Thinking trees/ARK

CTALK
Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) – November 20, 2020 – 12:00am

I think that I shall never see… a tree.

In case you’re old enough to remember you are probably wondering if I got it mixed up. By “it” I refer to the opening lines of the poem by Alfred Joyce Kilmer entitled “Trees.” The poem actually goes: “ I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree…” The poem is not about poems but actually celebrates and honors trees and their role in our lives. Sadly both poems and trees seem to have become unimportant and unappreciated by modern day society that relies on electronic entertainment and artificial trees and by-products.

Secretary William Dar recently spoke about a meeting with President Duterte where they talked about developing “food baskets” or farms in towns and provinces nearer to Metro Manila such as Rodriguez, San Mateo and perhaps even Tanay. The idea is to reduce the travel time for delivery of agricultural products, thereby increasing the freshness of produce and reducing the damage to produce resulting from extended travel. Indirectly it would result in a reduction of the environmental damage on our mountainous areas where we have traditionally bought fresh produce. In the same conversation they talked about reforestation and agro reforestation where the traditional farming method would include planting trees so that the farm lots will have wind breakers, retain water, reduction of direct sunlight, reduced water evaporation and fertilization through composting of leaves. In addition, farmers can regularly harvest wood or wood by-products.

Agro forestry is certainly much better that the open field farming or slash and burn method of farming because agro forestry also helps stabilize farmlands and reduces soil erosion. But I suggested to Secretary Dar that the government should impose a policy that would require the use of FRUIT BEARING TREES instead of the non-native fast growing trees that were promoted and institutionalized by Marcos cronies in the 70’s as they built up “tree farms.” Nothing wrong with tree farms except when people in power adopt a system meant for another purpose. Fruit bearing trees need to be planted in populated areas as well as agro-forest sites or farms because these will add to the earnings of farmers, will have a direct benefit to people, especially children, living in a community and will give an incentive to people to plant and protect trees. We have to put a stop to the “modern day” preference for fast growing designer trees that cost too much but give very little shade and no fruits whatsoever. Please! Plant a fruit tree for your children or grandchildren. Campaign for the return of fruit trees in every barangay in the country. We should not have to buy santol, mangga, Lanka, Kaia’s, atis, chico, duhat or kaimito, to name a few. Require these in open parking lots, schools, in every house that has space as well as for all reforestation programs. Fruits are part of the vital food chain. Why buy vitamins in plastic packaging when fruit trees produce them all!

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When our dear daughter Hannah tested positive for Covid-19, I used every available means to get friends and family to knock on Heaven’s door with prayers. It was the only thing we could do since she was in the other side of the world, all by herself. In a matter of a few days, I had hundreds of people on Facebook expressing their concern and saying prayers for her. In spite of that my wife and I could not bring down our stress level and worry. Out of the blue one of our pastor/friends from Singapore called to tell me that he had dreamt of me and in obedience to the Holy Spirit he decided to call and pray for Hannah and for us.

This week, right after going through MRI & X-rays and receiving an upsetting prognosis, a friend in the industry inexplicably sent me a box of pastries much like a care package and checking on Hannah. My friend had no idea that instead of Hannah, I was now the subject of concern and was on the verge of a full-blown melt down. In faith, I viewed each incident as God stirring these friends to do an ARK or Act of Random Kindness.

I’ve posted these same thoughts on Facebook and I continue to share it in this column just in case you find yourself thinking of someone unexpectedly or unintentionally. Just the other day, I felt led to make “Kamusta” or check on a friend who makes a living doing PR and promotions for hotels, resorts and the like. He is really good at his work and maintains personal ties with friends in media. I was shocked to find out that he has practically lost all his clients and income in the last eight months due to Covid-19. To make matters worse, he has three kids – one in college, two in high school and he can’t even afford to buy an additional laptop so the kids can study online properly. I’m sure it took so much humility on his part to share his frustration. What he didn’t know was that Karen and I had just enough cash on standby to be given to a student who might need a laptop. It was a “divine appointment”. Long story short, the kids got the laptop and have an easier time studying with a larger screen instead of their phones.

This story is not meant to brag. I am hoping that if you feel the leading or the calling, that you would respond. It could make a world of difference to someone who needs to hear God’s message through you. “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.” Act on the leading and do a good deed. It’s obedience not “Yabang” and don’t let the devil fool you! God bless y’all.

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