Many consider Friday the 13th as a day that brings bad luck. However, for the constituents of Southern Luzon State University (SLSU), December 13, 2013 was an auspicious day which held a lot of promise; for on a Friday the 13th, the DENR-NGP Clonal Forestry Complex of SLSU was inaugurated and blessed by the parish priest of Lucban, Quezon. Present during the event were faculty, officials, and students of SLSU; DENR representatives also graced the well-attended affair despite the morning drizzle.
Dr. Cecilia N. Gascon, SLSU President, delivered the opening remarks for the propitious occasion. President Gascon stated that her University's commitment to the DENR-SLSU NGP Clonal Forestry Project emanates from the mission of SLSU - to promote a healthy environment - as the University is engaged in the conservation and management of Mt. Banahaw. Further, Dr. Gascon emphasized, "We envision rehabilitating denuded areas in CALABARZON as we produce quality seedlings/planting materials from this DENR-SLSU NGP Clonal Facility. The facility will also cater the needs of our students in Forestry, Environmental Science and Agriculture as they do their laboratory/field activities and researches." Finally, SLSU President Cecilia N. Gascon expressed her sincerest thanks to ERDB-DENR for placing its trust on SLSU as one of the partner universities in the production of quality planting materials for the National Greening Program.
For. Celso P .Diaz, former ERDB Director, represented OIC-Director Portia G. Lapitan during the inauguration and blessing of the DENR-SLSU NGP Clonal Forestry Project. Like Dr. Gascon, For. Diaz emphasized the need to rehabilitate the denuded areas in CALABARZON Region particularly in Quezon Province with quality planting materials. For. Diaz, in his brief remarks on the DENR-NGP Clonal Forestry Project, traced the history of macro-clonal propagation technique using non-mist system which was popularized by ERDB in the early 1990s during the FAO-UNDP Project; it is the same technology that DENR through ERDB is adopting under NGP to produce quality seedlings like dipterocarps, indigenous and premium forest tree species. The former ERDB head mentioned that in the MOA between DENR and SLSU, and other SUCs, it provides that initially 60,000 seedlings will be provided by them to DENR produced from seeds and wildlings from good quality planting stock meantime that the clonal project has yet to produce plantable cloned seedlings. For. Diaz expressed gladness that SLSU is moving in the right direction when it came to the establishment of protocols on the clonal propagation of indigenous and premium species; he also underscored the importance of technology transfer and hoped that SLSU can sustain the operations of the forestry clonal project until 2016 and beyond. Also, For. Diaz expressed his thanks to Dr. Gascon for supporting the DENR-SLSU NGP Clonal Forestry Project. The former ERDB director ended his speech by saying "Sana mataniman natin ang mga denuded areas o areas without forest cover sa CALABARZON Region using only good quality planting materials".
Meanwhile, in his inspirational message, Dr. William R. Palaypayon, OIC-Regional Technical Director for Forest Management Service for CALABARZON Region congratulated SLSU for its achievement. Dr. Palaypayon said, "Ang aking pagpupugay sa SLSU…Ako'y natutuwa dahil ang SLSU ay nakakatulong sa ating mga adhikain." Dr. Palaypayon also related that he was very happy that he was able to return to SLSU since "actually nung ako'y RTD pa ng ERDS (Ecosystems Research and Development Service), ako po ang nagsimula niyan (clonal complex). I went to Pres. Gascon to talk about the DENR-SLSU NGP Clonal Forestry Project."
Dr. Conrado L. Abraham, SLSU Vice-President for Production, Research, Extension, and Development (VP-PRED), who delivered the closing remarks, expressed his thanks for everyone's support to the project and underscored the importance of trees as a source of medicine and as source of life.
The Clonal Forestry Complex of SLSU is situated in a 6,000 square meter area located in SLSU's College of Agriculture, Barangay Ayuti, Lucban, Quezon. At present, the clonal complex is composed of a clonal nursery building/laboratory processing area, rooting area with sixty rooting beds, recovery area, and a 780 square meter hedge garden for planting stocks of indigenous forest tree species. According to Pres. Gascon, SLSU has spent about P1,000,000.00 over and above the P3.5 M grant from DENR to complete the construction of the clonal complex and for maintenance and operation. Future actions for the development of the clonal complex include: construction of additional set of concrete beds for the rooting area, planting of additional stock plants in hedge garden using indigenous tree species, production of 300,000 seedlings (80% clones and 20% from seeds), and conduct of research on rooting of cuttings of priority species based on various concentrations of rooting hormone, age of shoots/cuttings, and type of misting system. -- Fleurdeliz A. Cruz, with inputs and photographs from For. Kathreena Engay, SLSU Focal Person for NGP-PQPM