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Teresita C.

"To save 182 trees from being cut to make way for a 1000 parking slots."

San Juan City, Manila, Philippines
female, age 76
married, 4 children
Speaks: English, Filipino, Spanish, French
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I am TES Choa (pronounced CHOY). I am the Founding Chairman of Mother Earth Foundation ( Our Mantra is LAHAT - Lupa, Araw, Hangin, Ako at Tubig. Translated it means Soil, energy-Sun, Air, ME and Water. Our area of expertise is Ecological Waste Management. My organization trains the Barangay (smallest political unit in the Philippines from 50-100 families) to segregate, recycle, reuse, reduce, redesign, compost and establish an MRF - a Materials Recovery Facility. We hosted the Zero Waste Alliance Conference in 2010 in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. In this province of Palawan you will find one of the Heritage Sites - an Underground River with the most fantastic shapes of stalagmites and stalagtites.

Presently, I am passionately involved in trying to save 182 trees that the ShoeMart (SM) Baguio Mall wants to cut to make way for a 7 level 1000 slots Parking Lot/Entertainment Area/Roof Garden and Water Catchment/Cistern capable of 6.9 million liters. Baguio City is 5,800 ft. above sea level with a cool temperature 10-20C the whole year round. Baguio has five (5) active crisscrossing fault lines. One crack on  that water catchment and like a dam, it will flood the main Session Road and flood the Public Market. The 1990 Earthquake gave us a severe lesson which these Johnny come lately never experienced. The City Ordinance states that no building should be higher than 5 stories. This 7 level project is a direct slap on that ordinance. City engineers who approved this project has no love for the environment. SM originally cut 473 trees to put up the mall. Another 100 trees were cut when a Call Center was put up. Now another 182 trees (supposed to be earthballed) will be affected. Pine Trees have very sensitive roots. One cut or injury to the roots and the whole tree dies. If you ask the Dept. of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) to show you where they supposedly transferred the trees from Fort Bonifacio (a Taguig City new development) - they cannot show you any example of an earthballed transferred area of trees. One, the DENR does not have the huge machines to use for this treatment. Two, there is no DENR personnel that has the expertise for Earthballing a tree. In Maryland one heritage oak tree was earthballed and transferred. It cost $1million dollars to achieve that.

Traffic has been re-routed to accomodate SM Baguio. Their plan to apply to the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is rather weird when they must cut 755 trees in total to make way for a concrete monstrosity that will not absorb carbon dioxide, that will not release Oxygen to the constituents of the city and that will triple the traffic and human density on Luneta Hill where this mall is located. The trees being cut are around 20-35 years old. You know how long it takes to have a matured pine tree - at least 50 years!!
SM vowed to plant 50,000 trees in three (3) years time. Meanwhile, in the next 50 years we will smell the fuel emissions coming from buses, jeepneys, cars and motorcycles. The city will add more "One Way Streets" to accomodate the traffic congestion leading and emanating from this Mall. One 100 year old tree has a value of P18 million pesos (roughly US $418,605) and can absorb the emissions of 9 buses. If a fifty year old tree is valued at P9million pesos, these 30 year old trees meant to be cut, transferred "earthballed" would be valued at around P6 million pesos (roughly $139,535). Multiply that by 182 trees, you have around $25,395,370 

On a personal level, I was a young Girl Scout that planted some of those trees. Before the mall came to existence, the Pines Hotel stood there. It was there that I met my husband who was taking the Advanced Harvard Management Course. I was introduced to him on the Fall of Bastille - July 14th. Six weeks later, we got married.
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