Narra trees, dwarfs and bravery

Located inside the Pagsanga-an Elementary School in the town of Pavia is a narra tree believed to be enchanted.

Just like its “residents” which are dwarfs, the tree is just 4 meters tall as measured from the ground to its first branch while its trunk is 2.7 meters in diameter.

Susan Jovero, municipal planning officer, said that the tree became popular in September 1988 when news broke out that dwarfs were seen swaying to and fro its branches. Because of this, people from different places flocked to the area to offer food and flowers.

Based on a testimony by a native of the place, Rowena Jeco, the tree already existed when the school was constructed in 1949.

The tree has not grown tall despite its age because it was struck by a lightning in 1978, leaving it almost dead. But it grew again.

Clockwise: Narra trees of Pavia, Sta. Barbara, Cabatuan and Leganes
THE ONE THAT SAVED LIVES. Meanwhile, the narra tree located in Brgy. Calaboa Elementary School in Leganes, Iloilo was a favorite hiding place of government soldiers whenever they had an encounter with rebels of the New People’s Army.

“The NPA rebels passed by this area in the 1970’s. The school was not around yet then,” said Wilson Batislaong, municipal environment officer of Leganes.

“This tree has saved many lives,” he added.

It has a circumference of 3.7 meters.

A SYMBOL OF HISTORY. Meanwhile, the Manuel L. Quezon Tree of Cabatuan, Iloilo stands proud in front of the town’s municipal hall to remind people of a historic event.

According to the Cabatuan Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO), this narra tree, which has a circumference of 3.55 meters, was planted in 1933 when then Senate President Manuel Luis Quezon became the first Philippine Commonwealth President and when Tomas Confesor was appointed as the Filipino Director of Commerce by Governor General Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

Confesor, an Ilonggo, was called by former president Teofisto Guingona as a “fighter until the end” because he fought against wrong political systems.

Buttress of the century-old narra tree in Brgy. Lanupe, Nueva Valencia Guimaras. 
Other photo shows Antonio Genisan, whose father was 17 years old when the 
tree was only 35 inches in circumference.

 A FAMILY’S LEGACY. Situated in a family compound in Sitio Sapa, Brgy. San Antonio, San Miguel, Iloilo is a 35-year-old narra tree which has withstood typhoons and floods.

Gilbert Rosal Bernadas planted it in 1978 when he was 17 years old because it can give him a shed, a nest for the birds, good lumber and source of medicine.

Now aged 53 years old, Bernadas has not cut the tree and he has allowed it to spread its branches.

Narra tree in San Miguel, Iloilo with the search’s judges and barangay officials

 UNTOUCHED IN THE WILD. Meanwhile, at the watershed of Ubog Spring in Brgy. Lanupe, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras stands a centennial tree with a circumference of 6 meters.

Antonio Genisan, 59 and caretaker of the Ubog Spring, said that his father told him that it was already there when he was 17 years old.  His father died 10 years ago at the age of 83 years old.

According to the provincial environment and natural resources office, the tree is believed to be enchanted, thus, no one has dared cut its branches.

Individuals passing by the area say to the unseen “Tabi, tabi”, meaning, “let us pass”.

First row: Oton National High School, Quarry area in San Miguel; 
second row: Cabatuan Municipal Hall, Pagsanga-an Elem. School in Pavia; 
and third row: Sta. Barbara Plaza, Leganes Lagoon

TREE PROTECTION. Meanwhile, the Oton National High School’s narra tree has a circumference of 3.8 meters.

Leticia Ramos, 84; and Virginia Hidalgo, 85; residents of Brgy. Poblacion North, Oton, Iloilo said that the narra tree, among others, was planted inside the school in 1946; they estimate it is 67 years old.

To protect their narra trees, the barangay council created an ordinance last February 2013 wherein violators will be fined P300 for the first offense, P600 for the second offense and P1,000 for the third and subsequent offense.

HAIRY GIANT. The Sta. Barbara town plaza has several narra trees and one of them is popularly called the “hairy giant” due to the vines that grow on its trunk and branches.

However, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office forester Grepa Gallego said that although these vines are beautiful, they are parasites that steal the nutrients that the narra tree needs to become better.

It is approximately 30 years old, tall and with branches and leaves evenly spread.

Guimaras. First row: Guimaras Express,
Spring water flows to a container;
second row: Stream, bolo making;
 third row: At the jetty port and children
of Brgy. Lanupe, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION. The narra tree or “Pterocarpus indicus” is the Philippines’ national tree.

It has medicinal properties such as anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, anti-HIV and anti-infection. It also helps in removing urinary stones, it burns fat and relieves joint pains.
The tree is protected by Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of March 20, 2011.

The abovementioned trees are entries in the search for the Biggest, Sturdy and Beautiful Narra Tree among the MIGEDC (Metro Iloilo Guimaras Economic Development Council) member municipalities. Iloilo City is also a member of MIGEDC.

The narra trees were judged last December 16 and 17 based on the following criteria: Diameter or size of the tree (measured from the ground to its first branch), 25%; bole formation (free from rot or defect), 25%; crown formation (should be healthy and vibrant in overall appearance and has even distribution of branches and twigs), 25% and age of the tree, 25%.

Three winners will be announced next year, the date of which will be set.
They winners will receive; first prize, P15,000; second prize, P10,000; and third prize, P5,000./Marie Katherine Villalon

(The writer is a freelance online journalist and graphic artist who communes with nature during her morning and evening walks and prefers to sit on areas surrounded by trees where she can listen to the singing of the birds that reside on them. Their singing is often heard before the sun rises and when the sun sets)

Clockwise: First mango pizza pie from Pitstop, Guimaras; Fred’s Bayi-Bayi in Pavia, Iloilo; 
a pose before lunch at Leah’s Tinuom – Susan Jovero, Grepa Gallego, Remia Capistrano
 and Gemma Alibay; search judges Grepa Gallego, Nelson Defelix and Kathy Villalon; 
and Tinuom na Manok of Cabatuan

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