"Ginto sa Dagta", a puppet show about the over-extraction of Almaciga resin and rampant wildlife hunting and trade, was among the centerpiece of the week-long celebration initiated by the local environmental officers. (Photo courtesy of City ENRO)

The City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) of Puerto Princesa has scheduled a week of environmental awareness activities at Robinsons Place Palawan, including the “Ginto Sa Dagta” almaciga resin gathering by the Batak.

Atty. Carlo B. Gomez, City ENRO chief, who led the ceremonial ribbon cutting on Monday, emphasized the importance of the forest in maintaining life and biodiversity, food security, and wildlife habitat.

The activities include exhibit display, puppet show, painting contest, and games slated from March 21-25. They are in line with the celebration of the International Day of the Forest on March 21, and World Water Day on March 22.

The week-long environmental activities will run from March 21 to 25 at the Robinson’s Place Palawan activity center. (Photo courtesy of City ENRO)

The event began with a puppet presentation called “Ginto sa Dagta,” which featured the narrative of two children from the Batak community in CNCH, known locally as “puyos,” who confronted an issue with over-extraction of almaciga resin, a non-timber forest product, and uncontrolled wildlife hunting and trade.

Ginto sa Dagta (Gold in Tree Sap) underlines that the extremely prized resin collected from the almaciga tree is referred to as gold. Almaciga (Agathis philippinensis) is a timber species that is native to each province in the country. It grows in Palawan’s mountainous forests.

The actors that comprise the marketing system for Almaciga resin in Palawan include the tappers, kapatas, ahente, concessionaires, traders, manufacturers, end-users, and importers.

The kapatas normally pays the gatherers P22 per kilo of Almaciga resin. According to the Value Chain Study for Almaciga resin completed in 2013 by the Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP) Task Force, a non-governmental organization, tappers sell the resins to ahente or directly to concessionaires and dealers or to whoever will offer a more competitive price.

The study said that the concessionaires will sell the resin at P32 per kilo to provincial traders, while provincial traders will sell it to the national traders at P40-P60 per kilo price, while exporters sell it at P90 per kilo.

An article published by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) said that the almaciga resin which is a non-timber forest product—is the world-renowned Manila copal— which is used in manufacturing varnishes, lacquer, soap, paint, printing inks, linoleum, shoe polish, floor wax, plastic, water proofing materials, paper sizing, and other products.

Several studies conducted by scientists and trainings to local communities has been conducted to help prevent the extinction of almaciga trees in Palawan to improve their resin harvesting methods. As a result, the population of almaciga tree is expected to increase.

In its message during the International Day of the Forest, the City ENRO said that the “forest play a vital role in sustaining life and biodiversity, food security and habitat for wildlife and many more.”

“Let us continue to promote our stand to protect, to conserve and to preserve our forests here in Puerto Princesa,” the message reads.

Also present during the event were PENRO officer Felizardo Cayatoc and CENRO officer Pedro Velasco of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), forester Jovic Fabello of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS), and Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) Tandikan project officer Edilberto Magpayo. Also present were representatives from AB Conservation, a non-government organization and children from Jesus Touch Church.