Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Homecoming Tree Walk!

I am a graduate of Philippine Science High School.  It probably is more than 10 years since the last time I stepped inside the Pisay campus. Last January 21, I went back as a member of the Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society to lecture on native trees to a 4th year high school class and guide them in a mini tree walk around the campus which I am supposedly familiar with.  But the grounds have already changed since the last time I was there.
The kalachuchi trees beside the old humanities buiding are still there
The lobby of the new building where we had the lecture
Bird documentation prepared by Jon
I was of course excited because I am on home ground and curious to know what native trees are still present inside the 7 hectare premises.  My memories of my 4-year high school stay, I could only recall 6 trees (which not all are native): narra (Pterocarpus indicus) at the volleyball courts, golden shower (Cassia fistula) near the entrance, Hura crepitans behind the dorm, powder puff (Calliandra sp.) near the grandstand; and bottlebrush tree (Callistemon viminalis) and kalachuchi (Plumeria spp.) (at the side of the humanities building.  The last tree we used for our research project.  It is sad to see some of these are already gone.
Botong fruits and the PSHS native trees list
The main humanities buiding
One of the Pisay teachers and also a PNPCSI member, Jon Javier, already mapped out the native trees growing around the grounds. They were not plenty but it was still fun to trace where they are located.  I loved seeing that there were old trees of banaba (Lagerstromia speciosa), bitaog (Calophyllum inophyllum), niyog-niyogan (Ficus pseudopalma), bagras (Eucalyptus deglupta), etc.   It was also pleasant to find newly planted seedlings of other natives like ilang-ilang (Cananga odorata), pagsahingan (Canarium asperum), balitbitan (Cynometra ramiflora) and a few more.

It was also nostalgic to see all the old buildings like the canteen, the dorms and the old integrated  science laboratory still standing.  I am hoping that like them, some of the trees we found would still exist when I return again on September for our 25th year jubilee and of course hopefully every year after that that I get the chance to visit. 

As for the students, as expected not all were enthusiastic about the topic.  Most of the time, the majority lagged behind doing their own thing.  But I still carried on with the tree route with much gusto! Fortunately there are a handful of students who looked truly interested on learning about our native trees.  That is for me already enough reward, a little ray of hope for our Philippine flora!
The students with other members of the PNPCSI

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