Loren Legarda: Avenue Of Green Trees, Poetry And Dreams

by: jun asuncion                                                                           



Loren Legarda, Joyce Kilmer and The Sniper – What connects them together? It’s their love or need for trees.

loren1Loren Legarda, a  Filipina senator. Loren’s love for trees is known,  a love which manifested itself early in childhood. She claims to have had a happy childhood “climbing trees and playing jackstones” in that Malabon compound where she grew up. She took this love for the trees with her all her life. Last year,  her “Luntiang Pilipinas” (Green Philippines), the urban forestry program founded by Loren which has already planted millions of trees across the Philippines, celebrated its 10th Anniversary launching at the same time the 10 million trees campaign. It’s a plus for all of us Filipinos, for nature and for  the other species dependent on trees. Indeed, it’s much more pleasant to imagine to have 10 million trees more, than to have 10 million trees less in the few years to come.






kilmer_joyceJoyce Kilmer, an American writer, poet and soldier, a man from another place and time. He was born on December 6, 1886 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Joyce Kilmer wrote the famous poem  “Trees” on February 2, 1913, in the Kilmer home in Mahwah, New Jersey. Every pupil on earth taking up American literature  knows this poem- or has to memorize this poem at one point in his elementary years. Let’s visit this poem again: 


                  –  Trees –

   I think that I shall never see
   A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.




sniperThe Unknown, a German sniper.

He, too, was sent to France probably the same year as Kilmer. The training of a sniper was hard and demanded precision in all kinds of situations. Imperial Germany was the first to use snipers in war and they were dreaded by their enemies for their deadliness and efficiency because of their training and their high-quality manufactured scope lenses mounted on their equally high quality rifles. Yet snipers were taught not only to pick off their targets but above all to respect and be one with the environment that conceals them, with the stones, grass, vines and green trees.


 A Filipina legislator between an American Poet and a German Sniper. Three for the road, three kinds of trade, three nationalities that met in the avenue of green trees, poetry and dreams.

The End. The poet and soldier Kilmer fought for the United States during the First World War against Germany and was killed in France on July 30, 1918 at the age of 31-  by this  unknown German sniper who probably was himself on a tree or beside it when his scope spotted the scouting Kilmer somewhere  on a hill. His bullet pierced through Kilmer’s soft, poetic head, killing him instantly.

“It was a dirty way to die!
To put a bullet through your head
And make a silly woman cry!”

The irony of fate never dies. These lines above were authored also by Kilmer before he went to war, from his poem “To a Young Poet Who Killed Himself”. Time  and space transcending, this German sniper would have  cried out himself:

“It was a dirty way to kill!
To shoot a bullet through your head,
Oh, poor poet Kilmer.
And make a woman senator cry!”

Three events in history, three people doing their duty- and a love that connects them, the love for the tree. The poet Kilmer immortalized the tree with his poem, and if the target in his scope shared his love or need for the trees, that German sniper had no way of knowing it. He was  just doing his duty.

The Beginning. And so is Loren until now, just doing her duty as she keeps on planting trees. For her, it’s a sacred duty, a homage to that old love for the trees in Malabon compound that gave her coolness and shades during those hot summer vacation days, trees that she climbed and in whose bosom she perhaps dreamed of the possibilities that life would offer her once she gets to Manila to study- and to work.

Dreams came true but this was no reason to stop working for long ago she was saddened by the fact that Kilmer’s Trees were disappearing, landslides and floods were taking the lives of farmers and that  the global warming has now come to take its toll.

But now is no time for tears but is high time to act,  to resort to the power of the pen by writing legislation and to take up the shovel and help plant trees. Loren authored a number of legislation including those for our environment which have been passed into laws and her Luntiang Pilipinashas been building urban parks for years already. As she admits, her greening campaign is not aimed at competing the tree planting program by other organizations from other sectors or the annually held Arbor Day but to supplement them by focusing on restoring green in cities and municipalities by developing Forest Parks and planting trees along roadsides.

Sincerity is seen in the constancy of action over long period of time, a moral value that is scarce in a ningas-cogon infested political landscape. We all know that politics is never an easy arena in the Philippines and it is virtually impossible, if not naive, to expect to find a spotless, angelic public servant. For no matter how a politician tries to stay honestly to his belief and good principles, there are just moments in a politician’s life where principles and values collide with each other, where one has to make compromises even between two or more good arguments that seem to contradict each other at a given point in time and situation. But what counts is that the politician stays by his  duty and good intentions for his constituents- which he cannot always please- and that he  is aware that he is sacrificing a good principle for a more higher one. This is not always easy to explain to the conditioned public mind. For man’s perception of things around him is greatly influenced by the past and current events and that man even tends to re-interpret the past differently depending on the current events, also the reason behind why Luntiang Pilipinas is becoming more and more of a necessity than just a style and why Kilmer’s poem- which turned ninety-six years old this month-  is gaining popularity again because of current destruction of trees and the life threatening effects of global warming.

Be that as it may, today’s Filipinos should free their mind from the myriad of trivial things that divert it from the most essential in Philippine politics. Our judgment should never be based upon trivialities that we hear and see that only muddle our mind but on the essence and substance of a political argument or result. Loren’s legislative achievements, the laws and pending  Bills which she authored for us and her staunch engagement to ecological preservation and restoration are solid facts that attest to the essence and substance of this lady senator. These facts should simply guide our judgement when we contemplate about our future.

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 Bulan Observer


Note: Official photos provided to Bulan Observer by Senator Loren  Legarda through her press relations head Jing Magsaysay. / jun asuncion


  For The Record:


Loren seeks Senate probe on relief aid for Bicol folk.

Publication: Manila Bulletin
Date: Sunday, August 12 2007
Senator Loren Legarda said the other day she would call for a Senate investigation into complaints by Bicol victims of last year’s disastrous typhoons and floods that the foreign relief assistance intended for them had not been sufficiently distributed.
Loren was reacting to an interview
over radio DWAR in which she was asked to react to the report of Bicol Bishop Lucilo Quiambao that many victims of the previous year’s typhoons and floods in Bicol had complained that foreign and local relief assistance intended for them did not reach them.
“I think this calls for a Senate investigation,” Loren said.
In the same interview, Loren also urged the government and civil society to step up the program of reforestation and dredging of rivers to prevent floods that cost heavy damage to lives and properties during the rainy season.
Loren said that more trees should be planted in urban and rural areas, as well as in deforested localities, to control floods during the rainy season.
She also declared that the national and local governments, as well as the barangays, should conduct sustained and intensified efforts to clean canals, rivers and other waterways of garbage and other debris so as to enable rainwater to flow smoothly.
Loren said she would intensify the activities of her Luntiang Filipinas (Green Philippines) Foundation which has already planted two million trees throughout the country to improve the environment and prevent floods.
Informed about complaints by Bicolresidents that millions of pesos in foreign and local financial assistance given to them in connection with last year’s disastrous floods have not reached them in adequate amounts, Loren agreed that there is indeed need for a Senate investigation on the matter.
Loren said that the Department of Welfare and Social Development and other government relief agencies should see to it that relief assistance to victims of typhoons, earthquakes and other natural or man-made calamities should be fully and immediately given the victims to accomplish the desired relief.
“I think Congress should pass legislation that would ensure that disaster and emergency relief aid should be totally and properly distributed to calamity victims by providing for penalties for fraud and negligence in the distribution of relief goods,” Loren explained.
Asked to react about the latest survey finding of Pulse Asia that she was the “most trusted” public figure in the Philippines, Loren declared that she was indeed thankful to the people for giving her this distinction. “I consider this a great responsibility and a further obligation to work harder for the good of our people in order to fulfill their expectations,” Loren told radio station DZAR.
Informed that the survey could encourage moves to make her run for president in 2010, Loren said that she is not at present thinking of the presidential elections.


7  of 30 measures passed by Senate penned by Loren                                                                      


Sen. Loren Legarda authored seven of the 30 bills that had been passed on third reading by the Senate, just one year into the 14th Congress.
“I’m inspired and elated considering the number of my colleagues who are all pushing for the passage of their respective pet bills,” said Legarda.

She stressed that the passage of her bills and the veritable adoption by the House of bills for which she had filed counterpart measures at the Senate are motivating her to work doubly hard.

“It’s work, work, work for me, in and out of the Senate session halls. If it’s not physically impossible, I’d like to be a 24/7 senator since there’s no end to what we can do, in and out of the Senate, to fight poverty and improve the quality of life of our people,” Legarda said.

Legarda is also an environmental advocate, being the chair and founder of Luntiang Pilipinas. Likewise, she’s been working to alleviate poverty, improve education, and push women’s health and empowerment through foundations she had established.

Her seven bills that had been passed by the Senate are the Batas Kasambahay Act, the Cheaper Medicines Act, Environmental Awareness through Education Act, Decriminalizing Vagrancy, Strengthening and Expanding the Special Program for the Employment of Students, the Pre-Need Code, and Act Lowering the Amusement Tax on the Film Industry.

Of the 52 bills passed on third reading by the House, seven have Senate counterparts that Legarda also authored.

Theseare House Bill 375 or the Billion Trees Act, HB 3293 on amendments to the Bureau of Food and Drugs Act, HB 4114 amending the Provincial Water Utilities Act, HB 4253 creating the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, HB 3956 or the Career Executive System Act, HB 4193 or the Renewable Energy Act, and HB 1387 creating the Disabilities Affairs Office.


RP’s Sen. Loren Legarda: The first to be appointed “Champion” for disaster risk reduction
December 2, 20086:44 pm by pna
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec. 2 – The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) secretariat has appointed Senator Loren Legarda of the Philippines as the first “champion” for disaster risk reduction.
The is the first time UNISDR, the UN body which promotes disaster prevention, is engaging a high level parliamentarian to champion and support its advocacy work.

UNISDR Director Salvano Bricenoannounced the appointment at a news conference in conjunction with the Third Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction which began here today at the Putra World Trade Centre.

Speaking to reporters, Legarda said, the appointment would inspire her to work harder.

“There is no more fitting time to say that reducing disaster risks is a moral imperative, a social responsibility, than in these times of growing vulnerabilities and persistent poverty and suffering caused by disasters,” she said.

She said now was the time to translate political commitment into concrete actions at national and local government levels, as countries were still far from achieving the goals of the Hyogo Framework for Action.

Legarda, a former broadcast journalist, among other things, founded the “Luntiang Pilipinas” (Green Philippines) in 1998 to promote public awareness on various issues concerning the environment and had also received the Philippines’ Ten Outstanding Young Men and Women Award.

More recently, in October this year, Legarda, together with UNISDR, convened the first consultative meeting with parliamentarians on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in Manila.

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. (PNA/Bernama)


People urged to remain vigilant on Cha-cha drive

Sen. Loren Legarda called on the people yesterday to be vigilant in discerning the true intentions of those pushing to amend the Constitution.
Legarda said Filipinos have reason to be wary that the government may be floating the idea of Charter change anew to extend the term of the present administration.

She lauded the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines led by its president, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, for taking a stand against tampering with the organic law of the land to serve ulterior motives.

“Charter change per seis not bad, but because of the seeming underhanded intention of the government, people are left wondering why Charter change is being pushed,” Senator Legarda said.

The senator was among the first to question the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on Ancestral Domain between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). She said the Arroyo administration may have seen it as an opportunity to revive the call for Charter change when constitutional issues were raised on certain provisions in the MoA.

“Now that the MoA is scheduled for a thorough review, there is no apparent necessity to revive the call for Charter change at this time” Legarda said.


Manila Bulletin Online

Loren wins Indian environmental award

Former senator Loren Legarda will be conferred the prestigious Global Award in the Field of the Environmentby the Priyadarshni Academy of India during its 20th anniversary celebration at the Hotel Oberoi Towers in Mumbai, India on Sept. 19.
Listed in 2001 in the Global 500 Honor Roll of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), Legarda was recognized by the Indian organization for leading a successful environmental conservation program and helping craft Philippine conservation laws while serving as senator.

“It affords us great pleasure to inform you that the Priyadarshni Academy has decided to confer upon you its prestigious Global Award,” said academy chairman Nanik Rupani and Global Awards advisory committee chairman Dr. Ram Tarneja in their letter to Legarda.

“The Academy�s awards function is an opportunity for us to accord acknowledgment and felicitate outstanding achievements of distinguished individuals in their respective disciplines like literature, fine arts, athletics, environment protection, science and technology and such endeavors that promote social welfare and contribute to national and global development,” they said.

Legarda would be joining the ranks of Priyadarshni honorees like Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri, former British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Sir Adrian Cadbury of Cadbury Schweppes, and Sharp Corp. Japan President Katsuhiko Machida, among others.

The academy is a sociocultural organization founded in 1985 to promote internal relations, national integration and brotherhood, adult and children�s literacy, nutrition, and care for the handicapped and to raise awareness about drug addiction and diseases like AIDS.

Like the UNEP, the Priyadarshni Academy has decided to make Legarda its honoree for the protection of the environment for her highly successful environmental campaign that includes planting over a million trees all over the country through her Luntiang Pilipinas Foundation.

She was also cited for her active participation in the enactment of significant environmental legislation like the Philippine Clean Air Act (RA 8479), Mt. Kitanglad Protected Area Act (RA8978), Batanes Protected Area Act (RA 8991), and the Integrated Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003).

Among her priority measures when she was a senator were the Clean Water Bill, Sustainable Forest Management Act, and the National Landmarks Conservation Act.



Loren tops Pulse Asia survey on RP’s most trusted public figures

Senatorial candidate Loren Legarda, a consistent survey topnotcher, is also the most trusted public figure in the country, according to the latest Pulse Asia nationwide poll conducted from April 21 to 25.
The Genuine Opposition candidate garnered 65 percent of the votes of 1,800 respondents.

Legarda is followed by Senator Manny Villar, 57 percent; Representative Francis Escudero 54 percent; Senator Francis Pangilinan, 52 percent; Representative Noynoy Aquino, 51 percent; Senator Panfilo Lacson, 50 percent; Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, 48 percent; Senator Edgardo Angara, 48 percent; Senator Mar Roxas, 47 percent; and Senator Joker Arroyo, 44 percent.

“I am honored by this survey result as it is not easy to earn someone’s trust, much more the trust of the entire nation,” Legarda said.

Like Legarda, Villar, Escudero, Aquino, Lacson and Cayetano are running under the opposition slate.

The former senator also topped the Pulse Asia survey held on the same dates getting a 59.6 percent acceptance rating.

In the same trust rating survey, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo only got 26 percent while former President Fidel V. Ramos was two points lower with 24 percent.

On the other hand, former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Joseph Estrada got 42 percent, and 38 percent respectively.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) scored 32 percent, but Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. got a measly 18 percent.

The election watchdog National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) got 33%.

Independent senatorial candidate former Senator Gringo Honasan and 1990 bar topnotcher Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III have trust ratings of 43% and 39%, respectivel

For more Facts about Senator Legarda, please click here  for the Archives of Manila Bulletin Online

or here  for the Senate Press Release Archives.

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