SMEC collaborated recently with Make a Difference (MAD) Travel, a social enterprise that advocates eco-tourism, community development, and environmental conservation, for a tree planting initiative in the Philippines. This endeavour saw around 60 SMEC employees and family members participating in a unique activity, taking a distinctive approach to tree planting, and fostering deeper connections with the Dumagat Indigenous People.

The event took place at Mount Purro Nature Reserve, located in Antipolo, Rizal, some 40 km east of Metro Manila. This collaboration aimed to contribute to the restoration of the 26,000-hectare Upper Marikina Watershed, which plays a critical role in water conservation, particularly in preventing floods during the rainy season and maintaining water supply during the dry season in Metro Manila. This region is home to over 600 families of the Dumagat community.


SMEC engaged with upland farmers belonging to the Dumagat tribe to support the rehabilitation of the watershed. A key aspect involved an interactive session where SMEC teams participated in potting seeds of fruit-bearing trees like coffee, sugar apple, and more. The primary goal was to pot as many seeds and seedlings as possible. This resulted in the potting of nearly 1,000 seeds and seedlings. The Dumagats will later plant these in the nearby mountains, where restoration initiatives are most needed. Fruit-bearing trees were chosen as they offer the Dumagats a sustainable source of livelihood.


The day was enriched with various activities, aiming to raise a more wholistic view on reforestation and to foster cultural exchange:


  • A mini-trail experience allowed participants to explore the diverse tree species at the Mount Purro Nature Reserve, offering a deeper understanding of the area’s rich ecosystem.
  • Engagement with the Dumagat community provided insights into their unique way of life and included a demonstration of traditional cooking techniques using bamboo poles.
  • An educational session highlighted the significance of reforestation, emphasising its role in mitigating climate change and its impact on urban communities.


The event underscored SMEC’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, reinforcing the interconnectedness between sustainable actions and a better future. It highlighted the significance of collaborative environmental advocacy, cultural immersion, and the importance of responsible practices for the environment and local communities.

This initiative stands as a testament to SMEC’s dedication to making a meaningful and lasting impact, not just in the environment but also in the lives of the communities in areas where we operate. This tree planting activity, with its ecotourism component, reflects our wholistic approach to CSR, weaving together environmental conservation and community development for a sustainable future.
———— Libby Paholski, SMEC’s CSR Chairperson in SEA & Pacific