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 =)

Close up of Salimbobog flowers
Its other name "Balai Lamok" may refer to the insects flying around the blooms
which are NOT actually lamok (mosquitoes)!
Salimbobog tree in full bloom!!
The white flowers eventually turn yellow and the tree loses most of its leaves.

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.

Banaba blooms
Banaba leaves are used to make herbal tea which is used a 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.

Stunning Jade Vine which is endemic to the Philippines

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.
Our Philippine National Tree, 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.

A lousy photo of Bagawak blooms
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! =)