Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Mystic Balete Tree of Baler

The Baler balete
The super root structure
Into the cavity
Today we got to see the 500 year old humongous balete tree located in one of the remote barangays of Baler municipality.  The historic tree has long been standing as one of the pride of Aurora province but sadly has been deemed a tourist spot. It constantly is plagued by influx of tourists and enterprising locals. Now we were among them, trying to check out the marvel of this fig tree's natural wonder.
Ficus hugging
The balete is a Ficus, probably F. baleteF. philippinensis or a close relative.  It is a strangler that probably started from the branches of another tree bringing out numerous aerial roots and branches over time.  The five hundred year history has built a formidable fortress of root network.  It already choked its former host and remnants of it have vanished without a trace.  In its place is a cavity void allowing people to climb the magnificent tree.  Local children are the expert climbers, doing the feat to the amusement of spectators and of course a fee.

The Ficus' side view
My companions from U.P. Diliman number 30.  They tried to encompass the diameter of the balete tree by measuring it collectively at arms' length. Thirty was not enough to circle the tree trunk's circumference.  But some faculty, especially the history and theory of design teachers were hesitant in joining in. They said they felt the presence of elementals and a couple of 'tikbalangs' (supernatural beings half man half horse). The tikbalangs were apparently sleeping and the U.P. Arki crowd's commotion was disturbing them.  So we decided to cut our curiosity short and head back to our hotel, to leave the supernatural beings in their tiresome peace. The balete's super structure will give them the proper shelter they need for their mystical slumber.

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