Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taking the lead to green with Aboitiz Group, PBSP

Taking the lead to green with Aboitiz Group, PBSP
Cebu Daily News
October 27, 2010

Christian Ian Sy did not expect to start a Saturday full of firsts when he joined 554 members of the Aboitiz Group in planting 14,000 tree seedlings along the slopes of the Mananga Watershed and Forest Reserve.

What he did expect, though, was to plant on a plain and empty spot.

“I didn’t expect to plant in an actual forest. But when I came here in Tabunan for the first time, I felt excited and challenged because I finally saw one of Cebu’s forests,” Sy said.

With muddied hands and a satisfied smile, Sy thanked the company for allowing him to participate in the environmental project.

Sy is one of the delegates of the Aboitiz Future Leaders Summit who joined the group-wide reforestation activity of the Aboitiz Group last Oct. 16, along with the Visayan Electric Company (Veco) employees and the Race to Reduce runners.

The reforestation initiative was co-organized by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), which has been reforesting the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL) since 1989.

“Last year, the Aboitiz group made a commitment to plant a million trees. Since then, we've expanded our ambition to roll our intention into a program that would plant three million trees up to 2010,” Aboitiz and Company president and chief executive officer Erramon Aboitiz said.

The Aboitiz Group planted a total of 14,000 indigenous seedlings on 8.5 hectares located within the Veco Reforestation Park in Tabunan, Cebu City.

The reforestation project is part of PBSP's efforts to promote social development as an expression of the business sector's corporate social responsibility.

“This is one of the largest endeavors in environmental protection. And we know that we are large enough already that when we lead, others follow. So we are setting an example for others to follow,” PBSP Visayas chairman Jose Antonio Aboitiz said.

PBSP hopes that with more companies taking the lead in the conservation of the CCPL, the issue of water resources, biodiversity and poverty will be easily resolved in the next years.

“When we plant today, we are contributing to the quality of our oxygen and the air that we breathe, and we are guaranteeing some kind of better water supply for us city dwellers who abuse a lot of our resources,” PBSP's Cebu Hillyland Development Committee chairman Eileen Mangubat said.

For this year alone, PBSP garnered the participation of 3,723 volunteers from 99 institutions in reforesting 251.10 hectares. This has been the biggest reforestation caravan PBSP has organized to date.

“The very nice thing about the Cebu watersheds is that they are contiguous and that they are like the heart of the entire island. So consider this place a part of the lungs of the city, and also part of our insurance policy that we do not get typhoon Ondoy effects in Cebu,” Mangubat added.

PBSP's 2011 Cebu Hillylands Reforestation Caravan is scheduled to commence on the third Saturday of June next year.