The Far Eastern University (FEU) Senior High School, Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management, and Community Extension Services accomplished their whole-day “Program Binhi: Mangrove Tree Planting and Heritage Tour” last April 26 at the municipalities of Taal, San Nicolas, and Lemery in Batangas.

                They focused on the following objectives:  cultural immersion, by showcasing the different heritage sites of Taal and Lemery; ecological education that oriented the students, parents, and other stakeholders on the importance of mangroves in maintaining the balance of the coastal ecosystem and in mitigating climate change; and hands-on conservation that inculcated awareness and stewardship by empowering the stakeholders as agents to safeguarding the natural resources and to show sustainable practices.

                Meanwhile the heritage tour to Taal was a revisit to the Spanish Colonial Period.  The first stop was a walk-through the ancestral houses that symbolize the rich heritage and history of the town.  One of the famous landmarks is the home of Marcela Agoncillo—maker of the first Philippine flag that was raised during the 1898 declaration of Philippine independence.   The next stop was at the Basilica of St. Martin of Tours, the largest church in Asia.

                The third stop was in the town of San Nicholas that is considered as the view point of Taal Volcano and the smallest municipality of Batangas.

                The last and the main event of the day was in Sitio Maibon, Barangay Palanas, Lemery.  Here was the mangrove planting site that was greatly damaged due to the disastrous volcanic eruption of Taal in January 2020.  They residents expressed their gratitude to FEU for spearheading a rehabilitation program that could uplift the current situation of the community and the environment for sustainability.

The initiative was implemented to provide awareness of the advocacies of FEU in adherence to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals #3 (Good health and well-being), SDG# 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), SDG # 14 (Life below Water), SDG #15 ( Life on Land), and SDG# 17 (Partnership for the Goals).