"Bring Back the Birds"
by Modesta B. Enriquez
(Malalinta Elementary School, San Manuel, Isabela, Philippines )
I was then an elementary grade three teacher when I, together with my pupils, started to plant mahogany seedlings outside the school fence in support of our department's program, "Bring Back the Birds." After a week, we felt disappointed because stray animals had destroyed the plants we planted despite the presence of tree guards. Likewise, unconcerned individuals kept on vandalizing the plants.
We needed to replace them. I approached the Parents-Teachers Association officers and barangay (local village) officials and asked for assistance in keeping the plants from further attack. After some discussions, they agreed to help us in our predicament. A few years later, the seedlings grew into full trees. At this time, these trees have become a haven for birds as well as shade for weary travelers.
When I was transferred to another school, I sustained the program and planted narra seedlings. Happily, those seedlings survived the threat of the environment and grew into beautiful trees.
Now, in my present station, despite objections (seedlings cost something...), we planted mango seedlings and dubbed the activity "Adopt-A-Tree" wherein teachers and stakeholders plant mango seedlings in a vacant space in our schoolyard at their own expense. The pupils do their share in nurturing and caring for the plants, doing maintenance such as weeding and watering the mango seedlings.