As I was planting the acacia (Albizia saman) seeds I got from UPLB, I wondered how often other people take time to plant a tree. I wish people plant trees often. I asked my self the same question and I wonder.
Trees are a big part of my childhood. The oldest memory I can recall is a picture of the gigantic dapdap tree by the seashore. In this scene I remember my father holding my hand as we walk. A fishing net is draped over the dapdap’s branch. This is the place where children and adults from our neighbourhood gather. As a child my grandmother will always ask: “Saan ka pupunta?” My reply is always: “Dyan lang po sa dapdap.”
This tree is amazing. I’ve been around it so much that I remember clearly how it changes in the span of a year. It’s usually leafy in the cold but relatively calm months of December to February. By the summer months, it attracts migratory (or just unusual) birds. Bird shooters often come to hunt them with their airguns. It goes full bloom near the end of the summer. It’s flowers are orange to red and from afar the canopy is mostly red. When the wind blows the flowers sway and it looks as if the tree is burning. By the middle of the year it is bearing fruits. Bats make the tree their home during this period. There are so many of them I almost pity the people who lives near the tree. They probably couldn’t sleep while the bats are in a feeding frenzy. For the rest of the year it’s the rainy season. The tree goes leafless from time to time because of the strong winds and rain specially during the peak of the typhoon season.
Just a few years ago my brother told me that the dapdap tree is gone. Some how he knows that this will come as a sad news for me, and it is. I don’t even have a picture of it. Just memories. It is something I will never ever see again. Unfortunately, most of the trees I recall from my youth is gone.
I can only recall a couple of times when I was asked to plant a tree and this was when I was in high school. I know these trees grew to maturity because I personally checked them when I was in college. Both of them are gone now as well.
It’s been many years since I realised that majestic trees are disappearing faster than people care to notice. For the past few years, I pledged that I will plant at least three trees on my birthday and each time I failed. That was a mistake. I no longer wait for any occasion to plant a tree. I just plant them whenever I can.
If it has been a while since you last planted a tree. Please do plant one. If you are in the city plant one in a nursery pot. In a few months you’ll have a healthy sapling. Bring it with you on you next trip to the province. Ask your lola where you can plant your tree. Use the GPS feature on your phone so you know exactly where your tree is. Visit it as often as you can. Share pictures of it on social media. Let the world know you planted a tree. One day many years from now, you’ll have a majestic tree that owes its life to you. It might even outlive you. Isn’t that a pretty thought?
Please take care of our trees.