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Residents of eight northern barangays of Puerto Princesa today participated in the revival of the city government’s annual tree planting activity dubbed as “Pista Y ang Kagueban.”

The City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) identified the eight barangays of Langogan, Binduyan, Concepcion, Tanabag, San Rafael, Babuyan, Maoyon, and Lucbuan as its target this year to restore their forestlands, which had been severely damaged by Typhoon Odette that hit Palawan in December last year.

At the break of dawn, residents and other participants led by their barangay officials simultaneously planted seedlings of different tree species in their respective planting areas. Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron, Vice Mayor Nancy Socrates, and other city government officials led the ceremonial tree planting in Brgy. San Rafael where a short program was held afterward.

Assistant City ENRO chief Angel Madriñan said they prepared a total of 10,000 seedlings to be planted in the eight barangays including certain portions of the Puerto Princesa Underground River.

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Notably absent during the activity was the fanfare that had characterized previous events, with performances to entertain volunteers at the planting sites traditionally held around the city’s main watershed in Brgy. Irawan.

Bayron said while this year’s Pista was not as lively compared to the previous events, it is just as equally meaningful as it aims to restore the forests in the identified barangays.

“Ang aking pagkakatanda, ito ang ika-29 na Pista Y ang Kagueban na sinimulan noon ng Palawan Integrated Area Development Project Office (PIADPO), at sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon noong 1993, nag-take over ang pamahalaang lungsod ng Puerto Princesa, at napalaki natin yung Pista Y ang Kagueban na naging tradisyon hanggang noong 2019,” Bayron said.

“Ito ngayon ay makakatulong na makapigil ng erosion at iba pang maliliit na landslide. At maliban doon, makakabawas din ng init ng panahon, at maiiwasan ang flashflood. Yun ang isang mahalagang rason kung bakit kahit paano bigla-bigla lang ito at medyo malalayo yung walong barangay na ginaganapan natin nitong Pista ay nandito yung mga kababayan natin para makiisa at muli, magtanim ng punong kahoy,” he added.

Bayron said he is considering holding the succeeding events in the remote barangays.

“Ngayong nasubukan natin na puwede naman pala dito sa malayo, dahil itong mga barangay na ito ang masyadong naapektuhan ng bagyong Odette, siguro dito lang muna tayo. At yung west coast (barangays) na naapektuhan, baka pwedeng trabahuhin na rin natin,” he said.

The Pista Y ang Kagueban was initiated by the PIADPO as an ordinary tree planting activity in the mountains of Brgy. Irawan back in 1991. Two years later, the city government took over the activity. The planting site was transferred to the mountains of Sitio Magarwak in Brgy. Sta. Lourdes for several years then returned to Irawan. In 2019, the activity was held in the watershed of Brgy. Montible.

The event was put on hold for two years when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.

To date, more than 2 million trees have been planted at different sites.

“Siyempre hindi naman lahat mabubuhay, ipagpalagay natin na ang mabubuhay ay 60 percent, e di meron tayong 1,200,000 trees na nabuhay at lumaki,” Bayron said.

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