Last July, UP President Roman issued a memorandum ordering that from that time on, all trees to be planted on campus should be native species. In line with this and the recent UP centennial celebration, 100 native tree species are to be planted on a premium area between Palma and Melchor Halls, along the Beta Epsilon way. The person tasked to carry out such a directive was former ground supervisor Emiliano Sotalbo. Sir Sotalbo has already selected 60 previous species and they were planted by various alumni and organizations.
This morning, 4 more plant species were added to the roster of 100, bringing the tally to 64. The lucky individuals or entities given the opportunity to be immortalized in the centennial plot by adding their own trees were the late Odette Alcantara, Professor Perry Ong, the Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society and the UP Institute of Biology. The rites were held early at 7 am with a handful of PNPCSI in attendance. Of course I was present to photo-document.
Tree no. 61 is Pometia pinnata or the malugai, a handsome tree planted in memory of Zero waste management champion Odette Alcantara who 2 months ago passed away of an aneurism. To represent her, Ana Oposa (daughter of the Magsaysay awardee, environmentalist lawyer Tony Oposa) and Kester Uy (a geology student), a new blood of zero waste advocates, planted the malugai in her honor. Incidentally malugai is a very attractive tree related to the mango and dao (cashew family) and is very much worthy as a garden ornamental.
Tree no. 62 is Diplodiscus paniculatus or balobo, planted by the loved UP Biology teacher, Prof. Perry Ong. The good professor celebrated his Chinese 50th birthday and Prof. Susan Aquino-Ong arranged a tree planting to commemorate the milestone. What makes it more memorable is the introduction of this Diplodiscus species into the UP Diliman campus. D. paniculatus is one of the under-exploited native fruit trees in our country and a promising orchard specimen.
Tree no. 63 is Reutealis trisperma or baguilumbang which was planted in honor of the PNPCSI. The group was represented by its Society President Leonard Co, board member George Yao, and members Susan Aquino Ong, Lita Sopsop and Ronald Achacoso. The society is currently celebrating its 2nd year anniversary with its very first tree planting event. The choice of tree is also unique as the Reutealis is one genus that is endemic in the Philippines and nowhere else, truly a species worth conservation and recognition.
Tree no. 64 is Shorea almon or almon which was the tree choice planted by staff of the UP Institute of Biology. Shorea almon is one of our endangered native dipterocap species thus the sturdy wood tree is a befitting symbol for the formidable science institution.
After the ceremonial plantings, the real challenge of assuring growth and health of the trees on site will start. As for the remaining species, holes for succeeding numbers were already dug, awaiting their honored counterparts. Let us hope the trees would grow majestically, becoming lasting symbols of the people and organizations they represent.