On the way back to the hotel today, overheard on the bus.
N: It was quite a fruitless day today huh…
E: No, we had coconut.
So the day began with an insightful seminar by Mr Pat Dugan, the man behind the Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) reforestation technique. His comments about sincerity and being genuine in involving the community were really very inspiring. He’s 81 years old, and has been pushing for ANR at the community, barangay, municipal, provincial, national, regional levels since the 1970s. He’s so fit he’s walking all over the steep and slippery slopes in sports shoes, pressing weeds with the planks, and slashing at monocotyledons with a parang. He makes it seem so effortless. Then, he passes the plank and the parang to us. We make feeble attempts at identifying the broad-leaf dicotyledon to protect and the weeds to press and slash, and then we realise how much skill it actually requires than we initially imagine.
Then the rain came, and boy, was it heavy. We were forced to cease our activities and take cover. By the time the rains let up, the slopes had become too slippery for us to lay any transect or do any forest survey safely. It was a tad disappointing, but then one of the men from the village came and started climbing the coconut tree nearby. Before we knew it, he was up on the tree with 55 pairs of eyes trained on him as he expertly cut down about 15 coconuts for all of us to share. After a very delicious and ‘fruitful’ time, we made our way back.
Having the opportunity to walk the long way to the bus with Mr Dugan was quite a privilege. His optimism about environmental change is infectious, more than I’ve seen for a while. The tendency to remain pessimistic is high – when we sit in our lecture theatres, read the usually depressing journal articles, and bemoan the environmental challenges facing the world. But it was refreshing hearing this today from a man who has been in this forestry business for the last 3 decades: “About the environmental problems today, I’m optimistic that things will get better. More and more people know about climate change and are doing something about it. Maybe I’m an optimist, but it’s hard to get anything done if you’re a pessimist, right?”
Right. It was indeed a fruitful day (:
Team Mabuti (Group 8)
Sarah Koh, Weijian, Colin, Gwen, Kaylene, Josef, Ivan