Category Archives: The meiLBOX 5+1 Project

Send 5Letters+Plant 1Tree

See this and other pictures of trees in the meilBOX 5+1 Project IG page. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The meiLBOX 5+1 Project is now in Instagram!

Hello dear readers! I am happy to let you know that  The meilBOX 5+1 Project is now in Instagram (IG)! We can now swap updates and photos there! Here is the link.

I used to enjoy Facebook but I think that Instagram suits me better. For one, I do enjoy photography and being in Instagram allows us to share pictures as well as savor the beautiful work of other photo buffs. Thanks to my hubby and business partner, JR, I was able to learn how IG works! The use of hashtags was so “beyond me” at first but IG is worth the learning curve. Just seeing all those beautiful sites and photos make it worthwhile! Thanks to you guys and gals who created and continue to make IG a free platform for sharing and inspiring creativity.

Here is a couple of the first pictures that I posted there.

See this and other pictures of trees in the meilBOX 5+1 Project IG page. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Have you planted a tree recently? Let’s swap stories. Join me in my Instagram page! [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

meiLBOX 5+1 Project_IG post-4

To love and to hold. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Since The meilBOX 5+1 Project is about trees and letter-writing, I would be posting mostly pictures that I have taken of trees. [UPDATE as of Jan 2017: I realized it is better to include other subjects as well and make it a personal gallery page instead].

I will continue to use the site in sharing the pictures of tree-lovers and letter-writers who will participate in this project. If you are among them, please send me your pictures* (via the email addresses I had indicated in the project’s page here) and/or you can directly tag me through IG. You can do this by adding @the.meilbox.project and #meilbox in your IG post.

I will also appreciate it a lot if you can help me in passing the word around about this project. The more people who knows about this, the more letters we can send, the more love we can express and share, and the more trees we can plant!

Please help me in making this a greener, healthier, and happier world! Namaste!




*You can share/post any of these pictures: (i) a picture showing you in the post office as you mailed your letters/postcards; (ii) a picture showing the stamped letters that you are sending out (please don’t take a picture unless you are already in the post office and are actually sending the letters out); and (iii) a picture of you planting a tree.


This is not a paid blog. (I do not ask for any donation but I hope you can plant a tree on your birthday/s.)

Bring a smile to your friends' faces and help mitigate climate change. Send them handwritten letters and plant a tree. Join The meiLBOX5+1Project! (Photo taken by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin)

Best trees for urban areas

Happy EDSA People Power Day to all!

As I have promised in an old post under The meilBOX5+1Project category, I would be sharing with you some findings about the species of trees that are more location-appropriate. For example, in urban areas like Metro Manila, it is better to plant trees that will help in reducing air pollution and temperature (read: global warming).

Bring a smile to your friends' faces and help mitigate climate change. Send them handwritten letters and plant a tree. Join The meiLBOX5+1Project! (Photo taken by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin)

Bring a smile to your friends’ faces and help mitigate climate change. Send them handwritten letters and plant a tree. Join The meiLBOX5+1Project! (Photo taken by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin)

A report published by DENR in August 2006 (Suitable Species for Urban Forestry) listed down various tree species, which are recommended for urban areas. Listed below are 20 of those species:

1. Acacia (Raintree) – scientific name, Samanea saman

2. Balitbitan – scientific name, Cynometra ramiflora

3. Baston de San Jose – scientific name, Cordyline terminalis

4. Copper Leaf – scientific name, Acalypha wilkesiana

5. Guyabano – scientific name, Anona muricata L.

6. Kamagong – scientific name, Diospyros philippinensis

7. Maluko – scientific name, Pisonia grandis Span.

8. Adelfa – scientific name, Nerium indicum

9. African tulip – scientific name, Spathodea campanulata

10. Bandera española – scientific name, Canna indica L.

11. Bougainvilla – scientific name, Bougainvillaea spectabilis

12. Bunga – scientific name, Areca cathecu L.

13. Caballero – scientific name, Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Sw.

14. Campanilla – scientific name, Thevetia peruviana

15. Giant ipil-ipil – scientific name, Leucaena leucocephala

 16. Lumbang – scientific name,  Aleurites moluccana (L.)

17. Mayana – scientific name, Coleus scutellaroides or Coleus blumei Benth.

18. Narra – scientific name, Pterocarpus indicus Willd.

19. Palawan Cherry – scientific name, Cassia nodosa L.

20. Palomaria (Bitaog) – scientific name, Calophyllum inophyllum L.

You can get the complete list and know more about these trees by downloading the report through this link. I will be writing about the best species for rural settings in one of my future posts.
Hug a loved one, and, yes, plant a tree today! God bless!
This is not a paid blog. (I do not ask for any donation but I hope you can plant a tree on your birthday/s.)

Tree Planting 101

Planting trees carefully will help ensure that your tree will live up to old age. (Photo c/o

As promised, I will be writing more posts to help you in your participation in the The meiLBOX 5+1 Project.

An important question that may come into one’s mind when planning to plant a tree is, “How do I ensure that my tree will survive?” In fact, this question is sometimes taken for granted. I have heard of well-organized tree planting activities that eventually ended up being wasted because most of the trees did not survive. It is certainly easy to plant a tree but to do so without serious preparations increases the possibility of your tree not making it on his 1st birthday. :)

Therefore, I am sharing here some useful tips and guidance in ensuring that your tree will survive in the long haul. However, before we discuss the tips, let us first mention the importance of trees and why must we all do our share in ensuring that more trees are going to be planted in the Philippines and elsewhere.

We all know that trees support life itself, our core survival–we need the oxygen that is released by trees and other plants. Picture this: two fully-grown trees can provide enough oxygen for the needs of three to four persons. Therefore, if your household has 8 members, it is a good idea to plant at least 4 trees in your backyard! Of course, we have other activities beyond breathing so you can well imagine that we “owe” the earth more trees per year. (The Save the Amazon Rainforest has estimated that a person needs to plant 30 trees in a year so he can compensate for the carbon dioxide that he emits. Others may not agree with this figure but the principle still remains: we ought to give back if we continue to extract.)

Related to this is the issue on climate change. We all know that  trees are important in reducing global warming. Trees help remove carbon dioxide from the air by capturing and storing them and then releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. This natural process is considered as a form of “carbon sequestration.” (To know more about carbon sequestration, you may visit this link.) Experts agree that one acre of trees removes about 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide per year. That is a significant amount of carbon dioxide, right?

The next important role of trees is in preventing soil erosion and flooding. Because trees have elaborate root systems, they are able to help in holding the soil, soil particles, and water in place. The more trees we cut, the more of those root systems are eradicated from the ecosystem, the more chances are for soil erosion and eventually, flooding. Remember Typhoon Ondoy? It is likely that the floods will still happen but if there were more trees in and around the affected areas, the impact would have been lesser in gravity and scope.

Finally, trees provide us with water, food, shelter, medicine,and other materials. Look around you as you read this post and you will see that almost everything around you is sourced from or had been created with the help of plants and trees. Hugging a tree may really be a good idea after all! :)

Now that we have the basic information about trees, let me then give you some tips in ensuring that your trees will grow beautifully into old age. (I will not be writing here about appropriate types of trees for particular settings/locations because I will also devote a separate post for this equally important topic.)

1. Ensure that the hole for the tree is not too deep nor too narrow. Digging too deep will make it difficult for the roots to have sufficient oxygen; digging too narrow will limit the ability of the root system to benefit from the nutrients of the soil. A narrowly-planted tree will also have limited “anchor” in the soil, making it easy to break down or fall.

2. Ideally, the diameter of the hold should be 3 times the diameter of the “root ball” or container or the spread of the roots of your tree. This will provide enough space for the roots to establish itself. In the same principle, ensure also that the tree will not be too near another tree/s. The future foliage of your tree will also grow well if your tree is adequately “spaced” from the other tree/s.

3. Ensure that water will drain well in the hole. You don’t want your tree’s roots to drown in too much water so ensure that the water can easily drain. You can prevent this by raising the center of the bottom (of the hole) a little bit higher than the surrounding area so that your tree will “stand” higher in the middle of the hole. Do not “smoothen” the surface of the soil around the bottom and the sides of the hole because such will make it difficult for the water to drain well. Aerate the soil enough so that the water will easily pass through.

4. In the same principle cited in No. 3 above, do not compress the soil too much or the water will not reach the roots well.

5. If you are planting a tree which was originally grown inside a container (e.g., plastic bag), it is better to spread the roots well prior to planting (after removing the tree from the container/plastic) so that the roots are not compacted with the soil particles. You can free the roots by loosening up the soil through the use of your fingers or a blunt object (but do so with care so you will not hurt the roots). This procedure is important because if the roots are compacted, they may not grow well enough and the tree may eventually die. Remember to prune dead or damaged roots.

6. Return the backfill soil (combinations of peat moss, composted manure, topsoil, etc.) in the hole surrounding the tree using your hands and compress the soil adequately, avoiding too much pressure though so that the roots and soil can still breathe.

7. Water the tree at the time of planting. The tree can be watered once a week or more if in the middle of summer. It is important not to overwater your tree or it can also die. If you cannot visit your tree more often, ensure that other people/organizations will care for it. (However, it is nicer to find the time to visit your tree every now and then!)

8. Mulch (a combination of materials such as bark, wood chips, and other organic materials) of about 3 or 4 inches deep around your tree can also help in keeping the moisture of the soil. It may also be a good idea to add fertilizers in the soil but it is better to consult a plant/tree specialist first so he can advice you on the best approach.

9. Decide if your young tree can stand on its own; if not, build stakes around it for support. Just ensure that the stakes will not be too tight or too loose (e.g., the tree should still be able to sway with the winds. It may be unavoidable that the tree will touch the edges of the stakes if winds will blow so you can lessen the damage to the tree’s skin by wrapping the contact points with soft and “airy” cloth). The stakes should also be removed at a time that the tree can already stand on its own.

10. Avoid pruning your tree at such young age. If pruning is needed particularly for damaged/broken branches, do so with extreme care so that the other healthy branches will not be affected. Do not also prune the top of the tree as this will affect the growth and structure of the tree.

For more information and tips on tree-planting, you can also visit this link. You can also contact the Manila Seedling Bank for availability and pricing of tree seedlings. If you have other helpful tips, please also feel free to share them with our readers by emailing me through Watch out for my next post about appropriate types of trees for particular settings/locations.

Happy tree-planting!


This is not a paid blog.

The meiLBOX 5+1 Project sends out the first 5 letters via Post!

If you are one of my regular visitors, you must know already about the small project that I have launched very recently. :) It is The meiLBOX 5+1 Project (click here to know more about it) and I continue to humbly appeal for your help in spreading the word around.

The First 5 Letters on their Way to My Friends! (Photo taken through HTC Tattoo)

Anyway, with hubby in tow, I mailed the first 5 letters that I have written for this Project, via the Post Office in Cubao (near Cubao Expo) last Friday. I hope that my five friends (the lucky ones?!) who will receive my letters will be surprised and then, upon knowing that they are left with no other choice but to follow the meiLBOX instructions, would be happy to write and mail their five letters and plant their trees, too! :)

That day was particularly hot and humid so it was even more challenging to walk the extra mile, as the cliche goes. However, it made the experience more memorable and fun because we literally had to sweat it out! It was also nice to see authentic postal stamps again! The ones that were issued to me (priced at PhP 7.00 per stamp) had an image of a clownfish (or anemonefish) on them. Most likely, you are aware of or have watched the Disney film, Finding Nemo. The cute Nemo in that film is a clownfish.

You might be wondering why a clownfish would appear in a Philippine stamp. I checked the Philippine Postal Corporation (Philpost) website and found out that they issued this stamp and several others in 2010 and 2011, to promote Philippine Marine Biodiversity. You can find more information here and here. I enjoyed browsing the Philpost website as I had also collected stamps when I was in high school and college (I pray that my stamp albums are still in a safe place!). Hubby and I are dog-lovers so we were glad to know that dogs were also featured in Philippine stamps! Here is the link to know more about the stamp series on dogs.

You can paste this meiLBOX 5+1 sticker on your letter envelopes. You can email me directly if you want to have a copy of the PDF file so you can print copies of this sticker at home. (Image of the Phil. stamps courtesy of Mr. Alex Moises. Image of the tree courtesy of

You can paste this meiLBOX 5+1 sticker on your letter envelopes. You can email me directly if you want to have a copy of the PDF file so you can print copies of this sticker at home. (Image of the Phil. stamps courtesy of Mr. Alex Moises. Image of the tree courtesy of

By the way, I came up with a sticker for the Project so you may want to email me through or if you want to use this sticker for your letter envelopes. I can send you a PDF file so you can print it and enjoy the stickers as well. I spent a lot of time in my search for an old Philippine stamp with an image of a tree on it and my efforts were eventually rewarded because I was led to these 1950-issued stamps (priced at 2 and 5 centavos!). They are beautiful stamps featuring Red Lauan trees and issued to commemorate the 15 years of the then Philippine Forest Service (Source: World Forestry in Stamps, FAO, found at Hopefully, I can still find authentic copies so I can include them in my collection. (Thanks to the owner of this image, Alex Moises with url at as well as to the FAO.)

All it takes is to send out 5 letters and plant 1 tree! (Photo taken through HTC Tattoo)

Before I end this post, I like to invite all of you again to join The meiLBOX 5+1 Project and together, let us revive the art of letter-writing, bring smiles to the face of our friends and family members, and plant more trees!

For a greener, cleaner, and happier Mother Earth, let’s count 5+1 now!

P.s. Watch out for my next post when I discuss the best tree species for both urban and rural set-ups.


This is not a paid blog.