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Davisol: Master of Magkono Woodcraft (The Fate of Philippine Iron Wood)





Small lagoon of Davisol with lush green mangroves 
Davisol or Divine Arc Victory Instituted in Sion Omnipotent in this Latter Days of Christ wasn’t familiar to me until I was assigned to tour our guests in Surigao del Sur. Not much of high end resorts to be found in the area, we end up checking every establishment we passed by along the national highway. Unaware of what to see, we just let ourselves be surprised with anything we find.


On one side of the road along San Agustin, heading to the Municipality of Lianga, I saw a writing on a waiting shed as “Tourism Area of Davisol”. I thanked the day that I finally found a place to tour our guests. We registered and welcomed ourselves into the vicinity thinking that it was some kind of a park.

The house of Davisol , build from finest wood
with no nails used
I saw not much compare to a common park; the place was an ordinary peaceful sanctuary with trees, boulders of rocks, lush mangrove trees, small houses and countless roosters ready for cockfight. The  small community is headed by a  master (APO) and seven housewives, resulting to more than 5 dozens of children and grandchildren. Someone told me that they are some kind of a cult, but I don’t believe in such only if they publicly confessed .

We parked near the community school located along the shore. After I alighted from our vehicle,  a huge 4-storey wooden house caught my eyes. According to a local, the house was built using the finest of Philippine wood without a single iron nail pinned on it. WOW!

Magkono seedling. Photo courtesy of Alexis de Manuel
We entered the “souvenir shop” and I was surprised with dozens of marvelous Magkono pieces that even in my wildest dream I wasn’t hoping to see. The woodcraft range from vases, chopping boards, tables and chairs with price ranging from few hundreds to hundred thousand of pesos.

For the information of everyone, Magkono is known as the Philippine Iron Wood or Xanthostemon verdugonianus .   Materials made from this wood can actually last without decay for thousands of years just like the wooden coffin of Balangay recovered in Butuan.


This tree is actually almost nearing to its extinction and can only be found in the Philippine Magkono Triangle that includes Surigao Province, Dinagat and Samar Islands. This is actually a problem among forest loggers because it can break the blade of chainsaws due to its compactness and hardness.

To create a masterpiece from the raw material, a huge investment on patience, power and time is required to even make a scratch on the surface of a slab.  

Master pieces from the wood of Magkono 
Amazed with my discovery, I looked around and  suddenly found myself becoming a tour guide, explaining to our visitors about the amazing source of wood. Our visitors, blown by my description and stories, end up buying some pieces of vases and some house decors. In my case, I didn't mind spending few thousands of pesos on some wooden cups and chopping boards. These would definitely end up as  collector’s item as not everyone has the opportunity to own a rare authentic craft made out of Magkono tree.

Houses build on top of mudflats fronting the Britania Group of Islands
Concern also on the status of the tree, I asked one of the wives regarding the source of their raw materials. She replied that these centennial trees are available in the forested land given to them by the government.

I even requested if seedlings are available for sale since I wish to have my own Magkono tree planted in our yard, preserving its genetic existence for future generation. Sad to know, the community at that time wasn't concern about replanting or replenishing the said species of tree.

From that day, I was thinking that if this pride tree species our country is on its dwindling numbers, why is it that I haven’t heard of any Magkono conservation program in Surigao Province  done by any organizations or at least by the local government?

It would be a lost on our heritage if this species of tree become extinct from wilderness. The crafts made out of Magkono only show how ingenious the craftsmanship of the Filipino ancestors. I just hope that this pride would not perish just because of some individuals wish to profit from converting our forest land into some money producing undertakings.

Note: The second time I visited the place in early 2012, Davisol temporarily suspended their production in compliance with the total log ban ordered by the Philippine president.



What's Next?


Gallery:



The production site of Davisol

Even sheds are made of wood in Davisol

House decors and kitchen utensils made out of Magkono


33 comments :

  1. Cool , I miss the place ...

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  2. The wood from the tree is beautiful. This must be preserved. Great find.

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  3. wow! those are pretty much native. and the place.. i find it lonely. but seems refreshing! :) whew! the wind..

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  4. It is good to know that something is being done to preserve the magkono tree although the products made from it are really extraordinarily beautiful.

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  5. it's sad to know that we have no programs on preserving and replanting this type of tree. i hope it will not be too late for the people to realize its importance since it is the source of their livelihood..

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  6. embarrassing but this is the first time I heard of magkono tree. ;( hopefully our government will exert effort to preserve these trees.

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  7. Maria Gemma Defeo-HilotinAugust 18, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    same as violy! first time to see, hear, read about this tree! simply beautiful!

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  8. ralph marcuss ManarangSeptember 8, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    Maganda ang may ganitong display sa bahay nakaka pag palamig!

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  9. I don't think it would be feasible to have a Magkono preservation site in Surigao since most of the forest is already booked by mining sites. It's sad reading about this, I hope we can at least preserve some of these trees in other locations.

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  10. Maria Gemma Defeo-HilotinNovember 9, 2012 at 6:53 AM

    Beautiful works of art! I am sure it is pricey! Good thing there was a ban too, I hope they would take the initiative to replant or save Magkono tree! I guess, you are called to make the "conservation thing" happen! Ready for the challenge?

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  11. Wood work is the hobby of my dad. Most of our furniture are made out of woods made by him. But If he could make one to start make a living, I think he could do well for another business.

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  12. Wood works are great ancient stuff. By the way it is my first time to hear about MAGKONO Woods. Nice woods isn't it?

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  13. beautiful. one of God's creation, but be sure to preserve some because wood from trees are very important with nature

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  14. Me, too. First time to hear about Magkono... I hope this wood species survive. Can this be grown in non-forest sites and back yards?

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  15. I've been to Surigal del Sur but never got a chance to visit this place; I was just passing by Lianga and San Agustin. I'm hoping that the government can provide such programs to maintain and preserve magkono. Tree plantings and clean and green will be helpful too.

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  16. Never heard this tree species before, At lalo na yung finish hand-crafted products. Hope local NGO's will find a way to preserve these trees.

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  17. I only visited Davao. I will love to travel in Mindanao. I am planning to buy a folding bike and use it there

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  18. I've been to Surigao del Sur, but never been to Britania Island. I guess, I have to travel here.

    http://www.anythingonthebuzz.com

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  19. I really love your post and all about Mindanao! Plenty of great views, trees, handicrafts materials! :)

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  20. First time I heard about this tree called Magkono and its wonderful characteristics but sad to know that its coming to extinction. Hopefully we can educate our countrymen such they will re-plant this very rare kind of plant specie.

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  21. Indeed there are still hidden beauties in our country just waiting to be explored.

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  22. Amazing wood products made only by hand... The government and the locals of Davisol should initiate a program for the conservation of Magkono trees. This type of wood is so marvelous that the Filipinos should be the first to uphold and safe-keep our natural resources.

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  23. Wow! Amazing! No nails used! Panalo naman eto!!

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  24. Lovely place I would really be visiting this place. Such a beautiful view and I must say that the photography is amazing. Can you just help me with accomodations there. I have been amazed with Vanderbijlpark Accommodation in South Africa last season.

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  25. Cnc Routers For SaleOctober 25, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day.

    Matt Levine

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  26. I have gone to Tandag In last October 25. I have seen this Cathedral in the middle of the city and I agree that renovation of this cathedral is already not feasible.
    The Diocese is constructing a spacious and modern Cathedral for the catholics of Tandag. A cathedral with a very grand design, worthy to be called a Cathedral of Faith. I hope I can share some views of it. And I hope people of faith, and those who love this part of the Philippines can share their resources for the completion of one of the most beautiful Houses of Worship.

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  27. Hi Noria. I am glad you like history and that you have come to know about Tandag. A very quiet place blessed with rich natural resources and interesting history. The beaches are some of the bests, though unexplored. Mining though is threatening its present beauty. I will inform you regarding the plan of the diocese, and will take into consideration your thoughts regarding preservation. I hope you can visit Tandag and Surigao Sur in the future

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  28. how much po ung seeds ng mgkono sir/maam

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  29. we/ i am not selling seedlings po @Bonn Anoche

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  30. Tonie Jade M. MendezMarch 19, 2016 at 9:31 PM

    I could personally nickname Tandag as a "silent land with hidden gems". It might be out of everybody's expectations that this silent city has a very rich history buried herein. In fact, if you could read a book about Mindanao's Christianization history, it would be impossible not to mention Tandag. There are numerous bits of Tandag's history that had affected the story of Mindanao.

    I am a student, a native in Tandag, who has great affection to study the our province's local history.

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  31. Your city indeed is very silent. But just enough for a relaxing life without the rush. How I wish to know more of this place when i come back and get some folklores from the elderlies. I have visited many times but don't have the enough time to wander around. Hope to meet you there one of these days @Ton@Tonie Jade M. Mendez

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  32. Tonie Jade M. MendezMarch 20, 2016 at 11:08 AM

    Hope to meet you too, sir.

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  33. Tonie Jade M. MendezMarch 20, 2016 at 11:27 AM

    Many would have assumed that the present Cathedral of Tandag, by its hispanic or somewhat renaissance-like architecture and its very olden appearance, is as 390's old as Tandag Parish is. However, the church was actually erected from 1940's through the initiative of Fr. John Nicasio Jansen, a Dutch MSC priest who was then the parish's curé. The parish churches of Tandag since 1622 has just gone several relocations, renovations, (natural) destructions, and the like. I could frequently visit the cathedral and just idly sit there since it is just too near to my school, Saint Theresa College. I would even still wonder how could I exactly describe its architecture which seems to have an 18th or 19th century European elements.

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