Top officials from Cebu and Los Baños, Laguna converged at Camp 7, Minglanilla, Cebu last June 1, 2016 to mark the centennial celebration of the Osmeña Reforestation Project (ORP). Gracing the event were Cebu’s top government officials led by Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III; Cebu City mayor-elect, Tomas R. Osmeña; and Minglanilla Mayor, Elanito Peña.

The Biodiversity, Coastal, Wetlands and Ecotourism Research Center (BCWERC) hosted the said event in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region 7. DENR 7 Regional Director, Isabelo Montejo and BCWERC Center Head, Dr. Alicia L. Lustica with the support of the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB). Assistant Director, Dr. Antonio M. Daño, led the celebration which was participated in by more than 150 participants comprising of DENR 7, EMB, MGB, BCWERC staff, business partners, stakeholders, and representatives from various government agencies, NGOs, and People’s Organizations (POs).

ORP, the first and oldest reforestation project in the country started on Jan. 13, 1916 with the passage of Act No. 2649, setting aside P10,000 for the reforestation project through the support of the late President Sergio Osmeña Sr., thus the name ‘Osmeña Reforestation Project’. Located within the ORP is the 123.4 hectare Experimental Forest Station (EFS) which serves as demonstration and training center for the conservation and management of forest plantation, seed production area, cave and ecotourism, and as field laboratory for Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) technologies.

Dr. Alicia L. Lustica of BCWERC, in her welcome message was grateful and eagerly revealed that the day’s event was doubly significant with the inauguration and blessing of the Visayas Tree Seed Center in the area. According to Dr. Lustica, the tree seed center will serve as laboratory testing and storage facility for quality seeds collected throughout the Visayas Region.

Moreover, ERDB Assistant Director Daño in his speech, highlighted the Status of Resources in the Experimental Forest within ORP. “Experience and history taught us that fragmented actions only achieve too little, if not only worsen the situation, hence, DENR-ERDB through the BCWERC calls for a “strong collaboration” with all stakeholders to harmonize actions and in effect, achieve our goals of protecting and sustaining the gains of the ORP, a valuable Cebuano heritage”, Director Antonio Daño said.

Cebu Governor Hilario P. Davide III, in his message also vowed to collaborate with BCWERC and DENR “in preserving, maintaining, and protecting” ORP. Accordingly, he will recommend the area as an eco-tourism spot to be included in the activity, ‘Suroy-Suroy Sugbo,’ the regular tours organized by the provincial government to spotlight the beauty of the Cebu countryside and outlying islands.

Gov. Davide, Director Montejo, and BCWERC Center Head Dr. Alicia L. Lustica proceeded to the Visayas Tree Seed Center in the area after the opening program and spearheaded the ribbon cutting for the inauguration and blessing of said tree seed center. A media forum, ‘Kapihan sa PIA’ was likewise held thereafter with Region 7 officials from the DENR, EMB, MGB, together with the BCWERC Center Head and ERDB Assistant Director as guests. Discussions highlighted the ORP Centennial Celebration, activities in line with the June 2016 Environment month celebration, and various concerns of the different offices and bureaus.

The day’s event also served as a kick-off for the month long Environment Month Celebration of DENR which also included the unveiling of the centennial marker of the ORP, viewing of video documentary, exhibits, bamboo gallery, and seed storage area. The day’s activity culminated with an Eco-Trail and Tree Planting facilitated by the BCWERC staff. L. Quiachon & A. Jumawan, BCWERC