Saturday, October 17, 2009

Finding in the Island of Cebu

I attended the 9th ACARE in San Carlos University in Cebu. I took the opportunity to do a little research on my thesis on native tree. I was not expecting much to find, (except maybe an encounter with the cebu cinnamon, which I was positive would not happen), but it turned out that this short multipurpose trip (my second, but first in the 12 years) was a sort of discovery of unexpected finds, and the absence of the supposedly familiar. The following is the rundown of what I found and what I did not.

We went to Bangkal in Mactan Island. I previously wrote about bangkal or Nauclea orientalis in Boracay, and since the place in Mactan was named after this tree, I was trying to spot specimens. Though Mactan coasts are typically the place where you could find bangkal I did not get to see a single specimen. Bangkal proved to be elusive to me in Bangkal, Cebu.

We headed fo Portofino Beach, Also in Mactan. I was surprised to find a botong tree in flower, in the middle of a hot sunny day. Most botongs or Barringtonia asiatica bloom at night and they only last till dawn or th early hours of the morning. That its why for 3 years, I did not get to photograph a botong flower till now. Every time I see a botong in flower, I usually do not have a camera with me and when i plan to hunt for a flowering tree, there was none.

I finally reached Ford's Inn in Banilad, Cebu City. I have heard of Banilad before but not as a Cebu barangay but as a vernacular name for Sterculia comosa. I have seen banilad trees before in Bohol. But I was trying to find banilad trees in banilad, but did not spot any in my strolls. But banilad was included in the list of Prof. Franz Seidenschwarz's website of Cebu native trees.

Incidentally I was trying to get in touch with Mr. Seidenschwarz for the longest time. I have heard of him as the one managing the San Carlos seedling nursery. But i did not get the chance to contact him. San Carlos Prof Joy Avila gave me his contact details and ironically he held his office in Ford's Inn. I immediately went back to the place where I am staying to find Mr. Seidenschwarz but again he was not there. He was out of town but his assistant Elena sold me a copy of his book Plant World of the Philippines. And she gave me a new and updated email address. Hopefully I would get a hold of the elusive professor.

Lastly I was looking for a very useful book, again for my thesis - Margaret Barwick's Tropical and Subtropical Trees, A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide. I saw this comprehensive book with Ime Sarmiento of Hortica Filipina. I searched the local bookstores for a copy but to no avail. I also tried the internet but the price is exuberant at 100 dollars. Plus it became doubly expensive because of the shipping and handling cost. But again unexpectedly I found a bookstore in Banilad Town Center selling the book at cost minus the handling. The small Cagnaan Booksale store seemed like a so and so bookstore but surprisingly they were carrying significant and hard to find titles, stuff you can't find even in Manila. It seems fate is really working it out for me to finish my thesis on time next semester.

Cebu proved to be a fruitful trip for me to make. I hope to see the countryside next time i get to see the queen city of the south.


mayen said...

Sir, if you want to buy banilad seedlings, we can sell it @ P25 each at the RAFI Native Trees and Vetiver Grass Nursery here in Cebu. You may reach us through this number 418-7234 local 515.

We also have kaningag (Cebu cinnamon), kulatingan, olapong, malakape, malaabokado, taguibenlod and other native tree species in the Visayas. To date, we have more than a hundred tree species in our nursery.

The RAFI Native Trees and Vetiver Grass Nursery is a project of the Ramon Aboitiz foundation Inc.

PinoyApache said...

Baringtonia asiatica is called "bitoon" here in Cebu. There really are a lot of banilad trees in Banilad, Cebu City or in Banilad, Mandaue City.

Ecoman Durban said...

Thank you for this valuable resource

It has helped me to gain knowledge of the native cebu flora which i am researching in connection with planned botanical excursions from Biasong Bay in the San Remigio area.


and my blog at

I would like to make contact to anyone that can help with tours and helping to learn local plants i am also interested in birds

Michael Hickman
South Africa

i can be contacted at