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The vanishing sampaloc trees along Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City


There was a time when Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City was called Sampaloc Avenue.   The tall, leafy tamarind trees that lined the street were planted by Tomas Morato himself, along with former President Manuel Quezon and journalism icon Alejandro Roces.   But the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has recently ordered them cut down. Vigilance   Residents and netizens alike have bewailed the DENR’s action, accusing the agency of not only causing harm to the environment but also tampering with the city's intangible heritage.   “It is a one-man battle here, this avenue, I’ve been telling them because I have preserved mine since 1938 in front of my building,” laments Manuel Morato, son of former Quezon City mayor Tomas Morato.   Morato recalls that his father and the former President would spend weekends together and that they would plant the seedlings along the avenue with the late veteran journalist Alejandro Roces.   The trees grew, but so did the population, and more and more trees had to be cut down to give way to parking lots and business establishments.   Morato related through his column that he has been vigilant in guarding the trees, checking every time a tree is to be cut down if the city government had issued a permit.   Roman Amable, a DENR forester said the trees had to be cut down.   In an interview with GMA News’ Mark Salazar, Amable pointed out that the trees were already infested with disease, and posed a public health threat.   According to Renato Bedia, a tree surgeon from the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation, a mature tree could provide enough oxygen supply to two people for a year. It could also absorb as much as 40-48 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.   The law mandates that every tree cut should be replaced by at least 50 seedlings. It takes 10-20 years, however, for seedlings to mature. — with Ralph Angelo Ty/ELR, GMA News
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