Thursday, July 29, 2010

Finally to the Land of Pili

I was asked to chaperone a masteral class to a field trip to Sorsogon. Because of a few personal reasons I declined but at the last minute decided to join the group. After all I have not been to that part of the Philippines, Bicol, where the pili trees grow wild.

At 7 am we touched down the tarmac of Legaspi airport. We were hopeful because Mayon volcano's still almost perfect cone was visible while the plane made its descent. But on the runway, most of it was already blocked from view by some low clouds. The sky was semi clear promising lesser chance of rain (which we were very thankful for). Nine of us were picked up in Legaspi by the staff of Senator Chiz Escudero. We were there to collect data for the class's landscape evaluations and the Sorsogon staff of the senator's office was so generous in hosting us.

I have seen quite a number of pili trees, Canarium ovatum, specimens in and around Metro Manila but I have not seen specimens in its natural geographic distribution, Bicol. In Sorsogon the ubiquitous species is practically everywhere. Plus the pili products are very much available.

The difference of trees seen in Manila? Most trees I saw in Bicol have bigger leaves, probably because they are more ancient, with wider trunks and crowns. But smaller individuals are also common as pili is being promoted as both landscape tree and reforestation species, which is good news. At least in Bicol there is another alternative to the famous mahogany.

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