This centennial Bitaug Tree in the coastal community of Caloc-an, Magallanes was believed to be standing for more than 500 years even before the coming of the Spaniards in the Philippines.
Based on the marker set before the gigantic tree:
“ This Bitaug tree existed long before 1523 based on existing set of maps which shows the island of Mindanao with its Northeastern side named “Bitau” and “Batauo”, undoubtly referring to Bitaog tree, as it was then the custom of Filipinos to name places after the trees. This surviving Bitaog tree has also been a mute witness to many historical events, among others are: (1) the initial evangelization of Mindanao; (2) the birth of Caraga as a Region during the Spanish colonial period; (3) the struggles of the Agusanons against the Americans; and (4) the quadracentennial of the evangelization of Mindanao on September 7, 1997.”
To get an idea how big this tree had grown , I asked a group of wandering youth from the area to stand hand in hand around the tree. The six persons weren't enough to cover the whole trunk of the tree.
According to its official diameter breast height measurement(DBH), the tree has a staggering 270 cm diameter that requires at least 10 persons to hug the whole tree. Because it is a buttress free tree it looks not as big as the other younger century old trees. But the age of the tree is not measured on its buttress or diameter but on the annual ring that hides within its hardened trunk and only scientific way of measuring can determine the exact age of this tree.
Bitaog Tree has a scientific name of Calophyllum inophyllum under the family Guttiferae and is described generally as a medium-sized to large evergreen tree that averages 8–20 m (25–65 ft) in height with a broad spreading crown of irregular branches. The tree supports a dense canopy of glossy, elliptical leaves, fragrant white flowers, and large round nuts. It grows along coastal areas and adjacent lowland forests.
This tree is usually used as ornamental plant for its grandiose canopy aside from its hard wood that is prized for carving, furniture and boat making. Leaves and fruits are poisonous but the seeds are the source of Calophyllum oil which is said to have a medicinal and healing property for skin diseases and liniment for rheumatism in India.
A view coming from a nature lover, seeing this old tree is a pleasure to my eyes as it is now very seldom we encounter a living witness to our past.
What we usually adore now in our escapes from our homes are gigantic malls and towering buildings which in fact, ecologically speaking, do not produce any value to the survival of living species on earth . But it is a sad truth that the forests now is seen as source of huge income for some capitalists not considering the lives that depend on it including the human population. This is one of the reasons I migrated to a rural and forested area and live healthier with a greener environment rather than in a concrete jungle where all you will get are diseases due to the polluted habitat coming from the so called ‘grand innovations of the century.’
Taking a pump boat from Butuan City is way better and enjoyable activity while traversing the Agusan River towards the delta town of Magallanes. From the city proper, take a tricycle and tell the driver to drop you at the PPA or Philippine Port Area. The fare is Php 8.00.
From the port terminal register on the passenger manifest, fare is Php25.00. The pump boat leaves almost every 40 minutes. Arriving at the port of Magallanes take a tricycle bound for the terminal tricycle heading for Cabadbaran City, fare is Php 8.00. Take the tricycle bound for Cabadbaran and just tell the driver that you shall alight at Bitaug. Usually drivers know this marker but if not tell him to drop you at the Centennial Beach, the last barangay (Caloc-an) leaving Magallanes, fare is Php 10.00.