While the world’s attention is fixed at combating the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Port Management Office of Misamis Oriental/Cagayan de Oro (PMO MO/C) has not lose sight of its unwavering commitment for environmental protection and sustainability as the PMO capped the Earth Month Celebration with greening activities on 30 April 2020.

The whole-day event kicked-off with the second round of vegetable harvesting in the PMO’s organic vegetable garden. The PMO key personnel including Port Manager Isidro V. Butaslac, Jr. together with the sisters of the Daughters of Charity congregation who are managing the Stella Maris – Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) Center, harvested cabbage, camote tops, malabar spinach (“alugbati”), malunggay, mango fruits, and bananas. The harvests were donated to the AoS, the PMO’s partner in the provision of practical and pastoral care to the PMO employees, wives and children of seafarers and porters at the Port of Cagayan de Oro. The PMO, through the AoS, was able to provide relief goods to the porters and their families who are severely affected by the health crisis.

Few weeks ago, the PMO had harvested Chinese cabbages and bananas which were distributed among the personnel for free.

Since the establishment of the said garden utilizing the former unused spaces along the CDO Port’s perimeter fence, it has been the PMO’s source of crops for feeding programs and other home use by its personnel including the security and utility workers. This health crisis necessitates the people to have good nutrition to boost the immune system to fight against the said fatal virus and other disease-causing bacteria; and this good nutrition generally comes from healthy food intake. Thus, the establishment of green gardens in ports is aimed for its stakeholders to have a direct source of organic and healthy crops.

Aside from the vegetables, fruit-bearing trees, medicinal plants, and ornamental plants are also being propagated in the garden. A compost pit is being maintained to be a source of fertile soil for the propagation of new plants.

In the afternoon, the PMO employees including those who are working from home, participated in a simultaneous video showing on the environmental effects and more facts about COVID-19, with electronic question-and-answer (Q&A) portion thereafter. To add fun and more learning, the organizers spearheaded by Environment Specialist Core D. Suan, added a short essay-writing contest related to the consequences and impact of COVID-19 to the environment and the people. The Q&A and essay-writing winners received prizes.

Before dusk, the personnel who were all geared with gardening tools, then proceeded to their designated areas around the Administrative Building for vegetable and tree planting. The Department of Agriculture Region 10 provided seeds and seedlings of various vegetable plants and fruit-bearing trees. Some PMO employees also donated additional seeds from their own gardens at home. These “mini” gardens around the ports will be maintained by the assigned Divisions. They shall be in-charge of the daily watering of seedlings and weeding.

The organic vegetable and tree gardens in ports also add to the greening of the CDO Port, a Green Port recognized by the APEC Green Port Award System. Soon enough, these gardens will not only be sources of edibles but also help in filtering the air for fresher and clean atmosphere at the ports. Hence, this initiative of gardening although simple, manifests the PMO’s collective action to help address and respond to both COVID-19 and the ongoing climate change threats that are confronting us.

The Earth Month is being celebrated in April of each year. — by IMR Lam