Behind the Trees: Kuyang’s Dedication to IIRR

This post comes from our Philippines Office and was written by staffers Joycen Sabio and Josephina Vicencio.

“Kuyang”, 75, is originally from Imus, Cavite. Upon finishing his degree in Agriculture and Animal Husbandry at Araneta University, he began working with Dr. Yen in the early stages of IIRR. He was one of Dr. Yen’s closest friends, and he eventually became the care-taker of the grounds at The Yen Center.  He worked with IIRR for more than 35 years.

After the structures were built around the IIRR campus in the early 1970s, “Kuyang” was mandated
to plant trees around the Yen Center campus with a $23 budget. IIRR founder Dr. James Yen’s original idea was to have every type of tree that can be found in the country planted on the campus, a challenge “Kuyang” readily accepted because he knew that he was planting for the future generation.

Given the limited budget for his assignment, he became very resourceful in finding ways to get various seedlings. He personally collected seeds found around the area, and asked the staff, particularly those working in the field,  to bring back seedlings for planting.

The eye-catching “Bottle tree” found on campus came from the University of the Philippines at Los Banos, while the Cherry Blossom trees came all the way from Palawan. The Cherry Blossoms were planted by the wives of the Prime Ministers of Thailand, Vietnam, and New Zealand. Former First Ladies Imelda Marcos and Lady Bird Johnson have also planted trees on the campus. Among the many varieties, mango, tamarind, and coconut trees can also be found on campus.

The great effort to bring biodiversity to campus is conducive for learning, and reflects IIRR’s commitment to the environment. Today, these trees serve as a playground for children, a nesting ground for birds, shade from sunlight, and providers of fresh air and a cooler ambiance.

If “Kuyang’s” dedication and hard work for the institution could be compared to a tree, it would be the Fire tree, as Fire trees bloom most in times of adversity. The tree turns the reddest during the hottest season of the year while other trees are weak and dry. With more than 35 years of service, “Kuyang” has definitely proven his unselfish passion and loyalty for his job and to the founder of rural reconstruction in the Philippines.

To this day, “Kuyang” continues to visit IIRR and share his most treasured stories about the campus and his time with Dr. Yen. “Kuyang” was the guest speaker during IIRR’s 51st Anniversary last October 2011, when staff and families gathered to listen as he reminisced about his time of service and how grateful he is for having served the institution.

“Kuyang” embodies the competence, creativity, compassion, and impact made of rural reconstruction workers. These characteristics in “Kuyang” have contributed much to the success of IIRR’s programs and set the institution apart from the rest.

We are thankful at IIRR to have such a loyal friend.

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