SM Supermalls vice president for Operations Bien Mateo says there is “>misunderstanding on their proposed mall redevelopment at Luneta Hill in Baguio City.
Mateo “claimed the mall expansion taking place anytime this first quarter of the year, will not result to the cutting of 182 trees, as these trees including saplings will be earth balled according to specifications of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). An expert will be hired in earth balling of pine trees will ensure the process will not harm the trees.” According to Mateo, “they will use scientific processes like proper depth and width of earth balling to protect these trees.” these trees will then be transferred to areas around the mall and places where the DENR will specify, as well as in parks in coordination with the City Environment and Parks Management Office.
Mateo added , “It is not corporate greed, we are always transparent, we are only grabbing opportunity for investments to come into the country”
Residents however are questioning the DENR’s issuance of permit to the mall giant last Oct. 27 for the cutting, balling and pruning of trees at the highland city’s Luneta Hill.
“DENR shows preferential treatment for business establishments against original inhabitants, locals and residents who have long cared for the environment. Economy at the expense of the environment is greed,” a petition initiated by Michael Bengwayan of the Cordillera Ecological Center reads.
SM’s plan to ball pine trees is tantamount to killing them
Lisa Araneta an advocate in Baguio city in her facebook post insist that ” EARTHBALLING THE TREES IS TANTAMOUNT TO KILLING THEM. ”
Michael A. Bengwayan of Pine Tree Cordillera Ecological Center explains
A tree with a diameter of more than 15 cm has less survival chance. In the late 1990s, some 497 pine trees were earthballed by Camp John Hay Dev’t Corporation but only less than 20 per cent survived and those not dead are showing signs of deteriorating.
Bengwayan said uprooted or earth-balled pine trees above 10 years have a very low survival rate when replanted, citing the case of earth-balling activities inside Camp John Hay.
Help us save the trees
Bengwayan makes an appeal to save the trees:
I am a tree planter. I have produced and planted thousands of trees. In so many places. In many countries. For many years. I have a man-made forest I built in five hectare area. Native trees thrive with nitrogen fixing trees, gasoline trees, forest coffee, mango, santol, pomelo, pineapple, lemon, jackfruit, calamansi, rambutan and lanzones. I have some 3,000 pine trees on top of my mountain, muyung-style.
Every time I think of the trees that SM will cut and ball, I take a deep breath and hear my trees murmur, their pine needles rustling as they brush against each other. Then they stop when the breeze ceases. They remind me how short our time is in this beautiful world. How short the time is for us to save those trees at SM.
To a Baguio-born and raised like me, I love to reminiscence the Baguio that was. It used to be a lot greener, the sky clearer, the air crisper and pine-scented and the mountains awash with sunflower yellow. But it was then, a long time ago. Talking about then and now, we surely realize that Baguio has changed. For the worst. The forests have lost its green, leaving only rotten stumps and occupied by mushrooming concrete, uncollected garbage and unsightly landfills . We can hear the mourning of the hills of Baguio, as bulldozers and backhoes prove their worth as masters of disasters.
We in Baguio know that our city is in demand to do more and more without the leaders thinking how to fix the damages they incur to this haven. Try to think about your most prized possession, broken to pieces. Baguio is not only yours, but it is all Filipinos’ prized possession, and it is nearly reaching its breaking down point.
The city is losing its balance, as bulldozers, plastics, trashes and saws cut through its barrier, bringing the extinction to living things. Its unstoppable, constant pace is turning into a nightmare, where the city’s land itself is the ticking time bomb, waiting for the right time to explode.
And all of a sudden, as if our problems were not enough. All of a sudden, after so many deaths and destruction. All of a sudden when thousands have perished from Ormoc, Southern Leyte, Kibungan Village, Samar, Illigan City, CDO to Campostela Valley, because of man’s folly to forests and mountains, we are faced by a problem of potential terrifying proportions. Another rape of our remaining trees.
But why should you care?. You can travel to the beach to smell unpolluted air. You can build a four storey house and not get flooded. You can buy your water everyday. You can stay inside your air condi-apartment and be cool.
But can you? Can we?