Couples in Borongan City, Eastern Samar who wish to get married are now required to plant mangrove trees before they are issued a marriage license and given a wedding schedule by the mayor.

Surprisingly, despite the additional requirement on top of the usual documentation needed to be submitted to be able to get married, many couples support the initiative.

Photo: BORONGAN COUPLE. Jay-Ar Tavera and his wife, Creightania Coles, plant mangroves before getting married last December. The local government of Borongan in Eastern Samar now requires couples applying for a marriage license to plant mangroves before they are issued one. (Photo courtesy of Borongan City Information Office)

Jay-Ar Tavera and his wife, Creightania Coles, planted 10 mangrove trees before getting married last December 23.

“We were happy when we learned about this project. This initiative is really good. We are believers that we should take care of our environment,” Jay-Ar said.

He and Creightania prepared arduously to make sure that the wedding would happen as planned.

However, being environment lovers, the two did not find the new policy as a burden.

Instead, they saw the directive as “leaving a green legacy.”

“We may not see it now because the plants are still small, but I’m pretty sure five to 10 years from now we would see the effect of what the project has done,” Tavera said.

Meanwhile, another couple who got married on the same date, Estephine Joy Ecle and her partner Jaime Basilga Jr., enjoyed the activity and found it worthwhile.

“We enjoyed planting trees and it is also a form of bonding before we get married,” Estephine Joy said.

The two couples, who were the first to participate in the new initiative, tied the knot before Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda.

Even netizens expressed support for the program.

“Love the idea of planting trees. It will help to protect the environment and the coastal area of Samar. But also the newlyweds can share their stories with their children,” Kle de Voute said in her post.

Netizens said the result of the initiative may not be seen and felt immediately but noted that future generations would surely benefit from it.

“Pag-usbong ng pag-ibig, pag-usbong ng puno (love grows, and so do trees),” Maribel Contado said.

Agda said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that he is so far satisfied with the outcome of the “additional requirement” for the marriage license.

He said he noticed that many are getting married amid the pandemic and the onslaught of typhoons last year, and so he thought about making the couples plant trees.

Agda said the local government provides the seedlings and the area where the mangroves would be planted.

“Ang role lang nila is magtanim, tapos maggawa ng bakod and then put their name tag sa bakod. Ang city government na ang bahalang magpalaki (Their role is to plant and put up a fence where they would attach their name tag. The city government will take care of the plants),” he said.

Agda added that because the couple would put their names on trees and the date they planted them, it would be a legacy that they could share with their children.

The project, he said, is like hitting “three” birds with one stone, as it would do the environment a lot of good, protect the town from future calamities, and create environmental awareness among the people.

Another advantage is that the city government would be able to save on labor costs, with the couples planting instead of hired people.

More than 100 mangrove plants have been planted along Borongan Bay and Agda said so far, nobody has complained. (Marita Moaje, PNA)