The SM Baguio Eco War

by Maricel

I am for Nature. Everyone close to me, would know that. I feel an urge and a responsibility to preserve and sustain God’s creation, something that I myself cannot wholly understand.

Perhaps, I am a born- environmentalist. And with earth as my element, the urge I felt is driven by my innate connection to the ground beneath me. So perhaps I could appropriately affirm that I am a child of the earth.

Since last week, environmentalists were outraged when 182 mature pine trees in Luneta Hills in Baguio were planned to be earth- balled to give way to SM’s expansion project. This action resulted to a heated eco battle which sparked up massive protests in and around Baguio city comprising of Baguio residents, religious personalities, environmentalists and concerned concerned citizens. Yet even with the Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) ordered by the Baguio RTC, SM officials pursued its plan, until later yesterday.

Initially, maybe to compensate for the damages that the project would cause, SM vowed to plant 50 tress for every tree that will be earth- balled, so all in all, that would total to 9, 100 additional/ replacement tress to be planted. That in case the ones being earth-balled will not survive the torture, there will still be thousand more back-ups ready to take the responsibility of those that will be uprooted. And what are those responsibilities? Trees provides oxygen for all living creatures. It gives home to countless different organisms and animals, provides us shade, take in the harmful CO2s, retain water so that erosion will be minimized, among others.

But wait, did the SM officials considered the amount of time these trees will need before they could eventually take its role? According to tree experts earth-balled trees has lesser probabilities of surviving. So if that’s the case, who then will take the gazzillion amount of harmful gases while these trees are preparing for its role in the future? Obviously, us, the people. While the rest goes to the environment, incurring greater damage to Mother nature and its other inhabitants.

And not just for the shade that it provides or for the aid it gives in cleaning up the air, I had special affection for the trees. Maybe because I was a squirrel or an owl in my past life. Or maybe, I was a tree myself. I’ve read somewhere that there were trees known to have lived for thousands of years. These lucky creatures stood the test of time and bore witness to the passing civilization. Some were even older than Jesus himself. Now, isn’t that amazing?

As a photography enthusiast, I took inspiration from what I see around me. Even little tender sprouts I saw in my garden or any changes I saw in the leaves of trees for me is a natural art worth of admiration. If one can admire and appreciate a man-made high- end infrastructure, how much more a creation that blooms out naturally? If one gets amazed by a 757 Boeing aircraft, how much more the flight of a free- flying Monkey-eating eagle in the wild?

There’s more to life than meets the eye. And there’s more to nature than what our eyes are capable of perceiving. Admiring it for the beauty that it gives may not be enough to grasp an understanding in order to fully appreciate nature’s role in our lives and in the world we live.

Deforestation, kaingin system or any way that would jeopardize Nature’s systemic order should be taken seriously. Afterall, whatever we do to nature will directly affect our only planet. I guess, its proper to remind everyone again and again that while we uphold socio- economic development, it is likewise very important to stand our ground defending, preserving and sustaining the only planet we have.

The Eco war between SM and the warriors of Mother Earth will continue, until some people driven by greed and personal interests will cede for the betterment not just of the (rich) few but of the majority.