Tungtong River Conservation Project

an environmental advocacy of the Holistic Education and Development Center

Category: News and Events (Page 1 of 10)

Earth sisters! (Saving trees at 6am with my sister, 13 July 2016)


That’s me (in black) and my sister Lulu having a nice chat as the morning sun warmed our backs.

The TRCP Coordinator, Sir Henry Calilung invited my sister and I to a tree maintenance session to check on the conditions of tree saplings planted along the banks of the river last Wednesday, July 13.  Sir H (as he is coolly called by his students) led us to the upstream parts of the river to an area in which several attempts to plant trees have already been made.  However, very few of the saplings manage to survive.





Here’s a dead sapling.

The saplings either dry up during the dry season or get strangled by vines during the rainy season.  Maintaining the trees (watering in the dry season and pruning during the rainy season) requires a lot of time and effort.



As we continued to scout the area, we were thrilled to find 10 healthy and budding saplings (garnering a big hurray) that made the 6:00 am trek worth the while.

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It was a definitely a rewarding trek.  Although some of the saplings were beyond saving, we managed to find a few that began to bud and so secured them with bamboo poles.  Although we lacked in hands, we managed to do a lot of work all before the sun fully rose.  We are inviting more people to help us care for the endangered Philippine native trees in the Tungtong River’s Tree Conservatory areas.  Calling all Earth heroes! Come join us every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00am (meeting place is at HEDCen).


Words and photos by Lyka and Lulu Arellano.  Lyka, the older sister is a HEDCen HS Graduate Batch 2015 and is now taking up Music in UP Diliman; Lulu is an incoming Grade 10 HEDCen HS student and is the President of the HEDCen Student Council 2016-2017.


Hoos that? (New bird record for Tungtong, 20 Jun 2016)

IMG_3220The security and maintenance staff of a grocery store near to TRCP’s host school of Holistic Education and Development Center gave to us a Philippine Scops-Owl (Otus megalotis) that they found in their parking lot.  They reportedly saw the owl dropping from a nearby tree.

Upon examination, we did not find any obvious injuries so after documenting and getting morphometric data, we kept the owl in a cage with water.  We tried feeding it with a small lab mouse but it didn’t want to (maybe because it was noon time?).  We released the owl by dusk and it flew to a nearby cluster of bamboo trees and stayed perched for some time before flying off.  Unfortunately, we were unable to collect blood feathers for DNA fingerprinting and had no access to a bird tag at the time.

Bill length – 20mm; Bill depth – 18mm; Wing length – 190mm; Tail length – 95mm; Tarsus length – 50mm; 250 g

This is exciting for us since it confirms the presence of the species in the Tungtong River watershed.  We’ve been hearing them for sometime and even receiving anecdotal reports of sightings but this is the first time that we have concrete proof.

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Many thanks to Sir Ton Nakpil (HEDCen’s Multimedia and Information Technology Subject Area Coordinator) for the cool pictures!  Teacher Rubby Alcaraz (HEDCen’s Math Coordinator) and Sir Henry Calilung (TRCP Coordinator) took morphometric data while some Grade 2 and 3 students looked on.

PS If anyone out there has an alternative ID, we’d be glad to hear from you.

(Back post) International Coastal Cleanup on 27 Sep 2014


Click here to read the post.

Of birthdays and trees (Family fun at the river, June 18, 2016)


Last June 18, Chloe decided to spend her 11th birthday in the Tungtong River.  She spent the day with her family (Daddy Jodee, Mommy Mary Ann, Kuya Josh and younger brother Jose) guided by TRCP Coordinator Mr. Henry G. Calilung and TRCP Staff Alex Monserata Sr.  Chloe’s family are from Quezon City and they do not study in HEDCen.



Getting to know HEDCen’s wilder residents

We started the day with a tour of the Holistic Education and Development Center’s animals, kept here for educational purposes.  The kids had fun experiencing close encounters with otherwise creepy crawlies.  It’s through moments like these that a child learns to, in the words of HEDCen’s foundress Teacher Emma Gutierrez, “Respect all creatures great and small.”

Not quite a walk in the park

After the wild halls of HEDCen, we went to the not-so-tame wilderness of Tungtong River.  Chloe’s family trekked under a forest canopy, waded a sea of grass, filled their shoes with river water and got their fill of sunlight, wind, water and yes, the call of wild birds.  Our trek ended on top of the Tungtong River falls where the group waited while Sir Henry and Kuya Alex set-up the rappel gear.

Young mountaineers

The family were a little scared at first but soon enjoyed the sensation of ‘going down a rope’ which is the definition of rappelling.  Unfortunately, Jose is still too young for this activity so he contented himself splashing in the cool river waters.

Family fun at the falls

After the rappel, we rested a bit and had some fun at the base of the Tungtong River falls.  This place is certainly worth protecting even if just for the smiles that it brings to the faces of children such as these!

Becoming a true guardian of this Earth

It took us only 20 minutes or so but this last part of the trip was the most meaningful not only for Chloe and her family but for the millions of Tungtong River resident plants and animals as well.  The family planted 3 endangered Philippine native hardwood saplings- 2 Ipils (Intsia bijuga) and 1 Mulawin (Vitex parviflora).  We ended the day with a nice picnic lunch packed prepared by Mommy Mary Ann.

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Not only did Chloe get her birthday wish for an outdoor adventure, she also became a true guardian of this Earth.  Happy Birthday Chloe!

Providing oxygen for 140 people every single day (G3 Tree Planting, 20 April 2016)


The Grade 3 batch of HEDCen went to the river as part of their Science class under Teacher Mariel.  With the guidance of Sir Justin Duque and other TRCP staff, the children got a first-hand immersive experience on walking the HEDCen talk of becoming Better People for a Better Earth.

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The day began with a short talk by TRCP Coordinator, Mr. Henry Calilung.  More familiarly referred to by HEDCen students as Sir H, he gave instructions on the proper way of planting the trees and of why it is important to plant native trees in our forests.  From HEDCen, we proceeded to trek to the tree planting site.  A bee hive (known in Tagalog as pulot pukyutan) and madre cacao blooms greeted the class on the trail.  Sir H also showed the Grade 3 students a sapling of Sindora supa (locally known as supa) which was planted by volunteers of Hands On Manila last 2011.  The supa tree is valued for its durable timber and aromatic oil.  Unfortunately, extensive logging of this species has earned it a place in the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) Red List of endangered species.  What makes the supa doubly special is that it is found only in Luzon and Mindoro.

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The first activity was tree planting.  The Grade 3 students planted 35 ipil saplings.  Known to botanists as Intsia bijuga, ipil trees (not to be confused with the more common ipil-ipil) are another valuable timber species.  They very much deserve to be called by their English common name of Moluccan ironwood.  Used globally in heavy-duty construction (including railroad track supports!), ipil tree stands throughout Asia have been thoughtlessly cut down.  Very few natural stands remain and no sustainable ipil plantations have been established.  Apart from its timber, ipil also has extensive yet untapped medicinal properties.  The tree planting was also a meaningful bonding experience between parent and child (or guardian and child for some cases) as the following pictures attest.

The tree planting was followed by a short break.  The students had some fun frolicking round the water falls after eating their snacks.  The result?  Plenty of wet pants and wide grins!

The Grade 3 Science activity was concluded with a short river cleanup.  No, they did not pick up loads and loads of trash but just the same, the cleanup (and the entire day) was a success.  Why so?  This is because TRCP was once again able to bring children one step closer to their Mother Earth.

A note on the title of this post:

It is estimated that a fully grown tree produces oxygen for four people every day.  So if all 35 saplings achieve their full potential (in about 10 years), that’s enough oxygen for 140 people everyday!






Environmental Olympics anyone? (Tungtong River clean-up race 4 March 2016)

IMG_1073As far as I know (or should I say as far as Google knows), there is no Environmental Olympics anywhere in the world.  So TRCP instituted a competitive clean-up race at the 2016 HEDCen Sportsfest.  This could be the start of something big!  =)


The 4 teams were given an hour to collect trash.  The hour limit includes the bringing and weighing of the trash in the collecting station.  The HS students who participated ended up looking as dirty as the trash they collected but the smiles on their very tired faces showed that they had a rockin’ good time.  The big winner in this event is of course the resident plants and animals of the Tungtong River, who I am sure thanked the students of HEDCen for making their home a little bit cleaner.  Kudos to these Guardians of the Earth!

Cheers to Sir A (Librarian of HEDCen’s Resource Center for Discovery and Learning) for the nice photos!

Support The Student Council’s Fundraising Initiative For The Tungtong River

You KNOW about global warming.

You’ve HEARD that our climate has changing.

You’ve actually FELT that the years are becoming warmer and warmer.


HEDCen’s Student Council invites you to support its movie showing for the benefit of the Tungtong River Conservation Project. We seek to plant 10,000 trees in the river in celebration of TRCP’s 10th year anniversary. The link below is an opportunity to ACT. Let us make our Earth a little better.

We are not permitted by the film distributor to mention the film title but it is the 3rd sequel of a very popular cartoon movie of a PANDA doing KUNG FU =).

* wink  wink *

To reserve your tickets and to find out details regarding the movie, visit:


We are also open to partnering with sponsors. Please contact us here if you are interested in sponsoring.

Our current partners:

Major Sponsors

Minor Sponsors


Ateneo De Manila Air Force Cadets go GREEN (ADMU ROTC Tree planting, 18 Nov 2015)

For the past two years, through the initiative of Cadet Captain Justin Abe Descallar and Cadet Major Joseph Caligner, the Ateneo De Manila Reserve Officer Training Corps of Air Force Cadets have been participating in environmental camps at the Tungtong River.  Last February 4, 2015, they planted close to 60 endangered Philippine native trees in the Tree Conservatory areas.  Their second trip to the river scheduled last April 30 did not push through due to administrative problems on their end but they have graciously continued to support the Tree Conservatory by donating funds for another 50 trees.  (Images in the slideshow above are from the Facebook page of Dis Co Astronaut.)

One officer in particular, Cadet Captain Patricia Anne Santos, have gone the extra mile and came back to our beloved river last November 18, 2015 to conduct her project which required some creative shots.  Here’s her collection- a truly fine set of work especially considering that the day was rainy:

Captain Pat even donated (from her own money)  several grass shears, clippers and pruning shears.  Cheers Pat!

Are you the one we need?

series B

Summer in Samar!! (Biodiversity Symposium, Insights from the HS Seniors)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAlliyah Claravall (Poster Presenter- Distribution of the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) in a Semi-Urban Landscape: A Mark-Recapture Study)

“Eye-opening and at the same time exciting is how I would describe my trip to Samar.  Not only did the sights amaze me but the Symposium itself increased my awareness about the current state of our environment.  It opened my eyes about how many endangered endemic species we have and the continuous degradation and destruction or their homes.  This made me a more vigilant protector of our Mother Earth.  Also, speaking and presenting our study in front of hundreds of veteran scientists is truly life-changing.  From my experience, I would proudly say that protecting our home is now my advocacy.  I do wish that more and more high school students get involved in the Biodiversity Conservation Society of the Philippines.  It is never too early to start change.”

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Gail Hernandez (Poster Presenter- Safe Guarding a Precious Heritage: Searching for Effective Water Quality Indicators for Small Freshwater Mountain Streams)

“When Sir Henry first asked us our class about the possibility of students attending the annual biodiversity conservation symposium to be held in Catarman, Samar, I immediately raised my hand to volunteer.  Although, honestly, I didn’t exactly know what I would be doing there.  Thus, on April 13, 2015, Monday, six students from our batch set out for our destination.  We had a long, drawn-out, 14-hour ride in a bus (from Cubao to Matnog, Sorsogon), a 3-hour ride in a Roll-On-Roll-Off (RORO) ferry boat (from Matnog, Sorsogon in Luzon to Allen, Samar in the Visayas) and a 1-hour ride in a bus once more from Allen to Catarman, Samar.  Though the ride was tiring, the hospitality of the place more than just made up for our travel.  The Symposium itself was truly welcoming when it came to the program and food.  And the University of Eastern Samar had a lot of sights to showcase the participants.  All throughout our stay, I truly had the best time of my life- chatting with fellow students and prestigious researchers and conservationists.  During my poster presentation, I felt truly honored to be able to present and participate in the Symposium.  And when it has finally come to an end, we were sad to go but happy to have been part of a wonderful gathering of people who- in every sense of the word- are guardians of the Earth.

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Ackie Adeva (Oral Presenter- Factors Affecting Frog and Toad Diversity in Two Mountain Streams in the Antipolo/Taytay Area: Habitat Degradation, Invasive Species, and Climate Change)

“In Samar, the battle between heat and learning new things was so close that everyone wanted to jump in the ocean.  The feeling that you’re going to a Symposium and knowing that you’re going to present in front of scientists and professionals was very nerve-racking.  People there were so ready to learn new things and try to make a change for all of our biodiversity in the Philippines.  All of the key presenters know what to do, they just need people with the same passion to protect and save the environment.  I, for one, want to help them even if it’s just me sending a message to people of just something that I can do to contribute to the Biodiversity Conservation Society of the Philippines or the BCSP.”

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Mico Protacio and Abigail Resuma (Oral Presenters- Recreation Vs. Conservation: Resolving the Conflict Between Profit and Nature in Hotel and Resort Development Projects)

From Mico: “During my trip to Samar, I had mixed feelings of sheer nervousness and pure happiness because of the event we went to.  However, the starting day was pretty tiring because of the bus ride and RORO due to the sleepless times.  Thanks to the company that I had, the trip was kept very interesting and at times weird.  During my presentation, I was not nervous because I was really quiet during breakfast to keep my focus up and build my confidence.  Up until now, I still miss Samar but I wouldn’t want to go there anytime soon because of the very tiring adventure.  Next time, I would want to swim in the beach though and maybe go there for vacation.”

From Abigail: “The long hours of tiring bus rides and intense heat were all worth it because when we got to Samar, specifically in the University of Eastern Philippines, we were accommodated very well.  One of the things I really loved there was their food.  Their dishes were all so delicious that I ended up eating more than I usually do.  I am glad that I attended the BCSP Symposium because through the keynote speakers, Mr. Acosta and presenters, I was more enlightened about the urgent need to nurture our environment and conserve our own home’s (the Philippines’) biodiversity.  I value the chance given to me to be able to meet in person the famous authors my classmates and I have read about.  Going back home, I was excited to share my experiences and insights to inspire others and to bring awareness to them.  I brought home with me the thought that “I can someday be a tool for positive change.”

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Kaji Salvador (Oral Presenter – Lost and Found: Strengthening Ethnobotanical Knowledge in Antipolo/Taytay)

“At first I thought of not going to Samar anymore just because of the pressure of being a presenter but I knew it would be a fun experience and that I would regret it if I did not go.  Going to Samar was a life changing experience.  While in Samar, we felt nervous knowing we would present in front of 300 people but we also felt excited knowing we would go somewhere new.  When we arrived in Samar, we forgot about presenting for a while because of the wonderful scenery and the people that made us feel welcomed.  When it was my turn to present, I was nervous but also excited to get it over with.  There were interesting presentations that I was grateful to watch.”

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