The Seed Specialist
In one of their field activities when she was in Grade 6, she met a forester who showed her the leaves of a Narra tree. With just one look, the forester was already able to identify the tree, an encounter that quickly gripped her fascination.
“Di jud ko kalimot sa dahon sa Narra, kaila jud ko ana. Then pag-abot sa college, dali ra kayo sa ako magtan-aw ug dahon (I can never forget the time I saw the leaves of Narra, I really know it. When I got to college, it was very easy for me to identify leaves),”
As a child, she witnessed how her father, a farmer-carpenter, would use numerous techniques on choosing wood suitable for the project he’s working on.
“Sauna akong tatay maghimo man ug sala set, mga cabinet. Ang fresh diay nga Narra if you put it in the water kay mu-green diay ang tubig. So, akoang mata kay anad na daan (My father used to make sala sets, cabinets and I learned that fresh Narra leaves a green tinge if you soak it in water),”
She marveled at the way these people were able to know the names of the trees, as if they were just greeting an old friend.
This fascination continued on even when she entered college, but never really entertained the idea of working with trees as she never really saw it as a profession. She traversed a somewhat practical route at that time – engineering.
From Engineering to Forestry
Growing up, Neña has always set her eyes on engineering as a career that she wanted to pursue. Until a friend told her that in engineering, “ma-losyang ra ka (you’ll age faster),” and later convinced her to try out another course.
Skeptical, she wanted to try out the classes first before shifting. She recalled that in one of the classes, she discovered that a profession such as Forestry existed and the professor at that class basically “brainwashed” her into shifting.
“I really learned to love it. Instead of transferring, gi-sturya ko sa Dean nga, “Nen, nindot man ang forestry. It’s an honorable profession, and a dying one kay gamay nalang ta. So help us (the Dean told me, “Nen, foresty is an honorable profession, and a dying one because there’s only a few of us”),”
Thus propelling her to a lifelong journey of campaigning for the preservation of nature.