Ep.4: on the Value of Forests with Lee Ann and Alan Silayan

Updated: Jun 14, 2020

This episode was brought to you by Forest Foundation Philippines. It was produced by MUNI, hosted and written by Jen Horn and Ayen dela Torre, edited by, with music by Diego Mapa and branding by Serious Studio. You can find the MUNI on This Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or listen directly below.

About this episode

We still have a lot of feelings we're dealing with now about the COVID-19 crisis and how the government is responding to it, but we hope that by launching this episode, we can shed light on the value of forests, our interconnectedness and dependence on nature and the people who protect them. And then maybe, when we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, we better know what we can do to help protect the life-giving resource that is our forests.

We wanted to talk about the value of forests primarily because people tend to look at technology as a solution for the climate crisis or environmental issues, or think that there's this magic gadget that we can create to save us. But it also involves looking at solutions that nature already offers. And while we care a lot about the environment, we don't fully understand the value of forests and reforestation projects beyond just the usual tree planting activity.

And in this episode, we ask: How effective is tree-planting as natural climate solution? What are the challenges we face in protecting and growing our forests? And how might we find love when we bring our passions forward? ;) We asked forest-loving couple: Lee Ann Canals-Silayan of UP Mountaineers and Eco Explorations, and Alan Silayan, an independent climate change professional.

About our guests

Lee Ann Canals-Silayan grew up surrounded by abundant nature and knowing the names of trees because er parents raised her in a farm in San Mateo Rizal. Her passion for the environment was further fueled when she became a member of@upmountaineersin 2013. Since then, she's been participating actively and leading reforestation activities in Mount Ipo, passionately fighting for our forests, which provide us with clean air and clean water, and advocating for our forests protectors - the Bantay Gubat. Even in her pregnancy, she would hike up with UP Mountaineers or as a site lead for@ecoexplorations, an ecotourism company.

While Lee had emotional and action-packed stories to share, her husband Alan shared his zen and the knowledge he's gained in years of experience in the areas of carbon credit, clean development mechanisms, and other geeky jargon. He's worked with Clean Air Asia, WWF, ADB and now works as a consultant on climate change mitigation. When he's not working, he's still doing things for the environment, like going on forest walks and planting trees (with his wife Lee, of course), and geeking out about ways to reforest land while nourishing the soil that feeds us.

Show notes


  • [00:14] Jen intros the episode and shares why it's important to talk about environmental issues and the value of forests even in the midst of the COVID crisis.

  • [01:55] Ayen shares why this episode is specially kilig, and Jen shares how Lee and Alan met at a MUNI event. :)

  • [04:53] Ayen introduces Lee


  • [05:18] Lee realizing how she really had an unusual love of trees

  • [06:39] Lee's beginnings with UP Mountaineers, and their work with Bantay Gubat or forest rangers

  • [07:44] Forest rangers are the heroes providing Metro Manila residents with water

  • [08:40] Bantay gubats salaries had been delayed for six months

  • [09:50] Lee shares why salaries are delayed

  • [11:16] Jen and Ayen echo the problems are similar for farmers, forest rangers, and other "essential" but underpaid workers

  • [11:50] Water is life, but taken for granted

  • [12:35] Story of rangers dealing with illegal loggers

  • [16:38] "Don't be ashamed to show that selfie of you planting a tree. It is good to show people that there is something that we can do so that we don't lose hope"

  • [17:15] Lee on her climate despair, eco-anxiety, and worries about bringing a baby into this world

  • [18:48] Ayen responds with words of comfort in bringing up children who can later protect our planet


  • [20:01] Jen intros Alan

  • [20:50] Alan on the importance of restoring the soil

  • [22:04] Alan on different solutions to climate change, but how listening to nature is best

  • [23:27] "We've been finding that as we follow the lead of nature and how it works."

  • [24:04] Jen asks Alan about his thoughts on carbon offsetting as a way to fund reforestation

  • [25:02] Lee chimes in with her thoughts on putting financial value on ecosystems and their services

  • [26:31] Jen asks whether ecosystem valuation may actually be problematic (see below links)


  • [28:18] Ayen asks if it's important to find a romantic partner involved in your passion for the environment :P

  • [29:00] How you can get involved + the right way to do tree-planting

About this podcast

We started MUNI on This to deal with our personal and collective distress about the state of our planet, but more importantly, we created this to give ourselves and you guys more reasons to hope and more motivation to act. In the show, we talk about the challenges and possibilities in creating a more mindful and livable world. It was created by MUNI, a purpose-driven company that creates conversations and builds community through online content and offline events on mindful, sustainable living. You can find the MUNI on This Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also listen directly via You can also join the MUNI Community group on Facebook to reach out to our community.

People / organizations mentioned

Alan Silayan

Eco Explorations

Lee Ann Canals-Silayan

• MAD Travels

Masungi Georeserve

Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society Inc.

Philippine Native Tree Enthusiasts

UP Mountaineers

Other links / resources

  • Instagram
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  • Twitter

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