Seminary spearheads ‘community pan-TREE’ initiative

Seminary spearheads ‘community pan-TREE’ initiative
The St. John Vianney Theological Seminary (SJVTS) puts up a “Community Pan-TREE” at the Camaman-an Parish Church in Cagayan de Oro City. COURTESY OF FR. RALUTO

By CBCP News

May 13, 2021

Cagayan de Oro City

Inspired by “community pantries” across the Philippines, a theological seminary in the country’s south is leading an environmental initiative to encourage tree planting in communities.

Dubbed as “Community Pan-TREE”, it adopts the same concept but aside from food they offer free seedlings and saplings to those who want to plant them.

The St. John Vianney Theological Seminary (SJVTS) in Cagayan de Oro City started the campaign last month as a “long-term and integral response” to the pandemic.

Fr. Reynaldo Raluto, SJVTS’ academic dean, said the Pan-TREE started by disposing their own kamagong (velvet apple) saplings.

Due to people’s support, he said they were able to offer more species including molave, cinnamon, pacific walnut, and eucalyptus.

“Our response to this pandemic should not just be short term like providing food or following health protocols but also long term, which is more ecological and sustainable,” Raluto said.

“So we have to respond to the problems of our ecosystem. Our declining forest ecosystem is really a serious problem that we have to face,” he said.

Various mutual aid efforts have sprouted across the country in recent weeks to help those struggling with Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

The food pantries have a common motto: “Give what you can, take what you need”.

In the pan-TREE, a cardboard sign also reminds the public that “people do not live by food alone, but also by the ecological services of trees”.

The priest encouraged the people, especially the owners of tree nurseries, to share share with them tree seedlings and saplings so they can sustain their operations.

“If we can only see these two aspects, social and ecological, as one, the response of planting more trees is like hitting two birds with one stone,” he said.

Raluto, who is also the moderator of the SJVTS’ Committee on Integral Ecological Concerns, said that planting trees has long been an advocacy of the seminary.

“Whether there is pan-TREE or none, we’ve been doing this for years,” he said.

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