November 2, 2021 – The Department of Education (DepEd) has recently called for the protection of heritage trees in public schools and promotion of its educational and historical values in the 64th episode of “Stories for a Better Normal: Philippines’ Heritage Trees in Schools.”

“It is always a good opportunity for DepEd and for us educators to bring environmental education to homes and communities. Our country has been blessed with enormous biodiversity, and our heritage trees are one of our national treasures. We must appreciate and teach our young generation on how to further protect it,” Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said.

Bureau of Learner Support Services – Youth Formation Division (BLSS-YFD) Chief Adolf P. Aguilar shared the importance of environmental education and the ways DepEd spreads the concept of biodiversity to the youth in times of pandemic.

“Kaya ang YES-O, National Greening Program (NGP) namin, Gulayan sa Paaralan sa DepEd, ay dito na namin dinadala ang advocacy at pag-create ng mga immediate actions for the environment. Ang YFD ay patuloy lamang sa pag-promote ng mga advocacies na ito para sa kalikasan,” Aguilar said.

BLSS-YFD also presented the NGP and the recently conducted ‘Search for Heritage Trees in Public Schools,’ a program that aims to revive the accounting and inventory of heritage trees in all public schools nationwide to intensify the preservation of the country’s biodiversity.

Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del B. Pascua spearheaded the search to protect centennial trees that serve as landmarks of schools.

Guest teachers Jenelyn Alberto of Kaligayahan Elementary School, Nolito Roque Alvarez of Alabang Elementary School, Mr. Rodolfo Cardinez Jr. of Carcarmay Elementary School, and Freida Cawaling of Albasan Elementary School unveiled their schools’ efforts in protecting and preserving their century-old native trees, as well as their significance in the lives of students, teachers, and themselves personally.

Alberto stressed the value of letting the younger generation experience the benefits of having trees, “Iba pa rin ‘yung first-hand na nae-experience nila kasi mas magiging malalim ang appreciation nila. Ipinapakita namin ‘yung historical significance ng puno at kung gaano kaganda at kabuti na mayroon pa ring naiiwan na mga ganitong puno sa paligid natin despite of the development and economic improvement natin. Sana po ay patuloy tayong umunlad pero huwag nating pabayaan ang kalikasan.”

The online discussion was organized in partnership with the Office of Deputy Speaker Legarda and the Climate Change Commission, with support from the Department of Education, Philippine Information Agency, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, The Climate Reality Project-Philippines and Mother Earth Foundation.