August 2010 - I went to the La Mesa watershed to check out the area where we’ll be conducting our tree planting activity. (Take note that La Mesa Watershed is about 20 minutes away from the La Mesa Ecopark though both are inside a single property.) I thought I wasn’t going to break a sweat so I just went there with shorts, a dri fit shirt and hiking shoes. I didn’t even bother bringing something to tie my hair or a towel to clean myself up afterwards.
As soon as I sat inside the briefing area to discuss with Darryn and Badette – our contacts from Bantay Kalikasan, the mosquitoes started feasting on me. I had completely forgotten to bring a mosquito repellant. Prior to my visit, our contacts have stressed out that I should avoid cologne, perfume or other lotions. That morning, I had applied a fragrant lotion - sweet smelling shea butter which I'm pretty sure those mosquitos were utterly grateful for.
Ten minutes later, I was accompanied by Badette, their agriculturist and Tata (our adventurous company driver) for a 40 minute hike towards the tree planting site. Weather was so humid. The mosquitos continued attacking us all the way to the site. Though I was scratching myself the whole time, I was extremely amazed at the thick foliage at the La Mesa Dam. (Great work Bantay Kalikasaan!) Kuya, their agriculturist was very generous in educating us about the different species of plants and insects we encountered along the way. I saw some birds, snails, grasshoppers and butterflies. Then there were the trees, herbs, plants which I couldn’t recall the names, except for Banaba and Kupang. Though I was appreciative of his efforts in passing knowledge to us, I was only interested in one thing and was quite grateful that kuya answered me patiently because each time he points a plant or something, I would ask – “Nakakain ba yan?” (Is that edible?). Even when he picked up some clams from the lake and showed him to us I asked if I could eat it already. There was also another instance when he pointed a certain specie of grasshopper and I asked if it tasted like chicken when cooked. He was nice enough not to tease me about my insatiable desire for food.
We took some pictures by the river and headed back. By the time we reached the briefing area, my legs were stained with mud and filled with mosquito bites. I was also so hungry and thirsty! Since I didn’t bring any towel or extra clothes, I was so dirty when I got inside the van but despite my untidy appearance, we made a quick stop to Chowking where me and tatang shared a meal which we devoured completely.