Hearing The Pine Trees – OpEd


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, country and ballad but more seasoned gardeners tell me plants love  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 do to trees,  like killng them, 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  be late and stormy  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  many trees left in Baguio city will face a more graver test. Again  some will be cut.  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. The humans meant to guard them can’t hear them. I can.

I think I heard them sigh.

Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan

Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan wrote for the British Panos News and Features and GEMINI News Service, the Brunei Times, and US Environment News Service. In the Philippines, he wrote for DEPTHNews of the Press Foundation of Asia, Today, the Philippine Post, and Vera Files. A practicing environmentalist, he holds postgraduate degrees in environment resource management and development studies as a European Union (EU) Fellow at University College, Dublin, Ireland. He is currently a Fellow of Echoing Green Foundation of New York City. He now writes for Business Mirror and Eurasia Review.

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