Going home to the province is always a treat. It always means a break from the noise and busy life in the city.
As we travel the hilly road from Dumaguete City to Valencia (Negros Oriental), the cool breeze always welcomes us to remind that we are on the place, my Home, my sanctuary. And going home setting aside the idea of work is such a Treat – to know that your day will not start at 5 in the morning rush and of heavy traffic jams.
Liptong, is a Barangay shared by two municipalities – Bacong and Valencia, of Negros Oriental and which word derived from a rare tree species called Liptong.
As we are about to go for a morning stroll, a cousin informed us that there is a new place flocked by students from other regions, as well as local tourists. Out of curiosity we decided to visit the place and the site was a total surprise.
Have you seen and experienced being in a forest?
A signage welcomes us to “LIPTONG WOODLAND”, in a one-hectare property which used to be our playground (playing kites), now lined up of lush, green trees and sounds of birds chirping, flying from one tree to another.
We met the owner, (a neighbor and an acquaintance), Rene Vendiola or fondly called “Tatay Ite”. We, (with my two daughters) made introductions, which later he seems to recognize me from younger days. Deep inside I ask myself, how come this person I’d known as a “Kaingiro” (slush and burn farmer) had come up with a vision like this?
He walked us through lined of different kinds of trees, explaining its practical and medicinal value. You can feel his passion as he shared us his efforts to preserve the Philippine’s native trees which are now threatened and endangered, especially in the Negros region.
The trees are identified and geo “TAGGED” accordingly (barely 226 had been tagged), local name, scientific name and origin. Although number of species of trees still unspecified for he is still adding new species to his collection.
Piles of dead leaves scattered around as we tread on following our guide and lecturer, Tatay Ite. It is amusing to learn that his experienced as a mountain guide along Mt. Talinis area had made him see the effect of the “Kaingin”, and site of the nearly denuded mountain. stir his love for Trees. He then started a campaign to save forest and plant only endemic species. His son who shares his passion for trees help him realize the dream.
Barely 10 years had passed, and now Liptong Woodland of Bacong, Negros Oriental is the fruit of his labor. About 3,000 trees are planted in the one-hectare area (he is now starting to plant in the extended area), which 226 trees are now being geo tagged.
You can find Lawaan tree, an endemic specie in Negros which has thick leaves that catches rains and whose tips turn fat raindrops into needles. A pile of Lawaan dead leaves also help trap rainfall. One rare species is the “Takip-asin” with flat round leaves that could purposely use as an umbrella. Another pre-historic tree is the Almaciga (plants abound before the dinosaurs), its resin is used by the locals to make incense.
The dead forest versus the rainforest in Liptong
I had been to the man-made forest of Bilar in Bohol. The reforestation was done purposely to serve as a watershed and for wild animals to return to their niche. After 50 years the forest now is lined up with beautiful mahogany sky-high trees, but animal life is rare to find.
In Liptong Woodland (Bacong, Negros Oriental), life is everywhere, the thick trees, the birds which you can hear chirping, not to mention the Owl hiding in its nest, the area is covered with moss and mushrooms sprouting everywhere with lots of insects abound whispering in your ears. Flora and fauna species abound.
Tatay Ite is encouraging our youth to be aware of our current climate-change problem and help it by planting trees. He is willing to share for free seedlings and saplings for conservation effort.
He conducts lectures to students coming all over the country. He builds a native cottage to house students or companies who would conduct seminars/retreats or Team-building. The place is a perfect place for soul searching and serenity. The place is a regular venue for Silliman University week long Annual Service Learning Program involving local and foreign students.
Fruits of labor
Tatay Ite’s life-long advocacy to preserve rare, endemic and endangered species does not go unnoticed. The following award is a proof of his love and passion for trees.
- In 2011, He was awarded the Pantaleon Villegas Award as “Outstanding Baconganon” for environmental conservation.
- The following year 2012, Rene (Tatay Ite) Vendiola’s cause caught the attention of NGO. He was awarded as “EXEMPLARY Individual” during the Ramon Aboitez Foundation Inc., 6th Triennial award for what he had accomplished in Liptong Woodland. RAFI triennial award is granted every 3 years to two categories, 1st is for Exemplary Individual and the 2nd award is for Outstanding Institution in the Visayas and Mindanao.
- Last year, on February 2016, he become Habagat Ambassador and awarded for “Environmental Protection Award” given by the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection.
How to get to Liptong Woodland?
You may take a public utility jeepney in Dumaguete bound for Valencia with P12.00 fare for less than 30 minutes. Upon reaching Valencia you may ask a Habal-habal (motorcycle) Driver to take you to the place for a sabot-sabot (agreement) which ranges from P30 to P50 a way.
Liptong Woodland is located in Liptong, Bacong but it is more accessible if you will take the Liptong, Valencia route.
From a simple man with a simple dream but with a great love for trees equals a rainforest.
You need not have the powers of superman to be called a Hero! You can make things possible if you put your heart in it!
Do you know one Juan dela Cruz who is a True and Ideal Filipino? Share your thoughts with us.
Follow and Like Us on Facebook: Pinoy Helpdesk!!!