Catholic Church leads IP tree planting on Mantalingahan

Bishop Socrates Mesiona (left), vicar of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa City, joins Pala’wan tribe member Manuel Tulok in planting endemic trees on Mount Mantalingahan in southern Palawan. (Photo courtesy of AVPPC)

The Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa City (AVPPC) recently led a group of Pala’wan indigenous peoples (IP) in the planting of around 2,000 tree seedlings in two villages in Brooke’s Point that form part of the Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL).

The two-day activity on November 19-20 was part of the Vicariate’s program to plant 10,000 trees in response to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ (Praise be to you) on “caring for our common home,” said Bishop Socrates Mesiona, apostolic vicar of the AVPPC.

Pope Francis’ circular calls for a swift and unified global action against consumerism and irresponsible development, environmental degradation, and global warming.”

The tree planting activities were done in the upland villages of Mainit and Aribungos which are nestled in the MMPL that covers an estimated 120,457 hectares of land.

“Environmental efforts must come not only from the environmentalists, but from all of us, the Church, the locals, the IPs,” Mesiona said Thursday.

He said the planting of endemic trees started in August this year under the Plant-A-Tree-Program, which gives P10 as incentive to the IPs for every tree they plant.

Pala’wan IP community leader Joselito Lindaman appreciates the opportunity to help in the Catholic Church’s greening program because the incentive helps bring food on their tables.

“May sigurado na po kaming pambili ng bigas, pang-ulam,” Lindaman said, stressing the care incentive is enough to prevent them from resorting to illegal means to support their families.

All target planting areas are in ancestral domains, and in the MMPL that is awaiting declaration as a World Heritage Site.

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