“You don’t have to be a forester to care for the environment”. Aspen Plants for the Fourth Time, Aiming to Reach their 1,500 Tree CSR Commitment in 2017

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Ace and Ophie attending the MOA Signing of 8 City Mayors for the Alyansa ng mga Baybay Bayan ng Bulacan at Pampanga (ABB-BP), 18 July 2017.

21 July 2017, Sierra Madre Mountains, Laguna-Quezon Land Grant.    What began as a Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) friendship between Aspen Philippines, Inc. President Marcelina “Ace” Itchon (pictured below) and FEED President Ofelia Bakker-Mananquil (pictured to right) – strengthened into a tree-planting partnership that celebrates agro-forestry exchanges, team-building events, sharing of home edible gardening tips, honoring of anniversaries and continued Living Legacy plantings that recognize other inspired individuals ^(see also Related Articles below).

Both Presidents are FWN 2016 Awardees were recognized amongst other women of Philippine ancestry who are influencing the face of leadership in the global workplace, having reached status for outstanding work in their respective professions, industries and communities.


IMG_2777_resultForester Reynaldo Lorida (picture on side), who manages 5,000+ hectares out of the near 10,000 hectares at the Laguna-Quezon Land Grant (LQLG) site in Siniloan, Laguna near the Quezon province border of the Sierra Madre mountains range, aptly stated: “Mam Ace has become one of us, ‘parang Forester na siya’ (as if she’s a forester already), because from the moment she first planted with us she could already deliver the same technical talks we give about the importance of forestry and biodiversity protection for our uplands to lowlands.  She proves that ‘you don’t have to be a forester to care for the environment’.”

In fact, right after Ace’s first tree-planting experience with FEED in April 2017, she was recognized by the foresters and FEED’s operations leader Diane Penales (VP Ops) as one of the “most keen and excited participants we have ever worked with to date”, so much so that she was recommended to become a FEED Ambassador (being confirmed this July). Ace was also acknowledged because “she always speaks so reputably and reliably on the technical and social forestry dynamics applied in FEED’s and UPLB’s reforestation and rehabilitation approach, this is fundamental to our sustainability efforts.” – Anne-Marie Mananquil Bakker (FEED Director, Partnerships).

Four species of the 205 Philippine indigenous trees were planted, namely 5 Amugis, 50  Batino, 50 Dau, 50 Narra (national tree), and 50 Teak – all hard woods and natural carbon capture absorbers delivering cleaner air, homes for forest animals, and other ecosystem benefits to Mother Earth.

  • Amugis.jpgAmugis (L., Koordersiodendron pinnatum):  Large evergreen tree, up to 20 m tall.  Though amugis bears edible fruits, the tree is known more for its timber.  Flowers borne on 50 cm long axillary panicles, white. Fruit a drupe, yellow, egg shaped, 2.5-4.0 cm long, obtuse at both ends, edible, sweet, quality varying with trees, selection of superior clones possible. The fruits are edible.  These taste sweet and are eaten by locals.  The fruits, however, do not match mango which is its close relative, in taste. The tree is amore used as timber which is rather heavy, but only moderately durable. It is used for flooring, house construction, and furniture. The gum from an amugis tree is also used in local medicine.
  • BatinoPDBatino (L, Alstonia macrophylla Wallich ex G. Don):  Medium-sized tree, growing up to 20 meters high. Bark is smooth.  Flowers are small, yellowish-white, borne on short, terminal cymes.   Seeds are small and very flat, with deep-brown hairs, especially along the edges. Common In open primary and in secondary forests and thickets at low and medium altitudes throughout the Philippines. Phytochemical screening yielded alkaloids, phenolics, saponins, and tannins. Reported antipyretic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiinflammatory.
  • Narra.jpgNarra (L., Pterocarpus indicus / Pterocarpus indicus Willd.) or RosewoodMajestic reddish hard wood tree, growing to 33 meters nigh and 2 meters in diameter with an irregular fluted trunk.  In primary, and in some regions, secondary forests at low and medium altitudes throughout the Philippines, grown from seeds and cuttings. Leaves, roots, bark can all be utilized, yielding “kino,” containing kinotannic acid. Noted for its hardiness and rapid growth. Grows well in bottom lands, wind-firm and less susceptible to disease and pests. Nitrogen-fixing, considered antibacterial, anti-bilious, emetic.
  • Teak.jpgPhilippine Teak (L., Tectona philippinensis):  Critically Endangered since 2008 (IUCN Red List). Small to medium sized tree with bright purple blooms and distinguishable by its flaky bark.  Species found in coastal to lowland limestone forests. Produces a valuable timber used locally and nationally for construction, also used locally as firewood. It is one of only three species in the genus Tectona, which includes the commercial teak Tectona grandis, one of the few tropical timbers successfully grown as a plantation crop. A conservation programme is needed to re-establish a stable natural population of T. philippinensis in its known habitat.

Sources: http://www.stuartxchange.org/ and http://www.iucnredlist.org/.

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Photo Courtesy (and featured): Marcelina “Ace” Itchon, President, Aspen Philippines, Inc.

Special Mentions –  On Mandela Day & Our Mothers

south african flag.pngAspen is the first South African-based company to expand into the Philippines, and is the the world’s 9th largest generic pharmaceutical company. This July 21st CSR team building program was attended by 15 Aspen participants as well as two official representatives of the Embassy of the South African Republic in the Philippines, Political Counsellor Kau Tshire and Trade, Tourism & Marketing Officer Ellen Vega.

mandela day.pngIt was the second planting organized by Aspen with FEED this month honoring Nelson Mandela International Day (the first was on July 17th on the Northern Luzon Expressway/NLEX), which commemorates the lifetime of service Nelson Mandela gave to South Africa and the world. The Day was launched on his birthday, 18 July, in 2009 via a unanimous decision by the UN General Assembly.

Mandela Day calls on us all, every day, to make the world a better place. Each year on 18 July we look back on what has been done, and forward to what will be done.  Making every day a Mandela Day celebrates Madiba’s life and legacy in a sustainable way that will bring about enduring change. 

“It is in your hands to make of the world a better place,” he said a year prior, calling on the younger generation to take up this task.

Before the planting, Ace and South African Counsellor Tshire, reminisced about their mothers who recently passed away.  Ace initiated her tree advocacy with FEED by planting a Living Legacy trees in the name of her mother Claudia, as these trees will be maintained and monitored by both FEED and UPLB to ensure minimum 85% survival and not to be cut down, legally or otherwise.  Given that Counsellor Tshire was unable to trek to the planting site, she was invited to plant her very own *Botong tree near the manmade lake at LQLG (see pictures below) in memory of her dear mother, Beatrice Kau, who Counsellor Tshire lovingly refers to as “BK”.

*Botong or Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz. Tree  


It grows to a height of 8 to 15 meters. Leaves are large, obovate or obovate-oblong, 20 to 40 centimeters long, entire, thick, shining, stalkless, blunt-tipped, and pointed at the base. Flowers are very large and white, borne in short, erect, few-flavored racemes.  Anthers are small and yellow. Fruit has a typical tetragonal lantern shape, 8 to 14 centimeters long and 8 to 12 centimeters thick, containing one large seed.

Properties of the Botong Tree

  • A common strand plant along the seashore throughout the Philippines.
  • Cultivated as a shade tree along boulevards and avenues by the sea.
  • Also found within tropical Asia to Polynesia.Constituents- Seeds contain 2.9 percent of fixed oil, consisting of olein, palmitin, and stearin; gallic acid, 0.54 percent; a glucoside, barringtonin, 3.271 per cent.
  • Preliminary work on saponins from B. asiatica showed the seeds contain a mixture of saponins (A1-barrinin).
  • Known ichthyotoxic.
  • Studies have shown antitumor, antimicrobial, antiepileptic properties. Parts usedLeaves, seeds.
  • Pods reportedly eaten in Indo-China.
  • Caution: Raw seeds reported poisonous to eat. Folkloric- In the Philippines, leaves are heated and applied as topicals for stomachache.- Fresh leaves used as topicals for rheumatism.
  • Seeds employed as vermifuge.- Scraped content of the fruit used for cysts, goiter, abscesses, tumors. Scrapings are applied as a poultice or held inside a cloth.
  • Extract from dried kernel drunk to treat coughs, sore throat, bronchitis, infuenza, and diarrhea.
  • Besides use as fish poison, the Nicobari tribe of India used the leaves for then treatment of fractures, wounds, de-worming, and pain relief.
  • Mixture of young leaves of B. asiatica and Morinda citrifolia are squeezed into water and drunk to relieve stomach ache. Fresh leaves heated and applied on fresh cuts and chronic infected skin conditions. Sliced seed applied on sores. Dried seed considered highly poisonous and used in suicide attempts.

Botong’s Other Applications and in Other Countries

  • In the Cook Islands, grated seeds mixed with coconut cream rubbed onto burns.
  • In Fiji, leaf decoction used for treatment of hernia. Bark decoction use to treat constipation and epilepsy.
  • In Samoa, fruit or bark used to treat yaws, seeds for ringworm, bark for tuberculosis.
  • In Ayurveda, used for burns, wounds, stomachache, rheumatism, worm infections, malarial splenomegaly, and tuberculosis.
  • Others- Fish poison: In Indo-China, fruit used as fish poison.
  • In Solomon Islands and Samoa, used to stun fish.
  • Oil: In the Moluccas, oil is extracted from the seeds and used as illuminant.
  • Wood: Used for construction of canoes and wooden houses, handicraft items. Also as firewood.

Source: http://www.stuartxchange.org/Botong

Acknowledgments to Aspen – FEED Patrons of Education & the Environment

Aspen Philippine Inc LOGO

Thank you Aspen Philippines Inc., our latest eco-warriors, for your outstanding, sustained and inspired environmental, livelihood development and other social advocacies – we wish you continued success in all you do and in achieving your 1,500 indigenous tree planted in 2017!

1. Ace Itchon 7. Mitch Franco
2. Eden Fuster 8. Alex Cariaga
3. Steven Lumabi 9. Raul Lasquesty
4. Elaine Castro 10. Ellen Vega
5. Jo-Ann ravela 11. Tsire Kau
6. Celso Avena

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