LUCENA CITY—If you’re among the annual throng of Mount Banahaw pilgrims during Holy Week, offer the deities not only prayers and candles but also help them turn their spiritual abode into a paradise of lush greens.
Salud Pangan, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) park superintendent for Banahaw, appealed to Lenten pilgrims to also plant trees while spending sacred time in different mountain spots declared open to the public “to help resurrect the mountain’s lush greens.”
Many religious believers trek Banahaw, known as a “sacred mountain,” to experience something divine as they believe it is inhabited by heavenly spirits.
Pangan said the DENR would provide free seedlings to the pilgrims, who could pick them up on the way to their chosen holy spots, while the DENR staff would pinpoint the different planting sites.
“Spiritual communion and activity to protect Mother Earth will be most rewarding during the sacred [Lenten] period,” Pangan said.
She said Banahaw and the adjacent Mount San Cristobal need more volunteer planters to complete the task of rehabilitating the mountains and transform these into a verdant mass of forest trees.
Pangan said they were short of volunteer planters because of the distance of the target planting sites and most of them prefer road sides and accessible areas as planting sites.
Pangan urged nongovernment organizations, civic organizations, schools and private companies to sponsor more tree planting activities in Banahaw and Mount San Cristobal and coordinate these with them so the DENR could identify the areas for planting.
She stressed that Banahaw is still close to the public but camping, praying and other religious activities would be allowed only in designated areas.
Mount Banahaw, a traditional pilgrimage site for religious devotees and mountaineers, straddles the municipalities of Lucban, Tayabas, Sariaya, Candelaria and Dolores in Quezon, and parts of the towns of Rizal, Nagcarlan, Liliw, Majayjay and San Pablo City in Laguna.
Most of the 2,177-meter mountain, which spans an area of 11,133 hectares, had been restricted to the public since 2004 to allow the recovery of areas damaged by slash-and-burn farming and irresponsible mountaineering.
Pangan said this year, the DENR aims to plant forest trees and native wildlife berries, such as “lipute,” “duhat” and “kalumpit,” to meet their target of reforesting 780 hectares in Banahaw.
Last year, Pangan said the DENR and its private sector partners reforested 567 hectares.
In 2011, Gov. David Suarez launched a reforestation project for Banahaw and allocated P1 million a year for the next 15 years to revive the mountain.