Tree Planting Ceremony Symbolizes Philippines, Hawaii Friendship

We also attended a tree planting ceremony between COVO, AMM, and the municipality of St. Bernard. COVO's Dayday Hopkins relayed, "This coconut tree connects St. Bernard to Hawai'i as we have coconut trees, too. Coconuts symbolize a tree of life. All parts of the tree are very usable, not only for food but also shelter, fibre, and industrial products."

Dr. Ansdell shared, "We're planting 2 trees and I think it's a fabulous idea to commemorate our visit here and our commitment to this area for the future. It really says so much, it's a beautiful way of doing it."

Reverend Alex Vergara of Aloha Medical Mission affirms, "In the midst of death, we have hope. We have a new beginning. These two plants signify growth that will come from this earth and rebuild this place."

Hopkins agreed, "We are here to give hope to life. The hope is, we plant the seed that will grow for future connections between the people that perished in this place and the AMM, whose goal is to help give life and health to people. This is the beginning of our relationship with these people."

St. Bernard Province's mayor, Maria Lim, came out to the tree dedication ceremony to cement this bond. Mayor Lim cried, "I'm just so touched that you people, you're so far away, yet you've come to help us. Seeing those people who have the big heart to help the people of St. Bernard."

Mayor Lim expressed her gratitude, "Thank you so much. You have come here. You are so many miles away yet you are here to help us. Helping our people. As you know our people here are poor."

Poor in material goods, rich in spirit.