Magkono is known as the Philippine Iron Wood and considered as the hardest wood under the Family Myrtaceae (ex. Guava and eucalyptus). It is listed as rare and currently endangered based on the record of IUCN.
Magkono or Xanthostemon verdugonianus is a Philippine endemic tree found in the “Magkono Triangle” that includes Palawan, Samar, Dinagat Island and now seen in Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur.
To cut the tree, it requires at least four days using a diamond-point saws because of its hardness and high density. It is a durable material used by our ancestors in making the casket of the departed members of the community. The display in the National Museum in Butuan City proves that this wood can outlast everyone and even a civilization for about thousands of years and yet has shown no decay. Our ancestors also utilized it as primary foundation for building houses and poles for the balangay and even used as materials for some novelty items as decoration inside the house.
In my stay in Mindanao for years I have not seen a single matured tree in the wild until my visit in Agusan del Sur. It was a grandeur experience to see a lone 25-foot white barked tree along the trail leading to Bega Waterfalls. To see it in the wild fulfills one of my dreams and faith is so good to show it in an even better way .
More to that, the encounter made even special as I never expected to see what is known as the GIANT ORCHID (suspected as Grammatophylum speciosum) silently in commensal with the hardest wood tree. This particular association is rare to be witnessed even by known field naturalists or biologists in the Philippines. With this scene, I now believe that the BEST deserves only the BEST.
That day was so overwhelming and gave me more drive and inspiration to discover more of the hidden treasures known only in Mindanao. I just hope that we can conserve and preserve the remaining unique resources we have in the country.