Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September Surprise!

Quickpost: I am elated to find that the Clerodendrum Reynold Sioson gave me as a small seedling is now almost my height. This is just less than a year after I received it. Not only was it growing like on steroids, it also bore its first blooms.

Some months ago I posted pictures of the Clerodendrum, which Leonard Co identified as C. minahassae. Now I am happy to report that C. minahassae's simple white flowers have a very faint sweet scent, so faint that you could only catch it when your nose are pointed very close to them. The smell is mild and gentle, like perfume used on babies.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reconnecting the Tree Corridors

I attended the joint tree planting event of the UP Mountaineers and the Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society this morning. There I met Prof. Gerry de Villa once more, who I learned is also U.P. Mountaineer aside from being an avid birdwatcher. He was explaining to us PNPCSI members and the other participants why it is important to plant trees within the U.P. campus.

Prof. Gerry said that when you look at a map of Luzon, you' ll find tree cover lining the extent of the Sierra Madre range which creeps down towards Ipo watershed and then to La Mesa dam. La Mesa of course leads to Balara and the U.P. campus. These aforementioned areas are all linked in a series by a 'tree corridor'. So when U.P. or any of these areas become devoid of trees, the chain is going to be broken. When this happens, the link for birds to fly from one tree to the other is also severed. As a result, the number of birds that can be spotted in those places may decline.

But what is the importance of these birds? Again Prof Gerry answered us with an illustration. In a workshop they conducted for local children in Ipo dam, he asked them where particular trees in the vicinity came from. Some children answered thier parents planted some of them but they did not know who planted the majority. Gerry's reply was nature, which a big part of are birds. It is a cycle after all. The trees should be there for the birds and the trees are there because of birds.

After the brief introductions, and Prof Gerry's short talk, the volunteers commenced digging and planting the donated seedlings. The ground was quite hard and excavating holes proved more difficult, but with the number of participants present, the job was finished in an hour or so. Planted into the ground were seedlings of kamagong (Diospyros digna), supa (Sindora supa), kalumpit (Terminalia microcarpa), Philippine teak ( Tectona philippinensis), alibangbang (Bauhinia malabarica), kalumpang (Sterculia foetida) and some dipterocarps. With a little care and patience, these will in no time reinforce the tree corridors in this part of Manila.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Image of the Future

Sorry I have not been blogging about trees for a couple of weeks. I am a little preoccupied with teaching duties because it is already nearing the end of the first academic semester. In my Arch 2 class I have been asking my students to draw images of the cities of tomorrow, as a practice for them to convey new ideas by drawing and sketching. Just to prove to them it is easy, I did my own drawings, my renditions of the future.

I drew in the research room. My co-faculty were looking over my shoulders and one of them, Arch. Grace Servino, commented that my idea of the future is a bit industrialized. She was saying that for a plant-enthusiast such as me, I paint a very non-green picture of my chosen year, 2100. Her remark made me think, she was right!

I had an image of a toppled down Eiffel tower with more massive steel structures emerging from the ruins. In another, I had details of metal gears and pinions. The last had the Easter Island figures being transported by art deco inspired hover crafts, carrying them into an adjacent neo-city, ironic that I chose Easter Island as it is a fine example how an island became desolate, stripped by man with its natural resources.

As additional drawing, I decided to draw minimalist structures under the canopy of a conifer forest, just to balance off my first three drawings. I should always be optimistic that a green future is very much possible!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Digital Native Palm

I was perusing through the Google Sketch-Up 3D Warehouse and found a digital file of Adonidia merrillii or simply our very own Manila palm (locally known as bungang china). I am amazed how our native tree has become important to have a digitally generated component for design. Bungang china is endemic found only in Palawan and Coron. But even before the Americans botanized Palawan the palm has already been cutivated and found its way to different parts of the globe. It has become a very popular landscape plant, locally and abroad.

Another point to ponder: in the landscape of Petronas towers (one of the last projects executed by international landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx), the palm lining the banks of the main pond appears to be A. merrillii. I still have to confirm it. If it is, it would be heart warming to know that they used a Philippine palm despite the richness of palm diversity in Malaysia.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I am reminiscing what the first tourist attraction our Balinese tour guide showed us. It is a common rice field. He stopped at the outskirts of Ubud expecting us to dismount the van and take posterity pictures. Funny thing is we did.

Once out of the vehicle my friends asked why we stopped. We realized that most western tourists would find this an exciting sight to see as there are not much rice paddies in their respective countries. But us Filipinos are used to seeing rice, as far as the eye could see. But we still obliged with the pictures.

More hilarious stuff, after just a few minutes we again came to a halt and our guide exalted, rice terraces! And again we went down to see the Bali version of the rice terraces. It still is beautiful but not quite impressive as the Cordillera rice terraces which I saw just a few months earlier. Hehehe. Funny how we Filipinos are so eager to see everything in another country, even if there are same things back home.

Bali is a very beautiful place to see. It has rich culture and traditions that most of us Filipinos would envy. But at the end of the day, even how beautiful the places you visit, home is still where you would want to stay.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reasons Why There Should be More Trees...

Quickpost: Probably one noticeable difference when you get out of Manila and the Philippines is that you could find more wildlife even though the place you visit is as busy as Ubud in Bali. Ubud is already comparable to Antipolo in terms of development but the bird species are still very much around. Macaque monkeys still abound and visible in the remaining forested areas. Because the trees are still there there are still places for these animals to find home in. Fauna is not limited to the introduced maya and other exotics (like vermin, mongrels and pusakals).