It is rare that a multinational company toots its own horn when it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, especially when it comes to environment-related causes. Rarer still is the multinational automotive company that toots its own horn when it comes to tree-hugging CSR initiatives.

Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) is one of the latter.

Recently the Biñan(Laguna)-based company observed its eighth anniversary with an undertaking to establish a man-made forest strip in the province of Quezon. Dubbed as "ISUlong ang Kalikasan (Nurture Nature)," the undertaking aims to create a forest strip in a protected area within the Sitio Sapinit-Sta. Catalina-Barangay Silangang Malikboy-Atimonan area in Quezon province. This undertaking was done with the primary reason to help the said area get back on its feet, which was part of the area that was declared under a state of calamity in late November last year due to typhoons Winnie and Unding. In fact, 749 people were declared dead while 15,000 were displaced in the neighboring area of Infanta-Real, the region hardest hit by the said typhoons last year.

"Establishing a forest reserve perfectly complements Isuzu's main global thrust this year to institute what we call the SEE (Safety, Economy, Environment-Friendliness) technology which encompasses all Isuzu endeavors from product development, customer relations and corporate responsibility. All activities worldwide, including this event, are geared to meet the need for safety, economy and the protection of the environment," said IPC president Yoshifumi Komura.

This endeavor featured a donation of an initial 10,000 narra seedlings that were planted at the Sitio Sapinit reservation area, to be put under the care of the Quezon province Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) and the Quezon province Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO). PAMB and PENRO will be tasked to ensure that no tree in the reserve are will ever be cut or used for commercial purposes. The trees were planted with the help of the motoring journalists present at the event and the residents of Silangang Malikboy in Atimonan, Quezon province.

"A tree is a symbol of life and care; something we also want to compare with Isuzu. We try to give life to the many Filipino families, from our customers to our employees at the plant. This is our way of extending our care to more families in this community," said IPC vice-president for corporate business Arthur Balmadrid.

The event also featured a signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between IPC offcials, Quezon province vice-governor Jay Jay Suarez and DENR regional executive director Antonio Principe, turning over the care and stewardship of the 10,000 narra seedlings to the Quezon provincial government. In the same MOU, IPC will donate an additional 5,000 narra seedlings for planting in Infanta-Real and will help the Quezon province PAMB with its tree nursery project in the next two years as part of the ISUlong Ang Kalikasan program. Also, a marker was unveiled featuring the ISUlong Ang Kalikasan program and its future intentions, such as turning the parts of Atimonan into a nature park.

"There is a saying that 'If you don't stand for anything, you stand for nothing.' We at IPC stand for something to nurture nature. When we heard about the sad story that befell Quezon province, we at IPC realized we could maybe move out of Laguna and go farther south," added Mr. Balmadrid.

Mr. Balmadrid also added that the project was conceptualized for IPC's anniversary because they wanted to give back to society something helpful, meaningful and relevant. "With the good help of the local government, we will be able to ensure that the Quezon community will always be protected by the harshness of nature with these trees."