Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree. This is the last line of a Joyce Kilmer poem. Here in Bohol, people not only make a tree, they grow an entire man-made forest. Located at the border of the Bilar and Loboc towns in Bohol, the man-made forest is a 2-kilometer stretch of purposely-planted mahogany trees, in the middle of which the road leading to the Chocolate Hills cuts through.
Somebody from a group asked, why call it a man-made forest and what’s the big deal with it? These questions made me think and, if only the person who asked the questions didn’t happen to be my wife, I would have probably shot back with some cute, pointed answer (if I did that to her, I won’t probably be alive to write this post). I would have said that one doesn’t ask such questions, while parked under the majestic mahogany trees lining the road, becoming more dense by the year that the rays of the sun fight their way to get through. One should just stand there in amazement. Still, I politely offered the following answers.
There are forests known as first-growth, the virgin forests. Once cut and the trees grow back, it becomes a second-growth forest. While a man-made forest is not along that same categorization, maybe it’s a way of indicating that the original forest cover here was wiped out and, in its place, the trees were planted by the residents of Bohol.
To see what’s impressive about the man-made forest, you don’t only look at the place where the forest is located. You look at the totality of Bohol. It’s a clean, environment-friendly place. Boholanos consciously maintain the cleanliness of the Loboc River. They purposely protect their cultural and natural heritage. While others pay lip service to conservation, Boholanos walk the talk, so to speak, and plant trees — an entire stretch of trees. What’s more impressive is their success in weaving an entire story around the man-made forest which makes tourists go and see it. And tourists, as you know, pump cash into the local economy of Bohol. Generating income while preserving nature. That’s impressive.