On a journey to the re-conquest of the World War II in the Philippines, you may encounter the geothermal electric plants near Ormoc, the longest bridge in the Philippines, and rare glimpse of Mac Arthur’s memorial park. However, an even rarer person is yet to be seen and worth the visit; “Gary Dabasol.”

Photo by Dan Niez

A 65-year old man from Leyte has done wonders after the devastating storms have hit the Philippines. Gary has planted his own mangrove forest in Matalom, Leyte.

Though he has been immersed with mangrove planting since he was a child, the typhoon Yolanda in 2013 prompted him to do something. Hence, he planted mangroves in a 35 meters by 60 to 80 meters of land.

Photo by Dan Niez

He knew that one of the best ways to prevent the surge of the storm was to plant mangroves. Yes, it is not easy, but he did it. He may not have an assurance that this mangrove forest will stop the surge, but he knew by then that it will help.

It may have not been easy considering the lack of resources, but he was able to do it. There really is no stopping for someone who is as dedicated as Gary.

We now have more reasons to visit Leyte after the pandemic. Lucky for the residents in Matalom, they have their own “mangrove forest man” to help save our common home.

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