By Ramon S. Ang
Felicitations, everyone, especially my friends in the MWSS headed by chairman Elpidio Vega and MTFI officials Reynaldo Velasco and Melandrew Velasco.
Thank you for this opportunity to participate in the commemoration of the Million Trees Foundation, Inc. anniversary.
I believe any worthwhile organization is defined by a strong sense of purpose.
I am glad that for MTFI, this purpose is to take on the ambitious but arduous task of planting millions of trees in critical watershed areas, including the La Mesa Watershed.
The importance of this endeavor in this day and age of climate change cannot be overemphasized.
With more and more forest areas threatened by degradation, hands-on and direct action such as what MTFI and others responsible organizations are doing, is critical in ensuring we can at least mitigate some of the impacts of climate change.
The role of trees and forests in our lives is basic but commonly overlooked–or worse, ignored.
Apart from providing us valuable resources such as food and building materials, trees also protect us against land erosion and flooding.
In the case of watersheds, they help ensure that there will be water for human survival.
Fortunately for many of us, the MWSS and MTFI have not let their guard down in this area, and have been successful in reforesting target watersheds these last couple of years.
With the help of institutional partners and volunteers, they were able to surpass the five million trees target and have set another ambitious goal.
And that is to plant 10 million more trees by the year 2030.
Let me take this opportunity to assure you, you are not alone in this advocacy. For our part, San Miguel, through our power arm, San Miguel Global Power, have also surpassed the five-million tree mark in our own reforestation program, Project 747.
This initiative targets to plant seven million upland trees and mangroves on some 4,000 hectares of land in at least seven provinces, nationwide.
These provinces include Albay, Bataan, Bulacan, Davao Occidental, Negros Occidental, Pangasinan, Quezon province, and Zambales.
We do not only aim to plant trees. Through our partner communities and organizations, we make sure these grow to adulthood so they can provide benefits to present and future generations.
In terms of rehabilitating our vital bodies of water, San Miguel is also committed to cleaning up our river systems.
In August 2022, we completed the rehabilitation of the Tullahan River, where we extracted more than one million metric tons of silt and waste.
Today, this program extends to the Pasig River, San Juan River and the Meycauayan River in Bulacan province.
Our goal is to improve flood mitigation, improve water quality, and hopefully, in the long run, these tributaries will teem with healthy marine life again.
Having said that, I think we all understand that it will take more than the efforts of a few well-meaning organizations to effect the kind of change that will truly matter to our environment for the long term, including our watersheds.
Every effort counts.
That is why I am grateful to MTFI not just marshaling support for this huge endeavor, but more importantly, for keeping everyone focused on its urgency and importance, year in and year out.
Congratulations on your anniversary. Maraming salamat po sa pakikinig and mabuhay tayong lahat!
(Speech at the first anniversary celebration of the Million Trees Foundation. Inc. Nursery and Eco Learning Center on M arch 16, 2023 at the La Mesa Watershed read by Bulacan Bulk Water Manager Edgar Dona for RSA, President and CEO of San Miguel Corporation).