Sunday, December 16, 2012

RAFI, greening back Cebu, then the Philippines

Recent events have shown the vulnerability of the Philippines to the ill effects of climate change. Flooding and landslides have done considerable damage to life and property in various parts of the country. And the effects are worsened with continuing loss of forest cover.

According to the environmental science news site, the Philippines lost a third of its forest cover between 1990-2005 endangering not just humans but more especially the indigenous wildlife that depend on it.

Luckily, an organization from Cebu is bringing back the green in the environment, taking the lead, not just in preserving our forest but in making them --- the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. or RAFI.

RAFI is a family-based social development foundation founded by Don Ramon Aboitiz in 1966. It began as a philanthropic undertaking supporting the causes of charitable groups. 

Continuing what Don Ramon started was Eduardo, Don Ramon’s son, who institutionalized RAFI, making it a people-oriented, social development organization.

RAFI's vision is “Touching People, Shaping the Future” and it is working towards “elevating lives through a comprehensive approach that champions best practices in community development. RAFI has five focus areas of its programs and services, namely, Microfinance and Entrepreneurship, Culture and Heritage, Leadership and Citizenship, Education, and Integrated Development.

The GREENIN Philippines Program of RAFI which stands for Generation Redemption and Expansion of Natural Resources Initiatives Philippines Program is geared towards the advocacy of protecting and rehabilitating the environment with Cebu as starting point. This program includes tree-planting activities however they are not of the traditional kind.

For one, the program uses native trees for forest development to help restore the country’s natural heritage, native wildlife species and local endangered tree species.

Prior to tree-planting, potential areas are surveyed and studied to determine which tree species would likely succeed to grow. With running as a sport currently popular in Cebu, tree planting activities have been preceded by a fun run.

To ensure that the planted seedlings grow to become forests, post-planting activities and follow-ups like the Run to Take Care were done with the guidance of forestry experts and the cooperation of local government units, volunteers and those who originally planted the seedlings. Others like Adopt-a-Mountain and the Tree that Binds, a social networking approach that gives “tree owners” the chance to communicate about their tree growing activities and progress are lined up as well.

For its efforts in restoring the health of the environment, RAFI has tapped various sectors of society.
It partnered with local government units (LGUs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), schools, youth leaders, hotels, mountaineers, bloggers, and business groups among many others to help develop forests in areas under the program. And many have responded to the call.

To support the forest development initiative, native tree nurseries are established where seedlings are maintained not only in RAFI’s main nursery but also in qualified satellite nurseries in the localities. These nurseries become sources of quality native tree seedlings for the different tree planting activities.

To encourage wider participation of the public in the conduct of seedling production and subsequent planting in the barangays even outside Cebu, RAFI has tied with the Department of Interior and Local Government’s Billion Trees Program. And RAFI continues to look for more partners in this particular advocacy as they upscale this collaborative program nationwide.

RAFI's advocacies including that for greening is worth the support of the students and the youth sector.

To know more about RAFI and its other projects and initiatives, visit

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