City Living can be toxic … really really toxic. Even me: somebody that lives in ‘A Manila Suburb’, I spent more than half of my day in the city and all of the stresses will surely get to you somehow. So every opportunity to get away from the hustling city life is okay even the corporate sponsored activities.
Okay that last part is not as bad as it looks. Every year, the company that I worked for participates in Arbor Day (fun fact: The Philippines institutionalized Arbor Day to be celebrated as early as 1947!) and as much as I love to participate every year, there is some participant quota so this year is my year. The venue for this year is the Biak-na-Bato National Park located in San Miguel, Bulacan. There are some reservations that I have as it is (as of this posting) already the rainy season and the last few news articles about the area is unpleasant.
So almost everything was arranged by the company and for once the weather is fine but as I said earlier, stress will and did come by me in the form of a very nasty flu. I was very perplexed as you could hear me coughing during the trip while everybody else is minding their own business. Going there during the weekday is okay if there is no massive re-concreting of the major highway. We reach the edge of the road near the planting site and the usual pep talk from the organizers and the local government and the first thing I notice is while the area is green, lush even, the trees are really sparse. Sure the road edge is fully planted with trees but the ridges that you could see clearly lack trees.
The descent were brutal. A ten minute walk with high gradient slopes at 10:00 am are not ideal and even before planting a single tree, my back is already wet. Just like the route, The planting site are rolling ridges and I was unfortunate enough to chance upon planting on the steeper ones. And we have to plant ten! And you cannot just plant it, there is a certain way to plant it to make sure the seedlings will have maximum chances of being trees. (I did not know the trees that I planted !shame!, though some of the other seedlings planted are Narra, Mahogany and Caballeros) The descent up was more brutal especially after spending about 20 minutes planting trees.
Of course we need to go the more famous famous part of the park: The park entrance (we actually planted on the other side of the park). Our packed lunch were waiting there courtesy of a fast food chain (The irony of city convenience in a nature park). The first thing you’ll notice is that the water is pristine! It’s very rare to see clean rivers these days that you really are awed. Much rarer are the housewives actually doing laundry in a river. I have always heard of the park of how historical and how good looking it is but I have never been to Biak-na-Bato but the thirty minutes or so of staying within the edges of the whole park made me realize what I could have been missing out (cave adventures!) and I really really want to return to explore the area further.
The return trip was fine but tiring until I stepped down from the bus on EDSA. The unpleasant vehicle noise hit my ears again, sighed and murmered “That was fun” then I started to cough violently. And then an epiphany: I rarely coughed during the whole time in Bulacan even after the activity on the bus going home. Now, I am not saying that being in the lush greenery made me well 100% or cure my flu but I think that de-stressing yourself really help your body and the sweat I produced may have carry out with it some toxins in my body. That made me think that constant activity that makes you sweat is a really good thing. Now I just (realistically, If I have time) need to book myself another trip to nature and sweat it out ASAP!