Let’s Stop Cutting Pine Trees in Our City – OpEd


There are people who talk to plants. I am one of them. I talk to my flowers, vegetables and trees. Some people even play music for them. I do the same–folk, rock and ballad. Other 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.

Plants and trees are telling me all kinds of things in their strange, silent, cryptic way. When the wild sunflowers and morning glories bloom in the hills of Baguio, they are saying the cold mornings are coming and that the long rainy season will soon be over. They send signals to the bees that their best nectar are ready to be gathered. When the touch me not flowers open languidly in Burnham Park, they are signaling: ‘Hey, gimme a look for once, humans. Not only at our beautiful color but also at the majestic wonder we painted in your world. Observe the delicate formation of my petals. We bloom only once a year and then we die”.

And, when the yellow hibiscus folds its petals to die at the end of each day, in many home gardens in the city and at our own Botanical Park , in sign language it’s saying: ‘I have doe my part well in this world, have fed the butterflies, bees and ants. At night along Wright Park, the dama de noches start perfuming the night their petals wide and glowing in the moonlight, mocking late home-goers to sleep and scaring away 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 cleansing smog particulates. 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 dihydroterpene which exude in resinous substances, repelling pesky insects. Pine tree flowers emit dark, hypnotic fragrances exuded by resin.

E-pinene, myrcene and dihydroterpene help asmathic patients breath better by unclogging the lungs. These are responsible for the pine trees’ soft, warm aromatic and welcoming smell. With Baguio’s worsening smog, you can imagine how much trees do to cleanse our air and protect our health, especially the young and the elderly.

In my forest farm Habitat 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 three Cordillera Pine Tree Festivals attended and seen by almost 50,000 human beings in three years. I organized and led protests against the killing of pine trees attended to by thousands of people. The trees got their recognition. When I think of what tree destroyers do to trees, I wished they all start relearning life. I breathe deeply hoping for a signal for these people to start learning themselves.

This year the rainy days will continue through December. 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 may not survive some humans in Baguio who will order more trees to be cut to expand their concrete jungle. I will hear the trees cry frantically for help—to the mayor, the congressman, the city council and to their very protector—DENR.

But no one may hear them. No one.

When will we stop cutting pine trees in the city called “Pines”?

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.

One thought on “Let’s Stop Cutting Pine Trees in Our City – OpEd

  • June 27, 2020 at 6:48 am

    Please save the Pine Tress in the City of Baguio if you still want Baguio to stay or it will become a dead City.


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