The SM group and Unilever Philippines will be helping “green” Tacloban as well as in providing jobs to a People’s Organization (PO) by planting 15,077 jackfruit, sugar-apple (atis) and tamarind trees under its Grow A Million Trees (GAMT) Campaign.
The planting activity was held on October 21 on a 30-hectare site in Barangay 98, Camansihay, Tacloban City, Leyte. The trees planted under GAMT will be cared for by the Camansihay Upland Developers Association, a PO in Tacloban, over the next three years to ensure their growth and survival.
Chairman Adan Esmeres, head of the PO, said that after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) destroyed most of the area’s fruit-bearing trees in 2013, their community had a difficult time in looking for other livelihood opportunities.
“Our members used to harvest and sell the coconuts grown here in this area but because of Yolanda, a lot of them were uprooted,” Esmeres said in the vernacular. “We are very thankful for these new trees which can help us restart our livelihood.”
Event sponsor Unilever Philippines will also be supporting the community further. According to Unilever Philippines’ representative and Key Customer Manager CJ Santiago, the tamarinds produced from the trees will be bought and used by Unilever Philippines for their Knorr products.
Santiago added, “This is truly a fruitful event knowing that we have given back to the environment and at the same time, helped enhance the livelihood in the community.”
The SM group first joined forces with Unilever Philippines in 2007 when they launched the SM Green Bag. The project encouraged customers to use reusable bags for their shopping.
For the event, 206 volunteers from the SM group, Unilever Philippines, Camansihay Upland Developers Association, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Pantawid Pamilya participated in the tree-planting activity.
The GAMT Campaign is in line with DENR’s National Greening Program which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees by 2016. Since 2013, SM Markets has been championing the initiative in cooperation with SM Foundation, SM Supermalls, DENR, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office and various POs.
This planting activity in Tacloban is also aligned with SM Foundation’s continued support for the communities affected by Yolanda. Other efforts include medical missions, farmers’ trainings and disaster resilient shelters through the SM Cares Yolanda Housing Program.
This is the SM group’s fourth tree planting activity for 2015 and its 15th site since 2013. This is also their first GAMT partnership with Unilever Philippines.
To date, the campaign has been able to plant almost half a million saplings.