PROTECTING MANGROVES. One Meralco Foundation President Jeffrey O. Tarayao (center) leads the community launch of the One for Trees environmental program for the Bakhawan Eco Park together with members of KASAMA led by their Chairman and Executive Director Allan Angelo L. Quimpo, representatives from the provincial government of Aklan, local government unit of Kalibo and the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) of the province.

Nearly three decades since the Bakhawan Eco park in the heart of Kalibo in Aklan came to life, the One Meralco Foundation (OMF) breathes a fresh air of hope for the rehabilitation of the mangrove forest that has become a symbol of community perseverance and environmental preservation through its reforestation initiatives.

Through the One for Trees program, OMF pledged support to the Kalibo Save the Mangroves Association, Inc. (KASAMA) — the caretaker of the Bakhawan Eco park — by planting 100,000 Bacauan and Api-api trees to help rehabilitate the mangrove forest.

Mangrove seedlings. With the need for rehabilitation, One Meralco Foundation grants support to KASAMA. The organization started preparing these Bacauan and Api-api trees seedlings for planting.

The mangroves, which will cover a 10-hectare site within the Eco park, will be cared for by some 200 members of KASAMA who have been persistent in the reforestation of the Bakhawan Ecopark since the 1990s. Planting of the trees started in late January and once completed, will subsequently be maintained and cared for by members of KASAMA for the next three years.

Allan Quimpo, head of Kalibo Save the Mangroves Association, Inc. (KASAMA), speaks during the community launch of the One for Trees program in Kalibo, Aklan. The One Meralco Foundation pledged support for the rehabilitation of the Bakhawan Eco park by planting 100,000 Bacauan and Api-api trees.

“It is essential that the community act as the manager of the mangroves as they have a direct stake in the area,” Allan Quimpo, head of KASAMA, said.

“Through OMF’s One for Trees program, we are turning another page in our milestones, and this is because the community is with us. The mangrove reforestation provides a vital benefit to us all — food to eat, security during typhoons, and a coastal forest patch that holds many of nature’s beauty,” he added.

In 2014, strong typhoons and heavy rains severely damaged the mangrove plantation which prompted the renewed need for its rehabilitation according to Medelyn Quadra, a forest technician from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. More than a mangrove forest, the Bakhawan Eco park is also home to a rich marine life, is an eco-tourism site, and a source of livelihood for members of KASAMA who tirelessly maintain the productive wetlands.

PART of the Kalibo Bakhawan Eco Park is a common fishing ground for the communities residing near the area.

“It is our aim to protect, rehabilitate and nurture critical watersheds and vulnerable forests. The mangrove plantation started by KASAMA necessitates a reforestation support that integrates community inclusion and climate action at its core,” Patrick Famisaran, who manages the One for Trees program of OMF, said.

The One for Trees program of OMF is implemented nationwide and contributes to the preservation and protection of Philippine forests through reforestation and agroforestry.

A PARTNERSHIP for the mangroves. Representatives from One Meralco Foundation, KASAMA, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the local government of Kalibo are seen during the community launch of the One for Trees project.

Currently, the OMF has forged partnerships with various organizations such as the Green Earth Heritage Foundation in San Miguel in Bulacan, the Fostering Education and Environmental Development organization for Siniloan in Laguna, and various local government units in the provinces of Bohol, Bukidnon, and Agusan del Norte among others.

“We, in One Meralco, believe that nurturing the environment is everyone’s job. In the years to come, we will see and experience the importance of protecting and developing these mangrove areas,” Jeffrey O. Tarayao, OMF President and Meralco Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, said.

Read more Daily Tribune stories at:

Follow us on social media
Facebook: @tribunephl
Youtube: TribuneNow
Twitter: @tribunephl
Instagram: @tribunephl
TikTok: @dailytribuneofficial