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By:Fr. Benigno P. Beltran, SVD

Dear Prof. Cesar Torres, James and Romy,

This is in answer to your query as to what we can do so that Filipinos abroad will not perpetually be raising funds to help people whose farms and homes are devastated by supertyphoons. I was stranded in Hoboken, NJ during supertyphoon Sandy for three days, and it was not easy using candles and eating left-overs. How much more terrible would be the misery of those visited by Pablo in Mindanao.

Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig is an environmental group of young performers from Smokey Mountain. They have been designated by the Catholic Bishops` Conference of the Philippines as Ambassadors for Peace and Environment for what they are doing to help mitigate climate change and prevent disastrous floods. The profile of Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig is attached for further details. Apart from raising environmental consciousness of people around the world through their songs and dances, and showcasing the riches of Filipino culture, the children from the former garbage dump are engaged in concrete activities to mitigate the dire effects of global warming.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through a stewardship agreement, has given 135 hectares to the group to reforest the denuded area. Pictures show the young people from Smokey Mountain as they climbed up Mt. Ayaas in Montalban to plant trees, together with 400 soldiers and their relatives, and in a boodle fight with them afterwards. There is a picture of the area in the mountain burned to the ground, including the few thousand trees the kids have planted because of charcoal-making and kaingin farming at the other side (privately owned property). At the foot of the mountain, called Mt. Ayaas where the area is situated, is the Puray River which connects to Marikina River. The rainwater from the area helped flood vast areas during Typhoon Ondoy and the recent Habagat. If the area is not reforested, there will be more devastation to come, like that shown in the last two pictures.

Aside from being burned during the kaingin period in the area, most of the seedlings we brought suffered trauma and the mortality rate was very high. If we put up a seedling nursery, the saplings will already be acclimatized and will not suffer trauma when brought up the mountain (a hike of an hour and a half from the main road) by the volunteer reforesters. We will do intercropping of root crops between the planted tress to ensure biodiversity and sustainability through our "Climate Change and Food Security" program, and also to supply naturally-grown products to special children and their parents. We are starting to train the Dumagats, the indigenous people living in the area, to use Smart`s Infoboard to facilitate the marketing of naturally grown products in the area by the Dumagats. They have already started to sell their produce in Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish where I am currently assigned. As soon as the firewall and the seedling nursery are in place, we will invite students and youth from the parishes to plant trees in Mt. Ayaas. We will also do intercropping and plant root crops between the seedlings for food security. The Dumagats of Montalban recently received their certificate of ancestral domain title for 19,000 hectares and we have been meeting with their chieftains to help them increase production of organic products and reforest the sloping parts of their territory through the Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration method. These projects are under the umbrella of "Climate Change and Food Security" of the UN.

Hundreds of young people from Japan and Taiwan have visited the Children of Mother Earth and helped plant trees in Mt. Ayaas. We hope to put up an inn or hostel at the bottom of the mountain because there is a waterfall there. It will be a Dumagat village, using their indigenous type of houses, with the members of the tribe taking care of the management of the restaurant and acting as guides for tourists wishing to plant more trees and trek up the mountains of Sierra Madre. Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig also send themselves to school and 300 other young people from Smokey Mountain and among the Dumagats of Mt. Ayaas and help in the feeding program for 500 Day Care pupils in Smokey Mountain through the funds they raise from their environmental concerts.

I came back last month from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janiero last June. I had several discussions with our partners regarding the mitigation of climate change through reforestation. World Vision would like to partner with us using their Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration method which had reforested several million hectares in Africa.

We are busy now in fixing the boundaries between the watershed and the alienable and disposable land beside the area DENR has allotted to Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig. We would also like to create a firewall bamboo trees 20 meters wide across the whole length of the area as soon as the boundaries have been fixed.

Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig have been invited to come to the Bay Area by the Christian Laymen Church of Oakland to raise consciousness about the real danger of the human race perishing from the face of the earth due to its greed and stupidity, and invite every person of good will to help them plant millions of trees in the mountains around Metromanila.

Merry Christmas! God`s peace and blessings this Yuletide season!

Yours in the Stewardship of Creation and Care for the Earth,

Fr. Benigno P. Beltran, SVD
Executive Director
Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig

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