MMPC Goes Green at Tanay Kaliwa Watershed

Thursday, August 01, 2013

It was such an eventful one—last weekend was. Last Saturday, July 27, MMPC conducted the fourth (and final) phase of its tree planting project in Tanay. I know, I know. It would've been more exciting if I got to blog this real-time. I’m trying real hard, trust me. But like I said, I've been busy this past weekend (and the whole week too, if that makes any difference) plus you already know that other thing about my tools. So there we go. 

Oh, wait. Allow me to use this opportunity to ask for a tablet or a laptop. I’d even settle for a smartphone with a decent camera. Pleeeeeeaaaase! Could someone donate one? Nyahahaha.

It’s a long shot but, hey, you’ll never know.


This, right here, is the first installment of an epic trilogy that was my weekend.

Commence! Woohoo!

So, ok. The assembly time for the tree planting was 5am, the ETD was 5:30. I arrived a couple of minutes past the ETD. I was astounded as everything was right on time. Everyone was already boarding the vehicles, if not already on board. One of my colleagues, Remlo, hollered at me as I entered MMPC’s main gate. “Celine! Dito ka na!” he beckoned. He was standing on the back of a black Mitsubishi Strada. I hurried towards him, almost running. I climbed the cargo area of the pickup, relieved that I did not get left behind. There were five passengers: Me, Nikko, Remlo and two of his friends. We remained standing because the floor was wet from last night's rain. I then spotted AJ, the designated photographer, and cooed him for a photo. He obliged. He took two photos even:

Yep, I just got out of the shower.

Amazing how a DSLR can attract people
The people on the ground immediately dispersed after AJ walked away with the camera. Haha. As I shouted a thank you to AJ, I saw Mr. Shibata, MMPC's President and CEO, walking at a fast pace towards a white Montero. He was immediately followed by the Yamadas. Yes, the other two Japanese executives share the same surname. So with clarity in mind, let us refer to them as Akihiro and Masaaki. I think they won't mind if we get on a first-name basis, don't you agree? At any rate, it dawned on me that the reason behind everything being done as scheduled was because two executives, and the president himself, were joining us on this activity. Japanese time trumps Filipino time.

At any rate, the tree planting caravan left at quarter-to-six. The five of us didn't have any choice but to sit down on the still-wet floor of the cargo area. Despite the soggy feeling on our bottoms, we were still excited because our driver, Sir Eli, was one with a sense of urgency. We all have a need for speed. 

As we ply the less traveled road to Tanay, we were treated to breathtaking views of green and blue. However, midway, a thick pall of what I presumed was smog, gathered over and around us. It was almost zero-visibility:

I wasn't worried, though. In fact, I was confident Sir Eli would get us through safely. And he did. Tiwala lang.
The smog, fog, whatever, started to lift
I seemed to have lost track of time because all of a sudden we were taking a right to the dirt track that was the entrance to Kaliwa Watershed. Now, this was the fun part. We got to cross three streams! 
Taken while the Strada was going across the 2nd stream
L-R: Nikko, Me, and Remlo
After spanning the third one, we got off at a small sandy shore. I should mention that my eyes, hair, face and nose caught the dirt that gusted past us while Sir Eli drove on the dirt roads. I didn't mind. I even thought my hair looked better with dirt on it. Haha.

In any case, I jumped off the Strada and did some stretching. Seconds later, I saw AJ. I said his name and he already knew what I wanted. Haha. I grabbed Sir Eli and Nikko, and posed for a photo:
As if I have something to flex
It was no surprise that after this photo was taken, a swarm of people and a paroxysm of "Kami naman!" or "Dito naman!" rattled an otherwise quiet place.

Let the sunlight pour through
I felt a bit sorry for AJ. Well, sympathetic is more appropriate. I knew the feeling of not being in any photos. So I asked for the camera and barked at him to strike a pose.
AJ trying to suppress his mirth. He's the one in the white-ish shorts.
Yay! AJ is already in two photos!
Later on, Ady went on and said some things that I really did not pay attention to. Except maybe the "good morning" part. Haha. After that, I took my sneakers and socks off, pulled the hems of my sweatpants up and started crossing another, albeit shallow, stream. The rest of my colleagues took after.
After crossing the river, of course I put my footwear back on. After passing through a rice field, we arrived at the foot of the planting site where Kuya Arnold--a representative from the DENR--gave a short talk before we trekked to the actual tree planting area.
That's Ma'am Zerla in yellow and my kutsarol is out of sight here
Hi-ho, colleagues!
So we climbed the hill and started planting saplings. At one point, I noticed Akihiro carelessly plunking down a sapling into its designated pre-dug hole. "Sir!" I said to call his attention. He looked at me all innocent. "Your work is substandard!" I pointed out, eyes squinted towards the sunlight. He smiled a cretinous smile and mumbled in a sing-song voice,"You worry too much! Trees are strong, like a lady."
That's Akihiro Yamada trying to charm his way out a substandard planting
At another point, I saw him step on a patch of soil where I just planted a sapling. "You stepped on my tree!" I said, exasperated by the playfulness of this Japanese. "I'm putting pressure. Look," he punctuated this by lightly stamping on the soil. I rolled my eyes and went ahead.

I left Akihiro behind and found myself with familiar company:

Zoom in and see how sweaty I was:
I sweat for nature
Now, here are our executives in action:
Mr. Shibata with his signature smile
Masaaki Yamada smiles for the SLR
I planted a total of 17 saplings that day. I hope all of them live to become great towering trees.
Grow tall as the sky, my little sapling
Moments after it has been declared that all saplings have been returned home to the earth, we climbed down for some good ol' buko!

To tell you the truth, I look forward to this part of the tree planting. I loooooove buko so so much. I even started to get a bit annoyed when I didn't immediately get a buko. Remlo was kind enough to pick a buko for me. Hehe. In fact, I even asked Ady for some coins to buy another one. (I only had a 500peso bill left in my wallet.) Unfortunately, she left her purse in the car. Luckily, Kuya Jeamben took pity on me and handed me a hundred-peso bill. I bought another one! Yay!
Chit-chatting with Ma'am Abby while waiting for my buko
Inside is refreshing buko juice
Juicy, yummy buko flesh
After having buko, banana, and boiled egg, we posed for a group shot:
Even Mr. Shibata was "looking up"
We posed for a couple more group shots before it was decided that it was time to go home. So we crossed the shallow stream, back to our rides. I plopped down on the ground and put my socks and sneakers back on. After which, I saw a carabao-drawn kariton heading our way. It was filled with buko. The man atop the carabao unmounted the creature and started distributing the bulk-orders to those who asked for them. I asked, not really seriously, "Kuya, pwede sumakay?" To my surprise and welcomed joy, he said sure. I got extremely excited. Sir Eli and Sir Gary took to assist me as I clumsily mounted the noble creature. I probably looked right at home. I looked like I've been doing field work. It was awesome! I got teary-eyed. It was my dream to ride a carabao!
Sometimes all you have to do is ask
I am so grateful to Sir Eli and Sir Gary for looking out for me. I felt more affectionate towards them because of their gesture. :)

Anyway, me-on-a-carabao is worth so much more than me-on-a-Pajero. It was gold!

After my short affair with the carabao, we headed out back to MMPC for the closing program and lunch. This time, Nikko and I opted to sit inside the Strada as it was already hot outside. Remlo and his friends decided to stay outside, Majesty decided to join them as well.

Back at MMPC, we were showed a photo compilation of the past tree planting activities. I got teased that most of the pictures had me in it. Haha. Not my fault. Our lunch was not bad either. I had two rounds of fish fillet, rice, and sauteed mixed vegetables. I got hungry. Heh.

We had many a good laugh during the program. I sat back and smiled the whole time. I was just so happy that I got to participate in this activity. I'm glad I got to plant trees. I'm most especially glad that my dream of riding a carabao (even if it wasn't actually moving) came true! Hooray for Nature! Hooray for dreams coming true! 

Cheers to the next adventure!

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