By NING DIMAANO
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — About a thousand volunteers from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), business locators and stakeholder groups in this free port planted some 5,000 trees during the Arbor Day celebration here.
SBMA administrator Wilma Eisma said the volunteers braved the long walk to the planting site in the foothills of Barangay Bangal in Dinalupihan, Bataan, which is still part of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
“My heart swells with pride to see people here very early in the morning—sweaty, hands soiled and shoes muddy while planting, and not complaining at all,” Eisma said. “It’s such a beautiful sight! No food and shirts for free, yet they’re still here.”
The tree-planting project was attended by representatives from Subic-registered companies like Jollibee, Ocean Adventure, Petron, Koryo, SubicWater, Jobin, IDESS, RP Energy, Crown Peak, Toyota, Koushin, Mega Subic, Aura College, as well as the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce.
The government sector was also represented in the activity by the PNP-Special Action Forces, Olongapo City Council, Barangay Gordon Heights, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (DENR-CENRO) Olongapo City, and the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Community groups like the Philippine Association of Certified Public Accountants were also present.
According to Patrick Escusa, chief of the Social Development Division of the SBMA Ecology Center that spearheaded the activity, the volunteers planted around 5,000 seedlings in a graded 2.2-hectare land in the middle of a forested area in Bangal.
The seedlings, mostly narra and some fruit-bearing species, were from DENR-CENRO, the SBMA nursery, and some stakeholders.
This was the third tree-planting activity held as part of the Arbor Day celebration here, which is part of the agency’s environmental preservation and conservation advocacy program under Republic Act 10716, the law that revived the observance of Arbor Day in 2012 and authorized government units to observe the annual event with tree-planting activities.
Arbor Day is observed every June 25, but the SBMA held it two days earlier to enjoin more employees and other stakeholders to join the activity.
“I’m very happy that this is happening today—that we are helping in taking care of the environment,” Eisma also said on Friday, as the volunteers completed the project by mid-day.
“I hope this happens every day with similar gestures—by picking up the plastic that we throw, by making sure we conserve on water. Any little thing we could do to save the environment will help,” Eisma added.