Tree of sobriety

The graduation ceremony was for a class of 13.  The “lucky 13” is a trite and not altogether accurate way to describe them, though, because it wasn’t just luck or good fortune that got them there.  Actually, they made it to that emotion-laden ceremony after several years of rigorous training in values formation, accountability and responsibility. 

The 13 – a seemingly small number – join the ranks of former addicts who have made a successful re-entry into society. 

This was made possible through the guidance and perseverance of a therapeutic community, composed of psychiatrists, medical personnel, social workers and loving families who did not give up on getting back their lost sons and daughters, siblings and spouses. 

The therapeutic community is managed by the Self Enhancement for Life Foundation (SELF), in Talisay, Batangas.

A unique, highly symbolic and memorable feature of the commencement rites was the tree-planting activity held the day before the graduation, when each of the 13 graduates planted his or her sapling along a slope of the grounds that witnessed their struggles and eventual victory.

Aptly called “Tree of Sobriety, Trees of Life”, the tree planting activity began in 2000. It was conceptualized by SELF founder, Martin Infante, himself a recovering addict for 26 years, when the facility and community moved to SELF’s present location in Batangas.

Dr. Gregory C. Bunt, president of the International Society of Addiction Medicine
Nestled on a ridge overlooking Taal Lake, the facility has been home to persons (ages range from early teens to mid 60s) with behavioral, substance and drug abuse problems,

From a barren mountainside, the place is now a beautiful and healing sanctuary for troubled individuals who are in need of mental, physical and spiritual help.  The facility is surrounded by naturally growing vegetation and today, teeming with all kinds of trees planted by former residents – a serene but enduring record of their successful transition. 

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, SELF has lined up a series of activities for the members of the local community, for its alumni, present residents and their families, with the presence of a distinguished line up of local and international guests. 

To share the concept of and updates on the Therapeutic Community (TC) approach in addressing behavioral, substance and drug abuse problems, SELF is organizing a lecture and panel discussion by internationally-recognized experts in the field on the theme “Total Well-Being Approach: A Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Journey to Recovery” 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the SMX Aura Function Room 1.  

Dr. Gregory C. Bunt, M.D., president of the International Society of Addiction Medicine, conducts the lecture in the morning, and discusses the efficacy of combining clinical intervention with the Therapeutic Community (TC) approach that SELF has championed.  His talk is followed by a panel discussion in the afternoon to be participated in by Indonesian TC practitioners and local officials of the Department of Health.

On Sept. 16, a musical show directed by Fritz Ynfante with musical director Butch Miraflor will be presented at the SELF’s Sacred Heart Auditorium. Titled Self @ 25, Rekindling Hope, Rebuilding Lives, the show is a journey from SELF beginnings and  the many lives touched by it. 

Among the people who have sought help from SELF, 55 percent finished the complete program (on a case-to-case basis), with a record of 80 percent of non-relapse.  

Besides from being a leader in the use of arts as one of the tools in the treatment of residents, SELF has been recognized as one of the leading Therapeutic Communities in Asia, providing education to university students who would like to spend their on-the-job training in the facility and professors who want  their students be exposed to the TC way of rehabilitation and medical treatment of drug dependents.  

As a way of giving back to the community, SELF has been actively giving seminars to schools and coordinating with government agencies as regards the prevention of the use of illegal drugs among the youth. 

For individuals and groups interested in attending the seminar, and other inquiries on SELF, please call Sockie  Averilla at 809-3491 or 0928-552-5656. 

Topics: “Tree of Sobriety , Trees of Life” , Martin Infante , Dr. Gregory C. Bunt , “lucky 13” , Self Enhancement for Life Foundation (SELF)

Related stories:

No related stories matched this topic.

COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.