By Jeanne Michael Penaranda
QUEZON CITY – The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Corporate Office (MWSS-CO) and the Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MTFI) honored various institutional, corporate, civic and individual stakeholder partners of the Annual Million Trees Challenge (AMTC) on June 27 at the MWSS Multi-Purpose Gym coinciding with the pledging session for 2023 commitments.
Now on its seventh year, the AMTC has brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, including more than 30 participating organizations, all united in the goal of protecting and rehabilitating our seven critical watersheds: Angat-Ipo, Kaliwa, La Mesa, Laguna Lake, Umiray, Upper Marikina, and Manila Bay.
In her welcome remarks, MWSS Administrator Leonor Cleofas cited the relevance of the AMTC project started in 2017 by her predecessor, former MWSS Chairman/Administrator Gen. Reynaldo V. Velasco (Ret.), who continues to pursue this noble advocacy through the Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MTFI) where he now serves as MTFI Chairman Emeritus working along with MTFI President and Executive Director Melandrew Velasco.
“These watersheds are vital, supporting the water supply for Metro Manila and adjoining provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, and parts of Cavite. Despite the global pandemic, the AMTC has made substantial progress. From 2017 to 2020, the campaign has contributed to the increase of the closed forest cover in these watersheds by 5,734 hectares. Furthermore, from 2017 to 2022, a total of 6,844,490 seedlings were planted, covering an area of 15,622 hectares,” reported Cleofas.
For his part, MTFI President Mel Velasco reported that over the last six years, the AMTC score card has reached 6.8 million trees planted with 1.6 million planted in 2022 alone from the combined 5.2 million trees planted from 2017 to 2021 in seven watersheds.
“We thank all our stakeholder and institutional partners in bringing to fruition our goal of planting more than a million trees annually to protect our watersheds. We are here in the long haul towards our dream of planting 10 million more trees until 2030,” said Velasco.
In a video documentary, Velasco cited the gains of AMTC and the Million Trees Foundation as well as the various accomplishments at the Million Trees Nursery and Eco Learning Center which has become an events venue for environmentalists, climate change advocates as well nature and tree lovers.
Receiving the prestigious Kampeon ng Tubig Kanlungan Awards are: SMC President Ramon S. Ang, Maynilad President Ramoncito S. Fernandez, Manila Water President Jocot de Dios, Santa Clara International Chairman Nicandro Linao, Manila Water Foundation Executive Director Reginald Andal, DENR RED-NCR Jaqueline Caancan, DENR Region 4A Nilo B. Tamoria, and Gen. Nakar Mayor Elizeo Ruzol.
Million Trees Achievers were conferred to five awardees namely: San Miguel Corporation for having planted more than 5 million trees in eight provinces under its 747 SMC Global Power Greening Program; Maynilad for achieving its 1-Millionth trees planted in December 2022 starting in 2007 under its Plant for Life project; Manila Water for having planted 1.382,114 million since 1997 until 2022; DENR 4-A for having planted 1,860,095 from 2017 to 2022; and, DENR Region 3 for having planted 2,063,515 from 2017 to 2022.
Recipients of this year’s AMTC Champion of Trees Awards which planted 25,000 trees or more for CY 2022 are: MWSS Regulatory Office – 25,000; CSBS Consortium – 30,500; Laguna Lake Development Authority – 38,274; General Nakar LGU: 47,829; DENR NCR: 60,280; PrimeWater: 67,334;MWSS Corporate Office: 80,000; Maynilad: 82,051; Manila Water: 88,000; DENR Region 3: 114,876; and, DENR Region 4A with 849,040 seedlings emerging as top performer.
Plaques of Appreciation were awarded to the following AMTC 2022 participants and stakeholders who have invariably planted trees at the La Mesa Watersheds with MTFI: LCWDC; AFI – Bantay Kalikasan; Rotary Club 3780; Rotary Club 3830; Rotary District 3800/RC Metro East Taytay; Rotary Club of Claro M Recto – D3810; JCI Senate Philippines; National Federation of Woman’s Club and Ligao Woman’s Club; Immaculate Conception Academy Alumnae Association; National Council of Women of the Philippines, President Cecille Dy; Zonta Club of Greater Rizal; Nestle Philippines Inc.; Netflix Philippines; Selma Group of Companies; ATOS Philippines; New World Hotel Makati; MCVO; Talent Outsourcing Services; Newport World Resort; DOHWA-EDCOP; and, SGS Philippines.
Special Awards plaques were handed to media entities and practitioners for supporting the AMTC, Million Trees Foundation and MWSS and for their timely and fair reporting and coverage of the various events, water security projects of the water agency: (Print Media) Philippine News Today USA, Alfred G. Gabot; Manila Standard, Ramoncito Tomeldan; Malaya, Jed Macapagal; Daily Tribune,Ms. Bettina Fernandez; PNA, Ben Cal; Business Mirror, Jonathan Mayuga; Inquirer,Ms. Meg Ela Adonis; Business World, Ms. Ashley Jose; and, Philippine Star, Ms. Danessa Rivera; (Broadcast/Radio/TV) A