Tungtong River Conservation Project

an environmental advocacy of the Holistic Education and Development Center

Category: Tree Conservatory (Page 1 of 2)

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.


Roses are red, violets are blue and ipil flowers say “We love you!” (Water color by Teacher Emma,

Teacher Emm13461344_10206562277603221_397878716_oa Gutierrez, foundress of TRCP’s host school (HEDCen-TLFH), is a masterful water color artist and her recent work shown at left attests to this.  She painted blooms of young Ipil (Intsia bijuga) trees planted by baristas of a well-known coffee shop last 2011.  The Ipil trees have been flowering for the past two years but this has been the first artistic rendition of them.  She has graciously allowed use of this painting as part of the promotional materials distributed during the Makati Block Party last July 3.

I am pretty sure that if they were to speak, these flowers would definitely say “We love you!” to the people who have been working so hard at their conservation.  Cheers to the 60 baristas who helped us to establish TRCP’s Tree Conservatory!

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!






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!




One of the Shorea almon saplings (critically endangered Philippine endemic dipterocarp)  in the Tree Conservatory was trampled (we are not sure by whom or what since the prints were washed out by a heavy rain).  We found the sapling in bad shape- the entire stem was flat to the ground and the roots nearly sticking out.  We supported the stem with straw rope and bamboo stakes.  For the roots, we made a ‘soil brace’ from a sawed-off segment of a plastic bottle (in this case, a 1.5 mL Pepsi).  We did not replant the sapling for fear of killing it outright.  If anyone out there knows a better way, do let us know.


Nature's vegetarians


The following photos were taken during a routine Tree Conservatory work last December 18, 2013.  Can anyone out there ID these organisms? or even advise us if they are known to be too much of an herbivore (pest-like)?

The first set below shows conical leaf remains from mabolo or kamagong (Diospyros blancoi).  The herbivore was no longer present at the time but may have a very species-specific diet.  Only kamagong leaves were munched in spite of having several saplings of Shorea almon nearby.

The next set of photos features a sapling of Shorea guijo and its riddled leaves.  Fortunately, it seems that the tree is well able to cope with the demand.  Again, species-specificity seems to be in evidence since nearby saplings were un-munched.

Such species-specific interaction makes me inclined to think of butterflies and moth larvae but since I am not an entomologist, I cannot be certain.  Can anyone out there shed light on this matter?

Volunteers for Nature

The Tungtong River Conservation Project is student-centered and this is never more evident than when students spend their free time helping out in TRCP projects.  I’d like to laud the efforts of the people shown here who have given off themselves in helping to restore the Tungtong River watershed’s riparian (forest) ecosystem.

Shown below are pictures of Shorea almon, a critically endangered dipterocarp endemic to the Philippines.

Those interested in volunteering for TRCP projects may contact the coordinator, Mr. Henry Calilung at 0927-3560063; 0933-4193873 or send an email to hgc_hedcen@yahoo.com.  Groups of volunteers usually go out on Saturday mornings but it is best to contact us first before showing up so work can be duly planned.

Spreading the Eco-Gospel

The Tungtong River Conservation Project Coordinator, Henry Calilung, gave a talk cum tree planting activity to a group of pre-schoolers at the Mano Amiga Academy in the Habitat for Humanity compound in Taguig City, Metro Manila last March 1, 2012.  He was invited by the Global Responsibility Head for Rustan’s Coffee Philippines, Ms. Zee Perez and by the Mano Amiga Development Director, Ms. Lyn Pinugu.

Mr. Calilung, or Sir H, talked about the state of the Philippine environment and how each Filipino, from the youngest to the oldest, the poorest to the richest, is not exempt from conservation work.

As a finale and application of the lesson, Sir H, Ms. Zee, Ms. Lynn, and Sir Mark (a Mano Amiga volunteer) guided the pre-schoolers in the planting of three saplings of Apitong (Dipterocarpus grandiflora), a critically endangered Philippine native tree.

One of TRCP’s thrusts is to spread the eco-gospel, to call for a personal commitment to change one’s lifestyle and sustainably use our vanishing resources.  With each visit and extension work, we hope to gather enough young minds to form a critical mass of Filipino youth dedicated to the restoration and conservation of the Philippine environment- from backyard streams to mountain heights.  For, in the final analysis, the youth will inherit this Earth- or what’s left of it.

Here are pictures of the event with comments lifted verbatim from the facebook post of Ms. Zee.

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To learn more about Mano Amiga, mouse over to their blogspot or their facebook page.

HEDCen Highschool students plant 60 trees

HEDCen highschool students (Cassie Alleje; Lupe Carranza; Aira Dy Guaso; Luigi Fernandez; Ria and Jianne Garcia; Jay Loyola; Franco Maniago; Nicole Salvador; Rajah Santos; and Arielle, Vincent and Jasmine Valera) participate in a Tree Planting activity organized by the Soroptomist International (SI) of Antipolo last Sunday, August 28, 2011 from 730AM to 930AM.

60 mahogany saplings were planted round the perimeter of the soon-to-be Beverly Hills Park and Playground in Pascua Drive.

This effort to increase the tree cover of our community will surely have positive impacts on the resident wildlife of the Tungtong River watershed especially since the tree planting site is close to the source of the river in 5th avenue.

To those who attended, you rock!  And to those who missed it, see you next time!  (There’s another pro-environment activity being organized this time by the local barangay officials.  It’s a river clean-up in the Tikling area on the 11th of September.  Details will be announced soon.)

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