I feel strongly about the issue of SM Baguio cutting/earth-balling the Luneta Hill pine trees. Baguio blood runs in my veins. Baguio is my home. My Lolo was a forester and I guess he passed on to me his love for nature.
Lolo, Dad’s dad, was an agriculturist and forester. After World War 2, Lolo worked for the regional office of the Bureau of Forestry and was responsible for reforesting parts of Northern Luzon. I remember, though vaguely, stories he told me of his adventures, mostly about planting thousands of trees all over the mountains – the stretch of the Mountain Trail (now Halsema Highway), the hillsides of Baguio. He brought with him a number of people whose primary job was to plant trees. They travelled in caravans across Benguet, and the Mountain Province.
Lolo also created a beautiful forest haven in his home in Baguio. It was near downtown but it looked like nothing you would expect in a home just 10 minutes from Session Road. We had bamboo groves, coffee trees, guava trees, a langka tree, a couple of avocado trees, many other smaller trees and shrubs, more bamboo, and more coffee trees! (We had so much coffee trees that we made our own coffee.) I have a lot of fond memories growing up in our mini-forest. My sisters, cousins and I – we were children of the earth. Literal earth. 😀
Sadly, it isn’t how it used to be anymore – there and most everywhere else in Baguio. The bamboo groves and all the trees are gone.
SM cuts it all for you
Now SM wants to cut/earth-ball/transfer 182 – scratch that, 133 – there are just 133 trees now (49 trees were cut/earth-balled/left for dead during SM’s defiance of the TEPO, according to this open letter from the lead attorney of Project Save 182.)
SM wants to earth-ball/transfer (read: kill) the Luneta Hill pine trees so that it can build an expansion that will house a parking/shopping complex.
Of course they justify this with green-washing – such as a “lushly landscaped Roof Garden with delightful water features”, and that the building is supposedly needed to prevent soil erosion. (I was taught in elementary school that trees, not concrete buildings and most definitely not cutting the trees, prevent soil erosion.)
The protests began late last year, but have recently escalated due to SM’s defiance of a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) issued by the court. The anger, not only among Baguio locals but of others in Metro Manila as well, grew even more when SM went ahead and cut/earth-balled the trees anyway.
(View photos of the earth-balled trees on Luneta Hill here -taken during the site inspection by media and Baguio environmentalists.)
(View video of a tree falling to its death in the middle of the night of April 10. How come DENR and SM deny that any trees were cut? This video does not lie.)
The trees are Baguio’s heritage