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By Dexter R. Matilla
For the Philippine Daily Inquirer
A very mature, yet simple, take on the global state of forests helped 13-year-old Trisha Co Reyes to bring home 1st Place in the 20th International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep).
Reyes’ work shows a young girl parting gray curtains filled with pictures of the devastation and death brought about by floods, which, as the young artist perhaps intended, is caused by the excessive cutting of trees. Behind the curtains she sees an ideal world filled with lush greens and with animals in peaceful coexistence.
“My painting shows two sides: a good and sustainable forest, and the causes of forest destruction,” says Reyes. “Forests are essential for life on earth, but [today] the destruction of the forest has become a worldwide problem. We must treasure the earth’s greatest biological treasure, so that we will always have forests in our lives.”
Reyes, who aspires to be a pediatrician, adds it is her love for walking through the forests that served as her inspiration, and she hopes people would start planting trees and appreciate the value of forests so that in the future her “little patients will enjoy the good health” she wants them to have.
This year is also declared by Unep as the International Year of Forests  and Reyes says it is a noble cause that makes people aware of the need to preserve the forest before it is totally destroyed.
“Through art, children like me can express our stand to help save our forests,” Reyes says. “Because forests are essential for life on earth, they give us shade and shelter, medicines, refuge and refreshment, clean air and water.”
The student from St. Stephen’s School received $2,000 in prize money and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Tunza International Children and Youth Conference on the Environment in Bandung, Indonesia, where she will formally receive her award.
The 2011 International Children’s Painting Competition, with the theme “Life in the Forests,” has seen over three-million children from some 100 countries participate by painting their hopes for the environment, damaged through the years, portraying how they hope to solve the problems that include pollution, habitat destruction, deforestation.


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