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Lessons from storms

SUPER Typhoon Reming didn’t pack much mayhem unlike the 17th howler that blew into town, which was Milenyo. We’re still on bended knees, asking whoever brews those storms out there to bring two or three more howlers here.

We need torrents of rain to fill in our dams and reservoirs in anticipation of a blowtorch spell in the summer months—why, less than full water reservoirs means havoc on staple crop production and the expected rice bumper harvest to stave off costly rice imports.

Dapat mapuno ang ating mga imbakan. Para maging sapat din ang pantustos na tubig sa mga kabahayan at industriya sa mga lungsod.

The root word puno translates to tree and leader in the Filipino lexicon. Each meaning can be dealt the test of tempests.

Shallow-rooted trees like knife acacia, falcatta, and aratiles are easily blown down by gale-force winds. For such trees, their roots merely spread out and cover much ground. That’s not unlike a leader’s outcroppings whose hands dip in every pie and coffer. Their roots hardly stab deep down into the earth’s bowels unlike the enduring kamagong, tamarind, yakal and narra—trees whose roots cover lesser yet deeper ground.

We expect the same depth of grasp from our puno or pinuno. A depth that allows ‘em to withstand withering storms and crises to bring forth cooling shade and fruits. Or do we really expect that much from ‘em?

To force shallow-rooted trees to stab their roots deeper into the ground, tree experts do something painful to such trees—top cutting. After say, three or five years, about three meters of the trunk is left to stand. The top is lopped. We call that top-cutting— excess boughs and branches can be used as fuel firewood. Such a temporary sacrifice induces the primary roots to go deeper and cling more tenaciously into earth. Now that’s all too down-to-earth a lesson.

We really haven’t learned such elemental lessons from the yearly passage of storms in these parts.

Even a family tree of a puno or pinuno ought to snip off pernicious members and pesky branches to gain much firmer footing on solid ground.

Now, aren’t those lessons so simple, so sublimely beautiful?

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