A big passion for plants

“Planting is the work of a lifetime…”
Posted on Oct 08 2020

CNMI Forestry’s gets tree planting support from Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who Tudela regards as the person who keeps pushing him to keep doing what he is doing to save our natural resources. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS)

“Planting is the work of a lifetime…”

Seven months ago in March in front of an audience for the Susupe community garden project was this man, casually inspiring others as he talked about his experiences, the planting programs he has been involved with, to keep the island green and alive.

His name is Pedro J. Tudela, more popularly known as Big P.

Saipan Tribune recently had the privilege to get to know more about the man, and so now, we put a spotlight on him and his work, and hopefully, serve as an inspiration to others.

“Allow me to say that Pedro Tudela is an outgoing person, fun to be around with, and an open person.”

This is how he described himself when we asked who “Pedro Tudela” is outside work. And we learned that while he likes planting, going to the beach, softball, and reading about the natural resources, what he loves most is spending time with his family.

Tudela is a forestry technician at the CNMI Forestry of the Division of Agriculture, under the Department of Land and Natural Resources. He assists in the enforcement of forestry rules and regulations, and in the prevention of forest fire.

His work also entails conducting lectures at schools, also for private homeowners, as well as instructing farmers, government officials, and the general public about forestry, natural resources management, and conservation.

In fact, the very first time we took notice of Tudela, was at the 3rd Annual Marianas Terrestrial Conservation Conference back in November last year, while he was manning the CNMI Forestry’s poster exhibit, where he patiently and carefully answered questions from the conference participants about native plant species.

“What do I do on a regular basis at work—maintain [the] nursery, update [the] nursery inventory, water all seedlings, out planting in the general public and farmers, reports, and [do] daily nursery work, soil testing, soil erosion, watershed, water run-off.”

He also assists in tree planting, pruning, and other silvicultural work in collecting and caring for trees and tree seedlings in the nursery and out in the community, as well as conducts inventory of plants in and out of CNMI Forestry nursery.

Aside from this, he is also responsible for the site preparation of forestry projects, and conducts other forest management activities such as surveys, inventory assessment, and recreation development. Quite a tall task, and yet, Tudela makes it look easy, especially with his gusto for nature.

Developing the passion

Despite all the tree planting projects that he has been involved with, and the obviously significant role he plays in keeping the CNMI green, Tudela admits that what he always wanted to be is a police officer, but that life instead, opened a different path for him.

“I honestly could say that I never thought of working at CNMI Forestry. In my family, there are people working as a law enforcement officer, doctor, lawmaker, army, air force, among others. I always wanted to become a police officer but that didn’t happened…”

“… so I sat down, one day, at the beach and asked myself, ‘what do you wanna do in life?’”

Tudela then remembered that he worked at the CNMI Forestry, as part of an on-the-job training when he was in high school, and envisioned himself working there again. He waited until a job opening was posted, and then he applied. Needless to say, he got the job.

“Planting is a work of a lifetime,” says Forestry Technician Pedro J. Tudela, who plays a role in the greening of the CNMI through his assistance in the enforcement of forestry rules and regulations, in tree planting activities all over the CNMI, and his work in conducting environmental education campaigns for plants species all over the island.

“Working at CNMI Forestry for three years in the books has changed my life, loving the natural resources we have. So who influenced me was my family and friends… to keep on pushing what I do.”

While he plays no favorites, as far as the countless planting projects he has been involved with, Tudela tags three as the most unforgettable.

“I honestly could say that I have no best projects… because all the projects I have done in the past three years I [have been] working at CNMI Forestry are the best…” he begins. “… but the project I won’t forget was working with Leisha Deleon Guerrero, the first ever Miss Northern Marianas Earth, because every time I will call that I have a tree planting, she will be down to join.”

The other projects Tudela regarded as unforgettable are “Go Well with Joel” with Rep. Joel Camacho, adding that all the plants that the CNMI Forestry planted had remained in good condition, as well as partnering with the Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance (MINA) for the Bring Back Our Trees campaign.

Reaching out for others to get involved

Tudela is humble and realistic enough to admit that he can’t impose upon people to develop a passion for plants, but remains hopeful that the community will still get involved..

“I can’t tell the community members to have a passion for forestry and plants, but all I could say is it takes yourself to love and have a passion for plants and forestry.”

“Plants and trees help in so many ways, and flowers as well. I never thought that plants and trees and forestry plays a big role in the community. All I could say is take a break in a week and just read about forestry and plants, and trust me, you will learn a lot and know what it takes to be in my shoe.”

He also is reaching out, with a sense of understanding, to those in the community who do not care about plants.

“My message to the people who don’t care is very hard to say, because I was once like them who didn’t care at all. But all I ask the community is when you see a newly-[planted] tree, or flower being newly planted, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DON’T KILL OR RUN OVER, OR UPROOT THE PLANTS.”

Pedro J. Tudela with Miss Earth Northern Marianas 2019 Leisha Deleon Guerrero (left) and Miss Water 2019 Jan Zowie Cruz (right) for the community garden project in Susupe. The community garden, a 600-square meter plot in Tramoha Avenue, is a first of such a project in the CNMI.

Tudela appeals to everyone to not touch newly-planted trees or flowers, and stresses that CNMI Forestry plants them for a purpose. He also asks that when CNMI Forestry is hosting a tree planting activity, for the community to get involved, to bring the family out, and learn about tree planting or “the proper way of tree care.”

If all of us care for plants, and for the environment in general, then collectively, the CNMI will be an even better place, not just for us now, but for the many generations to come. And so, may we all be reminded and moved by this quote from Tudela…

“Planting is the work of a lifetime: you never finish, I hope that while so many people are out smelling the flowers, someone is taking the time to plant some.”

Let us all live in harmony with nature.

Tudela doing ground preparation work with the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Parks and Recreation prior to a tree planting activity.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at
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