EIA’s speech at the 2017 Aboitiz Groupwide Simultaneous Tree Planting

Our partners from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, FMB Director Noni Tamayo, Asst Director Mayumi Natividad and other FMB officers.

Our host community from Barangay Limao, Calauan, Laguna headed by Brgy Captain Eddie Sanchez.

Our partners and volunteers from PGPC and Makban watershed.

Fellow Aboitiz team members:

Good morning!

It is with great honor that I welcome you all to today’s simultaneous tree planting. Thank you for setting aside this Saturday morning to once again demonstrate your support for our flagship environmental initiative: The A-Park program.

As we now gather here in Laguna, Aboitiz team members in Visayas and Mindanao also join us in their respective planting sites, hence the coining of today’s activity – The Aboitiz Groupwide Simultaneous Tree Planting. For those joining us for the first time, let me share briefly what this initiative is all about.

A-Park is the Aboitiz Group’s contribution to a global action that aims to reforest and maintain a healthy ecosystem. Through A-Park, we are helping our government achieve its National Greening Program target.  We are also joining the international community in attaining the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of protecting and restoring life on land.

As you know, we had initially targeted 3 million trees by 2015. Thanks to your unfaltering efforts, we were able to reach that number a year earlier in 2014. Thereafter, we set a new, more ambitious goal to plant 9 million trees by 2020.

We are three years away from completing our A-Park program, and based on our current number of 5.4 million trees planted, we need to double up our efforts to meet our 9-million target by 2020. We are intensifying our efforts by partnering with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI).

We will of course bank on your continued support so we can achieve our target together with our new partners. Your presence here today affirms that can-do attitude. We have proven time and again that there is no insurmountable task if we band together, and with Teamwork at play, we are optimistic that we can overcome this challenge.

The Aboitiz Way has always emphasized the core value of Responsibility, not just in our work, but equally important how we interact with our surroundings. A-Park trees will not only help combat climate change, but also provide livelihood opportunities for our community stakeholders, like what we have been doing here in Laguna.

We pioneered this community-based forest management approach in Hedcor’s watershed areas. And in Mindanao, we actively pushed for the establishment of AboitizPower’s Carbon Sink Management Program (CSMP), which aims to reforest 1,000 hectares of land within the Matigsalug Indigenous People’s ancestral domain in Davao City. We will plant 800 trees per hectare and make sure the seedlings grow and survive for 10 years.

Through this, the carbon sink will absorb carbon emissions from the region’s industrial and transport sectors, help maintain the Davao City water reservoir, and provide livelihood for the Matigsalug tribe through sustainable agro-forestry practices.

All these are tangible manifestations of our higher purpose that we adhere to in Aboitiz. In our own small way, we are making it happen year after year. The seedlings that we will plant today symbolize our commitment to our Group Purpose, “To drive change for a better world.”

At this point, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate UnionBank and AEV for having the biggest number of team members who registered for our tree planting. I would also like to congratulate the Aboitiz Foundation, although smaller in number, for having the highest registration rate this year. Thank you for the dedication you have shown today. Keep up the good record and may your commitment inspire even more our fellow team members to drive change for a better world.

In closing, I wish to express my sincerest thanks to APRI MakBan for welcoming us to the planting site for three years now; thank you too to the sustainability team for organizing this event and I believe they have prepared games for you to make you tree planting experience more fun; we also thank our host communities who will serve as the stewards of the A-Park trees.

Let the A-Park seedlings flourish so our children may enjoy them in their time. Let us all remember that in every tree we plant, lies a pledge of a better tomorrow that should be enjoyed by generations to come. The future of our common home, which we call Earth, is truly in our hands.

Thank you and have a pleasant day ahead!