AURORA | Balete Park
Enchanted And Gargantuan
Placed in an enclosure, much like a park. This tree is so big I have to get far away, much far If I intend to place the tree in the entire frame of a picture. This photo is already is a long shot but still I only got half of it in the frame.
When it comes to folklore, we Filipino's have it all. I'm proud to say that I had seen the Philippine's Millenium Tree, thought to be the largest of its specie in Asia. But getting the facts straight can be tricky, it is only almost 600 years - some 563 years old (hoping I got it right) as told by a local in Aurora. It is by far the type of tree that invokes fear of the supernaturals that is thought to reside in it. It's no wonder we have exciting stories like "Babae Sa Balete Drive" which is about the White Lady in the Balete Drive. A ghost story that had me enthralled and scared to my wits as a kid.
Balete park is one of Aurora's main attraction, with no entrance fees. Such a keeper as a gift from mother nature. I've outgrown my fears of Balete trees, for me they have become fascinating even though they can look sinister. I took time playing around this tree, and by its age, its already a killer. People sometimes do not realize that the hollowed area inside a Balete may have been the place of the old tree host that this Banyan tree strangled to death. Tree's like this sometimes start out as parasites to other bigger trees, while taking root, grappling the host tree, stealing sunshine and other nutrients and eventually hugging it to death. No wonder it can invoke such horror stories. Probably one of the reason why it can survive so much passage of time is because people would normally stay away from it, not only that, its wood is of low grade and quality that it's not very useful for any wood products, well aside from it being a place of ritual for our local shamans. Naturally, this wonder of a tree is also a host to some endemic birds and other wildlife, it's Gargantuan size is not a misplaced at all.
Ferns growing along its trunk and branches going out everywhere, at approximate of 60 feet high. Its a giant and a class of its own.
This now famous Balete Tree in Brgy Quirino, Maria Aurora, Aurora Province is a gargantuan size. It is not the oldest Balete, but we are still proud because in fact the true Millennium tree is 1,328 years. Twice the age of our charming Balete tree in Aurora province and is actually found in Lumapao, Canlaon City Negros Oriental, Philippines. There is also an old enchanted Balete tree thought to be over 400 years old in Brgy Capalan, Lazi Siquijor adding a blend of mysticism to its beautiful home province.
Reading the names of Ficus Nucifera, an ideal plant for Bonsai's is one and the same as Balete. And knowing that we actually have 7,107 and more islands and islets in our archipelago. Who knows we may have something much older than these noticeably huge trees out there in one of our islands, it may have grown stunted but enduring just like a Bonsai.
Walkways actually surround the tree. nice playground for kids that do not easily tire out because well, just going around the corner is a whole new perspective.
Local kids are at play in here. They act as guides to visitors without really asking for fees and they can easily hide among the branches and caverns inside. A perfect cover without the need for camouflage.
Now if you think that Millenium Trees can only be in the form of Balete (Fig Tree) then you are mistaken. Our country is also blessed with other enduring species of trees like the Bitaog which are normally found in Mindanao and Mimaropa Regions that includes Palawan. It can also live for thousands of years. Check this link from The Chronicles Of Love Mindanao about Bitaog | The Philippine Centennial tree said to be 1,523 years old
I can play too, but I'm not even halfway through the tree trunk and I'm sweating from exertion. I look so out of place compared to this piece of history.
Here's is myself, trying to traverse the tree's root and grapple it to my ascent. I hope that next time you see a huge Balete, you do not only think of Mysticism but also the history that it has bear witness, both Natural and Human. Who knows, maybe you could learn something more of how fascinating our Natural history is. Now if you know of another tree, fascinating, ginormous and other superlatives like this tree. Let me know, and maybe I could pay a visit and have fun playing while learning like this one.
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