15 years ago, my father started his early retirement by planting trees such as mahogany, eucalyptus, white teak and mango trees in a piece of land he bought intended only for his tree planting project. At that time, he said, “15 years from now, the realities of climate change will bring themselves to bear on every surface of our country. As early as today, we should learn to adapt to that change. 15 years from now these trees will help us adapt to that change”.
My mother was in disagreement with my father’s actions. First, she said that it’s a waste of money. Second, she said, they might not be even alive anymore to see the fruit of their labor as trees need long time to grow. Even the neighboring landowners were not in agreement with what they see. They worry that their lands will become unproductive when the trees grow taller and the roots become longer. I was young then but I thought it was very charming of my father to dedicate much of his retirement fund to tree planting. To me, he was a hero trying to save the world.
15 years forward, my mother was right. We haven’t figured out if we would ever get back some of my father’s investments as he wouldn’t let us cut some of the trees. To a simple family like us, with not much money sitting in the bank, the land where my father planted trees could have given us more in short term. Our neighbors could also be right that the roots have now elongated and extended to their lands making it less productive than it used to be. But if there is something I am sure of, my father was right too. The trees kept the area cold and misty. The trees have attracted different types of birds. The mangoes started bearing fruits which are enjoyed mostly by passing kids. My grandmother refused to leave the farm till her last breath because the farm air made her feel alive. And since a single tree can absorb CO2 at a rate of 48 lb. per year, I reckon the thousand trees that my father have are absorbing over 21 tons of CO2 every year. Now that I am older, I now understand better than before. As a matter of fact, I remember that my father’s project in our barrio has inspired the barangay captain during that time. He has initiated tree planting along the roads in our barrio.
However, I can’t deny the fact that it takes years to grow a tree and ensure that a passing typhoon won’t tear it down overnight. Are there any other ways we could do to control climate change in a bigger and wider scale? After the super typhoon Haiyan brought havoc to our country and caused the lives of almost 10,000 Filipinos, our government must have learnt a lot. Are our laws now sterner in persecuting illegal activities like illegal logging? After 6 years of becoming a law, what Climate Change Act has done so far; an act that is supposed to mainstream climate change initiatives into the government policy formulations? Based on World Bank’s study called the Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review or CPEIR, climate change significantly poses a threat to our survival. If not addressed properly, it could submerge not just our coastal communities but also the big urban communities such as Manila. I do not want to believe that we haven’t learned enough even after years of fighting the effects of climate change in our country.