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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bitaog : The Philippine Centennial Tree






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.’

Getting there

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.

17 comments:

  1. wow...the tree was ginormous! seeing this in person must be really a treat. :) btw, i love your blog, it makes want to go to mindanao more and more because of all the things you post in here. :))

    xoxo,

    Riza of rzzzp.blogspot.com/

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  2. i first thought that it was an acacia, and truly it is gigantic! wow!

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  3. Maria Gemma Defeo-HilotinOctober 31, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    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.’ - I admire your stand! I salute you for your integrity and passion!


    .. and I'd love to have my picture taken with that gigantic tree!!! Thanks for the knowledge!:)

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  4. Bitaog is one of our country's native trees..
    I remember going to the Underground River in Palawan..
    By the beach, you have to pass a lush ticket of Bitaog tree by the entrance.
    There are a few species, now mostly in Mindanao and Mimaropa regions.
    Nice feature! Good to know that not only Balete's could grow this old and be a witness to our history.

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  5. More than 500 year-old tree... and still standing. I just hope this gigantic and historic living tree can be preserved for more generations to see. Imagine how long it has existed and how strong it has survived many natural disasters. Just amazing!

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  6. It's good to know that they have preserved this tree to this day. I do hope that that century old tree is not alone, I hope there are other century old trees that can be found in that place and not just that lone landmark

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  7. I appreciate how you seek to provide your own brand of information about a place which you obviously love.

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  8. wow, antique tree,lol.I wonder when can i see such old tree. My father said ,he has some really old trees in her home province but I never been there.He has narra trees right in his property.

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  9. Hear, hear Dennis! I'm glad that you've decided to stay where you are now.. I guess, living in the metro has gotten me used to the populations already. But of course, nothing beats being in a place that is surrounded with lush greeneries. I hope that I get to see that magical and very historical tree someday too..

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  10. Thanks for sharing this very interesting information. Wow! oldest tree sa Pinas, hope I can see with my eyes this landmark.

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  11. This tree is quite an attraction. I hope they get to preserve it.

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  12. wow! that is huge! i hope this will still last for more years for the next generation to witness.

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  13. Very nice! This tree have witnessed a lot over the years. If only it can talk...

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  14. Cool inormation about Bitaog Tree :) Well, its huge and a little bit scary. But to think that this tree is a witness of how time form the early phase of human civilization - intriguing as it is.

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  15. Wow, at 500 years old, this must be one of the oldest trees in the country which is publicly accessible. DLSU's Centennial Tree is exactly 100 years old this year and it's smack in the middle of our campus. I hope we protect these living guardians of our history well - to be enjoyed another hundred years.

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  16. Hello, Im posting a blog about Mllenium tree in Aurora.. I place your link in this post as refference to the centennial tree since its by far older than our dear Balete's. hope its okay. :)

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  17. Ang laki denz! Hanggang ilang taon ba ang life span ng mga ganyang trees? :)

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About The Author

Love Mindanao finished his graduate degree in Environmental Science and Ecosystem Management in Manila. He left his lucrative job from the city and worked humbly in the forested area of Mindanao as an Environmental Specialist in Surigao del Sur His love for Mindanao flourished when he saw the untold truth about the once feared island. His blog provides budget friendly travel guide in visiting marvelous and enchanting destinations in Mindanao and also other remarkable places in the Philippines.He also disseminates environmental awareness and features some of the unique flora and fauna encountered along his journey and share some interesting facts about its ecological importance. He is married to his work and to his passion to travel.. ...Read More