BAGUIO CITY – (27 May 2021) – The Saleng festival and celebration of June as environment month was launched with the unfurling of calendar of activities by city officials during the city hall flag raising ceremonies last Monday.

In his message during the occasion, Mayor Benjamin Magalong pointed out the importance of constituents and community groups’ cooperation and commitment in caring for the environment. He emphasized that tree-planting and nurturing should be invested for next generation’s breathable air, potable water and a cleaner and comfortable environment.       

The mayor also rued the findings of a research that at least 52 hectares of trees were lost between 2014 to 2017. An urban forest master plan with CEPMO head Rhenan Diwas at helm was thus adopted, for implementation.

In consonance to the Saleng Festival theme, “Restoring Our Ecosystem-Together,” city-supported environmental activities shall be done on June 4, such as bamboo propagule planting at the Diplomat Heritage area. This is to provide additional foliage and mitigate air pollution in the area. Bamboo products shall also be showcased.         

Free emission testing shall be conducted at Harrison road near Burnham Park, on the same date. The activity is spearheaded by the Roadside Inspection Testing and Monitoring Team (RITMT), which for years monitors smoke-belchers on the roads. Violators are required to undergo maintenance procedures to ensure cleaner exhaust from their vehicle.

On June 5, a cycling for the environment from city hall grounds to Irisan Eco-Park happens where they arrive to a display of upcycled materials on site. A display of the upcycled materials is extended for two consecutive Sundays, June 6 and 13 in a selected venue along Session road.

A memorandum of agreement signing as to a joint project of the city and a Beetle Trap Project of the Watershed and Water Research Development and Extension Center (WWRDEC) shall be done on June 14 while on June 29, Jacaranda saplings are planted at Bayan Park, Aurora Hill.

A community tree planting to reforest the Sto. Tomas Reservoir happens on June 30.

A coordinated Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) Airshed anti-smoke belching task force operation is done in various places for the whole month of June.

Bonsai cultivators, carers and interested individuals are given a day, June 17 to share their knowledge and learn through demonstrations at the proposed bonsai garden at the Kennon road view deck. The special plants shall be displayed at People’s Park in July 16, 17 and 18, CEPMO Forester Floro Bastian said.

The project is part of the World day to combat desertification and drought, he added.

He also gave the rationale behind the celebration, which is compliance to the Environment Code where the months of June to September is set for tree planting season and it is mandatory for local government units to support events for the protection, preservation and rehabilitation of forests.

To strengthen cooperation for reforestation and caring for the environment, the institutionalization of the Saleng festival is also sought, Bastian said.     

Pine saplings shall also be planted at the Kennon road view deck, during the Bonsai demonstration activity.

On June 24, the tree cart parade takes place from upper Session road up to the people’s park. At least 10 participants were listed at the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO). A tree of life shall also be unveiled in the same occasion.

June 25 is National Arbor Day, where barangays with water sheds are venues for tree planting. Elder berry trees shall be planted at the Arboretum, along Leonard Wood road; and bamboo propagules in portions of Balili river.  

Other environment-caring activities done from June to September are tree planting of different sectors at the Forbes Park reservation, Busol and Buyog watersheds; cell phone photography contest; and ring weeding at the planting sites.

The celebration is extended up to September where a barangay clean-up drive is done along Sagudin-Balili river.

 Awards to environmentalists or urban forest carers and nurturers, dubbed as Green thumb plaques shall be handed over on September 27. – Julie G. Fianza with reports from CEPMO