Continue to Learn

Hebrews 6:2
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…

“The secret to mastery in any field is to forever be a student.” – ​Martin Palmer

How can a third year highschool student become a known environmentalist, dendrologist and taxonomist? That’s the story of Rene Vendiola, much known as Tatay Ete from Bacong, Negros Oriental. In 1972 when Martial Law was declared he was in third year high school, at the East Visayan School of Arts and Trade. School was stopped at that time and he decided to go to Sta. Catalina where his parents decided to live and started farming. Even when school resumed, he no longer continued to study. While in Bacong he was able to dig artifacts and pottery of ancient times which he soon sold to antique collectors and with the amount of P600 pesos they were able to buy 6 hectares of land.

When he was in Sta. Catalina he continued farming and got married and built a family of his own. Life was good until war broke out between the Philippine Constabulary and National Peoples’ Army in 1986. He decided to go back to Bacong and tilled the land that he inherited from his parents to make ends meet.

Aside from farming, since he was so familiar with the mountains in Negros Oriental, he became a field guide with those who climbed the mountains there. With his work as a guide, there he met a lot of environmentalist that influenced him into having a heart of taking care of our environment. He became aware of the need to protect our endemic and endangered species that led him to create a mini-forest in his land now known as Liptong Woodland. Starting from the few trees that he planted in 2006, now he has around 24 species of endemic and highly endangered species of trees, flora and fauna. One of those is what he calls the “magnificent maiden,” one of the most beautiful flowers in the Philippines. Tatay Ete is very familiar with the native plants and trees there in the mountains and knows very well its’ native names and scientific names as well.

Picture of the Magnificient Maiden: (please see attachment on email)

Today, the local government unit of Bacong under the leadership of Mayor Lenin Alviola is implementing a reforestation project in a 100-hectare watershed within the town, with the help of Tatay Ete. His Liptong Woodland example encouraged biologist Apolinario Carino to start planting endemic trees in a parcel of land he bought near Tatay Ete’s Liptong Woodland.

As of the moment, Tatay Ete’s mini forest, Liptong Woodland stands as a living laboratory for learning on local and endemic flora and fauna.

In March 2012, Tatay Ete won the prestigious Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Award in the Exemplary Individual category for his work on Rainforestation in Negros Oriental, Philippines. He was selected among 300 nominees. The Triennial RAFI Awards recognize individuals and organizations “whose efforts bring about change and enhance the quality of life of various groups and communities”, and is considered the premier social award in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Watch this video to know more of Tatay Ete. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUchjvElSXg

What made this third year high school achieve such great accomplishment and contribution to his community? One of his secrets is his childlike curiosity for learning. According to his son, his father continued to read books and learn from the experts.

How truly this man illustrated what Martin Palmer said, “The secret to mastery in any field is to forever be a student.”

We should never stop learning, that’s the way to expand our world and lead to excellence. Many of us remain where we are because we decided have to stop studying or we kept ourselves to the elementary stuffs of life. In Hebrews 6, this was the problem of the Christians then. They were not maturing or moving forward because they remained in the elementary stuff of what they know about Christ and Christianity. They could have been teachers, passing on to the next generation what they know about Christ and life but they remained to be someone needed to be taught and never grew.

To Tatay Ete, that’s not what happened. Even his circumstance of not finishing school did not stop him from becoming the best that he could be where God has placed him because he continued to learn. He is now passing on to the next generation the preservation of biodiversity by training twenty students who are also training others and teaching in the community.

Friends are you growing in wherever God has placed you? Why not start by reading books that will help you master the field you were planted. Start being surrounded by the experts, learn from them and continue to develop your gift and talent that you may also share to the next generation. Remember “Learning is not attained by chance it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” -Abigail Adams

When you continue learning nobody can stop you from growing!


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