The Blue Collar Initiative (BCI) — Caring for the the Earth, Promoting Livelihood, Reliving Sustainable Gardening Traditions The Blue Collar Initiative (BCI) is an effort to promote environmental livelihood and conservation through enterprises that promote the FORESTATION AND LIVELIHOOD YOUTH MOVEMENT (FLIYM) It starts from the ranks of young volunteers who are into earth care–especially on tree planting safe food production. It will be a movement EMPOWERED by the YOUTH. One that will not only ensure REFORESTATION but also provide LIVELIHOOD. As the region, in particular, and the nation, in general comes into grips with the stark negative environmental realities, it is time for the YOUTH to make their mark, and not only walk their talk. That change must come from them. The mission of the FLIYM is to empower young people to take responsibility for the environmental and livelihood well-being of their communities. they have entrusted it too long to the older generation and look what it brought them? The vision is to bridge communication across culture, region, education, and socio-economic backgrounds through collaboration on ecologically and socially responsible environmental enterprises for the Cordillera region. It will be done through sustainable leadership training and the development of for-profit social enterprises funded through microfinancing and resource-sharing. To be run by the Cordillera Ecological Center other wise know as PINE TREE (Project Initiating Employment and Education), it will have three main projects: 1) Forestation-sustainable agriculture home-based industries that will train youth in sustainable agriculture. They will practice traditional home gardens and plant trees in agricultural areas across in the Cordillera region to arrest soil erosion, improve soil and plant crops to rejuvenate the Cordillera region’s agricultural economy and environment. 2) A hands-on school where students can study regardless of their financial background, that incorporates human values and leadership into its fabric. 3) A market conduit to promote the trainees products so that these can be known and sold (agricultural and artisanal), to stimulate the local economy crowded out by excess importation. Join us. Write to pinetreephill@gmail.com to know the first class that will be run.

Homegarden developed by author and director of the Cordillera Ecological Center

The Blue Collar Initiative (BCI)

— Caring for the the Earth, Promoting Livelihood, Reliving Sustainable Gardening Traditions

The Blue Collar Initiative (BCI) is an effort to promote environmental livelihood and conservation through enterprises that promote the FORESTATION AND LIVELIHOOD YOUTH MOVEMENT (FLIYM)

It starts from the ranks of young volunteers who are into earth care–especially on tree planting safe food production. It will be a movement EMPOWERED by the YOUTH. One that will not only ensure REFORESTATION but also provide LIVELIHOOD.

As the region, in particular, and the nation, in general comes into grips with the stark negative environmental realities, it is time for the YOUTH to make their mark, and not only walk their talk. That change must come from them.

The mission of the FLIYM is to empower young people to take responsibility for the environmental and livelihood well-being of their communities. they have entrusted it too long to the older generation and look what it brought them?

The vision is to bridge communication across culture, region, education, and socio-economic backgrounds through collaboration on ecologically and socially responsible environmental enterprises for the Cordillera region. It will be done through sustainable leadership training and the development of for-profit social enterprises funded through microfinancing and resource-sharing.

To be run by the Cordillera Ecological Center other wise know as PINE TREE (Project Initiating Employment and Education), it will have three main projects:

1) Forestation-sustainable agriculture home-based industries that will train youth in sustainable agriculture. They will practice traditional home gardens and plant trees in agricultural areas across in the Cordillera region to arrest soil erosion, improve soil and plant crops to rejuvenate the Cordillera region’s agricultural economy and environment.

2) A hands-on school where students can study regardless of their financial background, that incorporates human values and leadership into its fabric.

3) A market conduit to promote the trainees products so that these can be known and sold (agricultural and artisanal), to stimulate the local economy crowded out by excess importation.

Join us. Write to pinetreephill@gmail.com to know the first class that will be run.

The Blue Collar Initiative (BCI) is an effort to promote environmental livelihood and conservation through enterprises that promote the FORESTATION AND LIVELIHOOD YOUTH MOVEMENT (FLIYM)

It starts from the ranks of young volunteers who are into earth care–especially on tree planting safe food production. It will be a movement EMPOWERED by the YOUTH. One that will not only ensure REFORESTATION but also provide LIVELIHOOD.

As the region, in particular, and the nation, in general comes into grips with the stark negative environmental realities, it is time for the YOUTH to make their mark, and not only walk their talk. That change must come from them.

The mission of the FLIYM is to empower young people to take responsibility for the environmental and livelihood well-being of their communities. they have entrusted it too long to the older generation and look what it brought them?

The vision is to bridge communication across culture, region, education, and socio-economic backgrounds through collaboration on ecologically and socially responsible environmental enterprises for the Cordillera region. It will be done through sustainable leadership training and the development of for-profit social enterprises funded through microfinancing and resource-sharing.

To be run by the Cordillera Ecological Center other wise know as PINE TREE (Project Initiating Employment and Education), it will have three main projects:

1) Forestation-sustainable agriculture home-based industries that will train youth in sustainable agriculture. They will practice traditional home gardens and plant trees in agricultural areas across in the Cordillera region to arrest soil erosion, improve soil and plant crops to rejuvenate the Cordillera region’s agricultural economy and environment.

2) A hands-on school where students can study regardless of their financial background, that incorporates human values and leadership into its fabric.

3) A market conduit to promote the trainees products so that these can be known and sold (agricultural and artisanal), to stimulate the local economy crowded out by excess importation.

Join us. Write to pinetreephill@gmail.com to know the first class that will be run. Please visit links:

https://www.facebook.com/BlueCollarInitiative

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Atreeaday/

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Break of Day… By Michael A. Bengwayan, Ph. D

  • Break of Day…     By Michael A. Bengwayan, Ph D

     

    BREAK OF DAY

     

    There is nothing more wondrous, more miraculous and mysterious than watching the break of day. I wake up refreshed, my troubles forgotten temporarily, body renewed, strength regained. I have a fresh mind hopeful for a fresh start. But to glance at the brightening day, slowly pushing off darkness to the twilight zone can instill that much needed push to face the world. I glance at the first sunbeams stealing through the filtering pine needles, brightening every leaf until the unseen forest floor.

     

    The once-shrouded tree shadows dance and spring to life as  gentle sun rays erupt and blanket the horizon. I sit and watch beauty,  mystery,  miracle at its best.

     

    Every minute fresh green leaves become golden; pink, red and yellow flowers glisten in carpet display as soft sunlight touches the dew that slept overnight. Birds awaken and a chorus begins..bees and butterflies all in motion, seemingly unknowing where to go or what to do.

     

    The lemon trees heavy with fruits kiss the ground in sweet praise and surrender as Rhode Island Red roosters’ crow puncture the air. This is morning breaking. The beginning of another promise. There are shades of rainbow colors all over the ground wanting to be touched.

     

    I glance my daughters’  rooms, slowly being flooded by sunlight and their sleepy heads still on pillows unmindful of the magnificence nor the consequences of being late –in school, at work.  I too forget that I am cooking.

     

    Above all the beauty, a pitcher’s toss away stood King Kong, king of Longlong, peering at me through the sunlight with questioning eyes.

     

    It is this special and one of a kind phenomenon that happens daily in my terrace view and nothing else can come close to comparison. Yet every day seems better, each sight more beautiful, each moment more priceless.

     

    The sun’s embracing warmth against the nippy morning air, the cool pine-scented breeze  and sky painted by the Master Painter Himself are unmatched.

     

    Kings will pay the most expensive ransom for such a scene. Poets will dream to put it in their minds and words..

     

    And it is just there for me everyday. Free. For all my taking.

Know Your Past by Michael A. Bengwayan

Know Your Past
By Michael A. Bengwayan Ph. D

My daughter Frances once asked ‘Who are we Pa?” I paused and looked at her. I wanted to repeat what was told to me decades ago by my great grandma. But I dared not. We were the people of the rich valleys, lush and thick forests; of the clear and prestine waters. We were once true to The Way.

But then everything changed. Slowly, outsiders came. A giant called “guvmint”came. Followed by others with forked tongues. Without hesitation, these took the lands. They had papers showing they own the lands. Lands that own us. Some of us were forced out to give up the lands forever—the valleys, homes and mountains. In (Ambuklao) Bokod, (Binga) Itogon, Mankayan, Boneng, Tublay, Tuba, the people were forced to move to the setting sun, leaving a trail of tears. Not that our brothers and sister Ibalois cried when they were forced out. But the trail spoke of the sorrows of those who stood and walked in that trail.

All they did not leave though. Some, skilled in the ways of the mountains, fled back into the bosoms of the hollows and lived there. They farmed on the mountains, hunted, set up traps, planted and dug sweetroot from the ground. They fished with their hands under the banks of the cold creeks, and moved as silent as shadows. A people who were there but not seen nor heard.

In this rich Benguetland, slowly but surely as if evilly-designed, people called “poltishuns” and some called “eduketed” came. They did not love the freedom of the mountains and pines. They lusted for land and profit. They were bigger than the ogre “guvmint”. With their arrival, the century of our early Ibalois started to die. The time of surviving became more depressing.

I looked at my daughter. In her blood runs the strength and courage of the once-warring and head-hunting Bontoc warriors; her heart the peaceful, kind, patient and humble heart of the Ibalois; and the perseverance of the Ibanags. There would be a new century for them. There would be a time for blood, fighting and death. It will be a new world. But she will be fighting different enemies. Like here sister Phyllis before her, she has chosen to fight diseases that will plague mankind. Like her elder sister Grail who is fighting ignorance by teaching so that our people will not be cheated by the giant “guvmint”. Like her sister Abigail much ahead of her who is fighting for human rights. And; like her brother Michael Jr. ahead of her who is fighting retrogress using science and technology.

I looked far out in the mountains beyond our home, towards the west. The sun was setting, the tree spirits were rising. You couldn’t tell if it was the wind that whispered as it swooshed across the bent pines. I walked out of sight of the rims of the mountain Frances a step behind. I could feel the past spirits on the talking fingers of the trees. The sun was setting, I heard a mourning crow just above. My ancestors lived fully in these hills. But the hills will not be here long. Just a sight away, I could see destruction by a housing company called Go—-en as its machines plowed the land under unmindful of death it is causing.

Slowly we walked home in silence. Frances gripping my hand.Image

Hearing the Pine Trees By Michael A. Bengwayan, Ph. D

Hearing the Pine Trees
By Michael A. Bengwayan, Ph. D

I know there are people who talk to plants. I am one of them. I talk to my vegetables and fruit trees. But some people even play music for them. I play my music loud when I’m alone—folk, rock and ballad but more seasoned gardeners tell me plants love and classical best. Not that it is supposed to be popular but its got that dragging, haunting sound, if you don’t mind. Sounds crazy. But there’s a theory that plants feel pain and pleasure, just like us. And because soothing sounds make them happy, they thrive.
There’s much truth to that. I and million others more may like be just like plants. I’ve never been much of a talker. I’m better at listening.
And sometimes it seems the plants are telling me all kinds of things in their strange, silent, cryptic way. When my Floridian morning glories start to bloom, I know it’s saying that the rains are over. When the touch me not flowers opens languidly, they are signaling: ‘Hey, gimme me look for once, you human. Aren’t we beautiful! Notice our colors. Observe the delicate formation of my petals.”
And, when the yellow hibiscus folds its petals to die at the end of each day, in sign language it’s saying: ‘Goodbye cruel world’. Or when the dama de noches start perfuming the night their petals wide and glowing in the moonlight, isn’t it mocking late home-goers to sleep or get the fancy of the bogeyman?
Yes, it feels like that.
But conifers like pine trees are very much different. Although they do have flowers, no one notices or gives a hoot. The flowers emit resinous fragrance that incenses the cool nippy air, but who the heck cares. Even as their fragrance is mysterious as it staves off pesky insects, it won’t merit any look. Even if the oxygen it releases through the fine sieved tubes of its needles cleanses the dirt we put on air, dang…. So what.
Conifers emit scents rich in e-pinene and myrcene, two chemicals that are important in cleasning smog particulate. These are negatively bonded, as such they cling to ions with the opposite charge like CO2 and SO2, bring these to the ground—thereby freeing the air of dangerous substances. It has traces of dihydroterpese which exude in resinous substances, repelling pesky insects. Pine tree flowers emit dark, hypnotic fragrances exuded by resin. When I planted near homes, they always provide a soft, warm aromatic and welcoming smell. In my farm in Tublay that has more than 2,000 pine trees, the air is always fresh, clean and light where the breeze exudes in bursting flow of energetic natural scent.
It took me some time to understand trees and the powerful significance it has over the human species.. I got the signals all correct. But other’s don’t. They wish the opposite. Once I stood in the middle of a storm and promised all pine trees they will be recognized. I made good to that promise. I held the first Cordillera Pine Tree Festival attended and seen by almost 5,000 human beings in Dec. 17 – 18, 2011. . The trees got their recognition When I think of what other people like the Sys of Shoe Mart Dev’t Corp (SMCD) intends to do with trees, I wished they all start relearning life. I breathe deeply hoping for a signal for these cruel and evil people to start learning themselves.
This year the rainy days will continue through October. As a result the trees will be tested once more. All sorts of rain and windforce will come their way, but they will stand and survive. But perhaps the 133 trees left at Luneta Hill will face a more graver test. Again the Sys will try to cut them, as it tried with 49 earlier. Even as I think of it I hear the trees crying frantically for help—to the mayor, the congressman, the city council and to their very protector—DENR. But the trees are late. The humans meant to guard them can’t hear them.
I can.
I think I heard them sigh.

Baguio City Officials Should Instead Endorse All City Trees As Protected Carbon Sinks By Michael A. Bengwayan

Baguio City Officials Should Instead Endorse All City Trees As Protected Carbon Sinks
By Michael A. Bengwayan

The City government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) can take a step in the right direction by promulgating that all trees in the city, are “protected carbon sinks”.

This is in view of a World Bank announcement that the city has one of the highest pollution levels in the country and that of a University of the Philippines research with Japanese government partners.

The city officials must realize that cities can be of surprising help in soaking up carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas. Urban areas are absent in most calculations of “sinks” where vegetation soaks up CO2 naturally thanks to photosynthesis.

It can appoint capable people and groups to measure the carbon-absorbing capacity of its parks, domestic gardens, abandoned industrial land, golf courses, school playing fields, road verges and river banks.

Tons of carbon were locked up these areas as studies in other countries show annual emissions of cars are likewise important to be calculated. Urban lands’ biological carbon density should not be assumed to be zero.

There is a substantial pool of carbon locked away in the vegetation within a city and the bigger establishments are, like SM, the more carbon footprint they leave. Urban “sinks” are not by themselves a solution to the billions of tonnes of carbon emitted globally but can help mitigate their impact, especially if gardeners grow trees, which absorb far more CO2 than grass and shrubs,

It is is highly proven that if more trees are planted in urban areas for their carbon storage value, they must be the right kind of tree planted in the right place so that they have a long, productive lifespan, and when trees die they should be replaced. This is very true to our own Pinus insularis or Benguet pine tree. City officials must be educated to understand this fact.

Political leaders need to be environmentally educated. For instance, they should know and appreciate that trees have an additional benefit of lowering the temperature locally, providing shade. In contrast, asphalt roads and buildings store solar radiation during the day, encouraging the creation of “urban heat islands” that can add dangerously to the effect of heatwaves on human health./Michael Michael A. Bengwayan

Thor’s Thunder A Reminder By Michael A. Bengwayan

 

Thor’s Thunder  A Reminder

By Michael A. Bengwayan

 

 

Thor’s Thunder  A reminder

By Michael A. Bengwayan

 

A few seconds before dead of the night, it came. Lightnings on the east followed by rolling thunder like God playing bowling. The sky trembled, the world moved and pandemonium started to break loose. the typhoon’s shafts of lightning and roars of thunder have come. The stormy season is here. And will be for a long time.  

 

I looked out, nay peered, is most likely. Cold pulses of air stab through the thick blanket of humidity that lays on this region like a wet feather mattress. Even on the northwest side of this mountain I can see moist air being lifted by sinking cold air that forces the the dank atmosphere skyward. The battle between these two atmospheres creates static and I can feel the hair standing up on my arm as if I’d just seen a ghost. There will be a thunderstorm today no doubt; but there are unanswered questions. Where? When? How bad?

King Kong , the king of Longlong, my five year old German Shepherd is nervous, and hides in my office. My cat Cooper stands on the deck with his nose in the air. It seems he senses danger. It took me years to learn the recipe for a strong storm but dogs recognize the necessary ingredients long before humans know what is going on.

I wander out onto our deck and look northwest. The sky is dark and angry. PAGASA National Weather Service has issued a storm watch for the Cordillera country but I  often laugh at how the weather forecasters  issue warnings. It is as if they expect a storm to respect a political boundary; this is human nonsense at its greatest proportion. The dark clouds have long spiral tails that hang down. What I really am witnessing is all of the warm moisture being lifted into the clouds. The speed of the cloud movement, from west to east, is astounding. The clouds are no longer separate. The delineation from one condensed mass of moisture to another has been smudged into a carpet of black and gray.

I watch mashed black clouds with menacing tails rush east. The skies open up. Rain falls like there is no tomorrow. I am reminded of the the typhoons tornadoes that struck an area half a mile from me called Kibungan village almost exactly a year ago. They stayed on the ground for forty miles; F-4′s that blew away the past, present, and future of hundreds of people. A wide swath of destruction that will be evident for a generation was formed in moments; homes lost, lives dashed, dreams sent to the middle of the China Sea. Hopefully not today, not this time. Lightning careens down and cracks open the earth. Thunder pounds this part of the planet with the force of ancient Gods. Winds force the heavy rain horizontally. Our house lights flicker and then they are gone. The only thing we can do is watch, listen, and take the storm into our hearts and minds. Absorbing a bad storm lessens the fright. Fear has no place here. We sit quietly. The storm pounds on and on.

.

It is almost July.. This changing of weather this time of year, from cool to warm to cool, is normal. There have been many storms like this. Perhaps thousands in my lifetime that I have endured. And each time I wonder what is in store. When the atmosphere feels dangerous we all stand alert.

 

I think back to my childhood. When I was very young and frightened by a storm my older sister would get in my bed at night when the thunder and lightning storms raged on and tell me that God was bowling. That used to make me laugh. I pictured a giant bowling alley, with ginormous pins, and gargantuan bowling balls being cast about making loud crashing noises. The image of God bowling was hilarious!

 

This series of storms has ebbs and flows. Cold fronts seem to come in waves, like the sea rolling to shore. With each wave there is another line of thunder boomers. The sky goes from gray to black to gray. The sound in the sky goes from quiet to loud to quiet. And even though the clock tells me it is still the afternoon the view out our windows is dark. Each bolt of lightning produces a strobe-like flash.

 

Since the days of my childhood I have counted the time between a flash of lighting and the sound of thunder. I count slowly, about once per second. Sound travels at 1126 feet per second. A count of five means the storm is roughly a mile away. A count of fifteen means it is roughly three miles away. This is something I learned from my grandfather. He was a soldier and knew the dangers of an electrical storm. Counting through these storms is valuable. I can tell how far away storms are after they have passed and I can tell the distance of storms as they approach. Like waves crashing to shore they keep coming.

I look outside. The wind blows and the white underneath side of the leaves on the trees is exposed. This contrasts sharply against the darkness of the day. It is dramatic but familiar. I remind myself that I’ve been here before when not in the safety of a house. Being caught in a lightning storm near a river or lake is dangerous. Especially in an aluminum boat.  You can’t be too careful when it comes to lightning. A bolt of lightning can be a billion volts at 200000 amperes. It can turn a human into charcoal. Not a pleasant thought.

Even being inside can be dangerous.