Pumuputol po ako ng Narra noon. Pero dahil sa tulong ng NGP, natutunan ko na ngayong pahalagahan ang kalikasan.”

Donato Gammad of Nagtipunan town admits that he spent his early years trading illegally cut forest logs to earn a living. He said he wouldn’t mind consuming forest resources just to sustain his family. But not until a tragic circumstance happened.

Nagkaroon po ako at ang isa kong anak ng malalang case ng malaria,” Donato recalled as he realized this might already be ‘nature’s karma’. “Sobrang laki po ng ginastos namin sa ospital, kulang pa yung mga pinagbentahan namin ng kahoy,” he added.

The unexpected risk that invaded Donato’s family has enlightened his perspective towards environmental protection and conservation. He said the major turnaround happened right at the same moment when NGP also came in.

Donato established a 13-hectare NGP plantation in 2011 and 2014 in an area used to be covered with huge rocks and tall grasses. With the resources and technical assistance provided for him, he was able to grow Narra, Ipil, Gmelina, and fruit bearing trees such as rambutan, mango, citrus and calamansi.

He said people usually complain about the blistering weather back when trees weren’t around. With the help of NGP, they now experience fresher air. “Hindi na rin nagkakaroon ng soil erosion dito at mas nagiging maganda pa ang quality ng lupa,” he said.

Donato was delighted to realize the mutual advantage of growing trees while it makes him earn a living at the same time. He told the greening program has added a lot of vibrancy to his children’s future since it helped them finish their studies.

Sa mga tanim naming rambutan po kami kumikita ngayon. Sa katunayan, maraming turista ang dumadayo sa amin para makapamili ng mga prutas,” Donato beamed.

From an illegal logger turned nature lover, Donato is now an advocate of environmental preservation as he joins the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine National Police and the local government units together with their association called Kadikitan Association for Community Development in campaigning against illegal forest activities.

“We usually go to different barangays and tell them of the benefits of our programs such as the NGP especially in livelihood and climate change mitigation,” said Taripato Sagun, Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer in Nagtipunan. He added Donato is a living proof that one needs not to compromise the environment just to survive.

Donato encouraged residents especially those who live in the upland areas to be responsible dwellers in the environment. He said one negative action against nature can go back to everyone.#