A  nursing school is not limited to taking care of human beings. The environment is one area that needs our tender loving care (TLC), too.  

St. Paul University Quezon City has environmental stewardship as one of its strongest advocacies. It has assigned the Community Development and Advocacy Center (CDAC) to be on top of all these initiatives.

Last March 5-6 and 12-13, 2018, the two NSTP classes under Ms. Castillo and Ms. Andrade had their immersion in Cabiokid in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija.

CABIOKID is a contraction of the words Cabiao, bio, and bukid. It is a 13-hectare permaculture development site about three hours drive from Manila which is a partnership that has been supported and promoted by SPUQC for some decades now.

Before Cabiokid was developed, the place was the typical ricefield that was tended using chemicals and non-sustainable inputs.

Now the farm follows permaculture principles and ethics. They divided their area into five zones depending on the degree of human interaction.

I appreciated the entire farm and looked forward to learning about how the farmers apply permaculture in their farm.

When we arrived at the site, we started off with an orientation. The people told us about their history, what permaculture is, and how they use permaculture in their farm.

Permaculture or permanent culture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered on directly utilizing the patterns observed in natural ecosystems.

After the orientation, we had our tour around the farm. We were shown the different zones and they discussed how they work on these zones. 

We were assigned our huts and we settled down while waiting for lunch to be served. We were served red rice which was grown from their farm.

After lunch, we had our rest while waiting for our interaction with the families. We were assigned a family to interact with.

For about an hour, we just talked to the family and then went back to the site for our vegetable planting. They discussed how to properly plant the seedling and how to use mulch.

Dinner was the next activity followed by the bonfire session where we shared our own reflections on the first day of immersion. We ended our first day with praying the rosary.

The following morning started off with a prayer as well. We had our breakfast and prepared to interact with the families once again.

We were told to do what they would usually do.  So we cleaned up, cooked our next meals, and even paid bills for them.

We prepared Chicken Tinola for the family. We got to talk more with the families and know more about their background in Cabiao and the effect of Cabiokid on them.

Our interaction with the family concluded our immersion in Nueva Ecija. We waited for the bus going home.  Yeah, we commuted!

Throughout our entire stay in Cabiokid, we got to know more of the importance of health and well-being, permaculture, and segregation.

We got to see first-hand how they run their farm. They served us food mostly from their farm; and we saw how strict they were when it came to segregation because they will always find a way  how to reuse our trash.

The entire immersion was truly a different kind of learning experience. I learned a lot of new things and enhanced my knowledge on old things, strengthened my bond with friends and made new ones as well.

I learned to appreciate nature more since I live in the city and I am not always in the province. The weather, although hot, was very much appreciated. The skies were clear, perfect for all our activities. We all slept inside huts made from wood and bamboo which is a different experience.

I got to know my schoolmates more because of the time spent with them and the insights that they shared during the bonfire session.

The entire immersion enhanced my realization that fortune is a concept that can change from person to person.

Let’s say for example that one person has more money but weak family relationships while another person is poor but has strong family relationships.

Who dares say that one is more fortunate than the other?  We grew up thinking that fortune is just about money but fail to realize the other important aspects of life aside from financial wealth.

It is all a matter of perspective and priority.

What do we prioritize in life? What is fortune in our lives? Some people may say that this group is “less fortunate” but then again, fortune is a relative concept.

I observed every aspect during my stay in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija and noticed that they have strong family relationships, more trees and plants, less pollution, a good living condition when it comes to jobs, and a breathtaking view of the stars at night.

People in Cabiokid are doing what they love while making a huge impact to the environment with their permaculture and that is one of the important things in life.

This experience has an impact on me as a Paulinian as well because Paulinians are stewards of the environment.

In our times of trouble because of the climate, we really need to apply the knowledge learned about permaculture so that we can help save our environment.

The immersion experience is one that I would like to experience again, maybe in a different place to observe and learn new things.

SPUQC Joins Tree Planting for Disaster Mitigation

by Chadwick Tan

SPUQC employees and student volunteers showed their commitment to being stewards of God’s creation by participating in a treeplanting activity held last March 3-4, 2018.

Located in Tanay, Rizal, the jump-off to the tree planting area is a 3-hour drive from Quezon City. The tree planting site itself is near the peak of Mount Maynoba, one of the few places near Metro Manila where you can catch a glimpse of a “sea of clouds” surrounding the mountaintops.

Mt Maynoba and its surrounding mountains form part of the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape.  Its establishment as a protected area started in 1904 when the geographical area was named Marikina Watershed Reservation.

Its important role in mitigating floods has been established by the Philippine Climate Change Commission.

The Commission verified that there is a need to plant more trees in these areas to prevent large scale flooding that would inundate Metro Manila.

Local government units have taken these advice to heart.

Communities in the Upper Marikina area and Tanay launched ecotourism programs in their areas to encourage locals to become guides and porters for those tourists and non-locals desiring to plant trees.

In Mt. Maynoba and Cayabu areas, a registration fee of PhP100 is charged per person, and a PhP250 group fee is given directly to the guides.

For a lot of seasoned hikers, this maybe a steep price to pay, but the LGUs assured us that a portion goes to the indigenous people, community development and maintenance of the place for ecotourism.

Planting trees is no easy task. Hikers have to carry the seedlings and their bags up a steep trail for 3 hours.

The group decided to set up camp during the night to re-charge and plant the trees the following day.

Owing to weather conditions, the group wasn’t able to view a sea of clouds surrounding the mountaintop.

On their way back to the jump-off area, however, they were able to view the scenic eight “wonder” falls and appreciate being reconnected to Mother Nature once again.