by planting a tree in their homes.

Arbor Day has been institutionalized through Proclamation 643 to be observed every June 25 throughout the country by planting trees and ornamental plants to promote a healthier ecosystem.

For this year, Gajete explained that the city would not only plant 10 seedlings per employee, which is a dictate of the government’s National Greening Program (NGP). “(We will also see) to it that these seedlings we have planted will survive,” she said.

The city employees, she further disclosed, would do a clearing of the identified watersheds and NGP areas in Baguio -South Drive, Camp 7, Sto. Tomas, Botanical Area, Busol Watershed, Camp 8, and Buyog watershed – to check on those that did not survive and then, replant.

Records show, out of the total number of tree seedlings planted, there is an 81.5 percent average survival rate.

According to CEPMO, 96 organizations conducted tree planting activities, with 13,230 assorted seedlings planted.

Gajete said the city maintains two nurseries — the Botanical Garden and a part of the Busol Watershed — for tree planting activities of the city government, non-government organizations, schools, and barangays.

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