Let’s Give Philippine Trees a Chance!

“The Salimbobog blossoms, or Balai Lamok, can be considered as one of the most beautiful flowers in the world.”

That sentence is one that I edited. It is the first line in a recent online article I read which mentions the Cherry blossoms, or “sakura”, instead of the Salimbobog. I used the name of our very own native tree instead of the more popular Japanese tree and the statement still holds true =)

I think the cherry trees are beautiful, there is no denying that. That’s why hordes of tourists make their way to Japan during the flowering season of their national tree. Seeing parks and roads lined with the trees in full bloom is truly a sight to behold. The Japanese take pride in the beauty of what is theirs and worked hard to share their natural treasure with the rest of the world. And so we all enjoy it. And so we imitate it.

There really is nothing wrong with the appreciation of beauty, especially that of nature. The sad part is when we focus on what others have and remain ignorant of what WE have.

Eh ano nga ba ang meron tayo???

The Philippines is blessed with over 3500 species of trees. Three thousand five hundred. Three-five. As a Filipino, how many do you know? And how many can you identify?

While the Japanese have been working hard to promote their beautiful cherry blossoms, we Filipinos have been busy imitating them: promoting what is theirs. We should be busy promoting what is OURS. We should be inspired by their efforts, not only of the actual plant.

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Banaba blooms. Banaba leaves are used to make herbal tea which is used in traditional treatment for digestive problems, kidney disease, and also diabetes.

The recent news that a cherry blossom park will be opening soon in Benguet has generated both love and hate. Love that says “Yes! We don’t have to fly all the way to Japan to see and experience the beauty of cherry blossoms! Tipid!” Hate that shouts “Why the f*ck did they plant exotic trees when we have so many beautiful native ones?!”

I choose to see this as a golden opportunity.

It is an opportunity for people to SHARE what they know. Lord knows the current curriculum does not include teaching about native trees aside from “The National Tree of the Philippines is the narra. Bow.” I’m learning so much now as an adult, reading my friends’ posts about native trees and animals. So if you do know a lot, share what you know.

Jade Vine02-02

Stunning Jade Vine, a Philippine endemic

It is an opportunity for people to LEARN about how truly beautiful the Philippines is. I’ve only seen the Salimbobog this year. I’ve only began to earnestly learn about the trees around me a few years ago. It’s never too late to learn something new. After learning about the cherry blossoms, learn about a Philippine tree next.

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Our Philippine National Tree, the Nara, in full bloom!

It is an opportunity to for people to be AWARE. I cannot blame people for being all excited about the Benguet cherry blossom park. I bet they are not aware of the other native flowering trees in our own country! People literally do not know! So, we all have to do our part because God knows the institutions put in place to educate us need all the help they can get! My friends have posted pictures of flowering banaba, dapdap, molave, dita… there are so many! Aware ka ba? Ako, hindi pa masyado. But I’m getting there.

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A lousy photo of Bagawak bloom. Need to get a better photo soon!

So, with the opening of the Philippine cherry blossom park, I think it’s also time we open our eyes and see our own Filipino beauty!

Now, I’m off to see a flowering molave. It’s not just a dorm, you know 😉 #corny

I always refer to this site for more information about Philippine Native Trees.

Happy tree-spotting! =)

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11 thoughts on “Let’s Give Philippine Trees a Chance!

    • Hi Jacqueline! I’m trying to come up with a list of possible sources for seedlings of native trees. I’ll post it as soon as I get more info! But for now, you can try the plant stores in Quezon Memorial Circle. Some of them moved from the former Manila Seedling Bank =) Hope this helps!

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  1. I was just thinking about the same thing when i read the article about the cherry trees… Wouldnt it be amazing if we had a fire tree festival? I believe it blooms around the tail end of summer. I think it would be amazing if we had hils and mountains carpeted in scarlet!

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    • Hi Richelle! That would be a wonderful sight! But you know, I also just learned that the beautiful fire trees are actually introduced species! But they’ve been thriving around us for years already and have blended with the rest of the native trees. There’s so much to learn! =)

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    • Hi there! Yes! It’s a wonderful thing that people are starting to pay more attention and are showing more interest in what the Philippines has =) I’m learning too and it’s great! =)

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  2. Going Native: Sustaining Philippine Natural Heritage

    June 28, 2016 News & Updates, Sustainability

    Urban landscapes are a community’s shared resource. It enhances surroundings and offers a wide range of social and health benefits. Often overlooked, however, is how the type of trees and plants used in landscaping affects a property’s impact and contribution to urban biodiversity and sustainability.

    Through the years, Ayala Land has deepened its understanding of native plants and recognizes the importance of landscaping with the right plant or tree species in its developments. Employing a scientific approach to sustainability, Ayala Land uses indigenous plants for its developments and continuously works with experts in Philippine native plants.

    “In addition to providing an aesthetically pleasing landscape, our approach is also based on scientific findings on what will best keep the ecosystem balanced, which is the key to sustainability”, said Gilbert Berba, Ayala Land Planning Group Head of Operations.

    To share its distinctive approach to sustainability, Ayala Land, through Ayala Malls, launched Lov’em Blooms to showcase 20 Philippine orchid species and five ornamental plants across its various shopping malls nationwide.

    “Showcasing the Philippines’ native flora is one way of sharing with our countrymen our natural heritage even in an urban setting. At the end of the day, we want people to live in a place that promotes a healthy lifestyle through sustainable green living,” added Berba.

    About 60 to 80 percent of the trees planted in new large-scale Ayala Land developments are native. To date, the company has planted more than 60,000 native trees in Nuvali, Ayala Land’s flagship eco-community in Laguna. Thousands more are planted in other developments.

    Ayala Land has been landscaping with native plants and has been an active partner of the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society (PNPCSI) in activities that advocate the use of native plants such as tree walks held in Ayala Malls. It has also been working with Filipino landscape architects and scientists to continuously determine the best native species that will work in urban landscapes. To ensure a sustainable supply, it has established native plant nurseries in its communities.

    “We hope our approach transforms people’s views about Philippine plants and urban landscapes that are truly appropriate for our geography and climate, and are therefore more resilient. Native plants also create a natural habitat for birds, butterflies and most especially, provide a refreshing environment where we people can live healthy, thus, live well,” Berba said.

    Among the company’s initial plant palette, made up of 75 indigenous tree species from 38 plant families, are the beautiful and sturdy Dita (Alstonia scholaris), the hardy Bitaog (Calophyllum blancoi), the stately Bagras (Eucalyptus deglupta), the striking Siar (Peltophorum pterocarpum). Ayala Land also identifies native trees that grow naturally in new developments and recommends that these should be utilized by landscapers and designers as much as possible. In this way, Philippine native species are given the necessary attention to make sure that these will thrive for many years and benefit more generations.

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