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Men &Women:

Recognizing their roles as forest stewards


  forest stewards

More than a learning tool, the School-on-Air on Natural Resource Management paved its way in reiterating the roles of men and women as forest guardians in the protection of  their forests and other natural resources found within their  ancestral domain. Truly, it has revived their personal commitments as indigenous people to serve as social fence and stand by what they truly believe in that the forest in particular is both life and is sacred.


A total of 247, out of 282, SoA enrollees from Benguet and Abra were formally recognized after successfully completing the 3-4 months course last October 28 and 30, respectively.


Practically, the graduates, composed of 136 males and 111 females, admitted that the SoA course on natural resource management has elaborated their sense of responsibility as forest stewards as well as realized how their manmade activities have greatly affected their environment today. “As a woman leader, I have the responsibility to share what I learned and become a model to my organization. We may not be able to remember all the things that you [SoA teachers]  taught us, but we commit to  become better stewards,” said Ms. Genievev Llanes, first best performing student in Abra.


On the other hand, exhibits on indigenous flora and fauna thriving in their watersheds and/or reforestation sites were also showcased during the graduation activity. This is to further promote and share additional knowledge on the uses and importance of these indigenous species as well as calling the attention of concerned local government units regarding their protection and sustainability. Ferns, mushrooms, pine trees, wild cat and snakes are among the showcased indigenous species.


Exhibited indigenous species were outputs of the SoA enrollees that were initially presented during their onsite practicum. During the onsite  practicum, the enrollees shared their knowledge specifically the local name, common name,  uses and/or importance, and what type of forest these species belong to.

 forest stewards

“The SoA course on NRM has reiterated once again the importance of forest and natural resources that we may able to share through Information Education Campaign materials or through general assemblies and community meetings,” said Mr. Celio Bakura, brgy. Kagawad of Bakun. 


Belief systems on NRM

Belief systems regarding natural resource management were also shared during the onsite practicum. In Abra, Lapat system which is an indigenous forest management system is the common practice being followed. According to Mr. Arnel Valdez, SoA on NRM broadcaster and PPDO staff, this practice is highly observed by most of the municipalities wherein they even have a local ordinance of Lapat integrated

in the barangay level.


Moreover in Benguet particularly in the municipality of Bakun, some SoA enrollees also shared that among their practices related to the protection of forest is the “pasunay” or backfire burning and “salingsing” or debranching.  


Pasunay is being conducted to help prevent forest fires from spreading throughout the forest cover. In here, the community is going to create a fire opposite to where the wildfire is coming from, meeting halfway that will eventually cause both fires forest stewardto die when the meet with each other. Salingsing, on the other hand, is practiced especially when gathering for fire woods wherein only branches of trees are allowed to be cut.


“The management of forest in our barangay is good. Through this course, we were awakened and have renewed our commitments in the protection of our remaining forests as members of the community,” expressed one of the SoA enrollees in Poblacion, Bakun.


He added that an authority as bantay-gubat was given to them to help in the management and protection of their forest.


As we continue to embark on our unified goal towards the protection and sustainability of natural resources, it is effective to recognize our individual responsibilities as forest stewards and have that ‘sense of ownership’. The environment is changing drastically and without proper action from us and the concerned local government units, we may not be able to see these natural resources through the end, and that we do not want to happen.


As the CHARM2 Project defines forest, it is a testimony of “unity” forest co-exists with man and that they support each other.


With that, may the learnings and values on natural resource management continue to live on and will pass from generation to generation.


The SoA on NRM is in  partnership with the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices of Benguet  and Abra.

//Janice Bugtong Agrifino


forest stewardforest steward

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