I feel it—the mystery of this amazing tree.
This ancient balete tree is found in the middle of the OISCA farm in Barangay Lumapao. Lumapao means beyond or above in Visayan.
This 1300 year-old lunok or balete tree is one of the oldest or the oldest in the Philippines. It’s located in Barangay Lumapao or the “beyond village” on Mount Kanlaon.
Botanists of Siliman University estimated its about 1328 years old. “lunok” in the Visayan dialect translates to “balete.”
IF YOU VISIT TOO, please please don’t leave your trash around or carve into the bark. The tree, the beautiful countryside deserves much more respect than most people give it.
My cousin recognized the sacred nature of the ancient tree, as he observed the disappointing carvings in the bark and the discarded food wrappers in the grass.
OISCA honors the tree by planting tall eucaluptus trees on both sides of the narrow road going to the tree…
The local people say that fireflies dance in the trunk of this tree during the night. enchanting.
The giant tree might have once been several trees that merged together, whether or not on purpose, through the centuries. Only the ancestral spirits know. I get a feeling of ancient gatherings here. Don’t you get a sense that long ago, the people gathered here for special occassions? I do.
See walk-in space in video below…
The agta or aeta negrito tribes (Australo-Melanesians) lived here long enough to have called the originally island Buglas meaning cut-off. These indigenous were the earliest known inhabitants of the island who knew that the island was cut-off from a larger land mass. Because of these original people, the Spanish named this island “Islas delos Negros” or island of the blacks, and in the 20th century, with the colonization by the US, the name’s been anglicized to “Negros Island.”
15 years ago, I asked “how did my ancestors get so much land on the island and what happened to the aeta people who lived there?” When I ask relatives I get blank stares. The history is forgotten, dark, hidden, unknown.
I have pieces of a story… My great, great, great grandparents were part of a wave of settlers granted rights by the ruling Spanish colonizers. The Spanish gave this ilustrado class of Filipinos land rights to this island… there is no oral history in our family about how thousands of hectares of the lowland was gotten or taken, or what happened on the land… how did my ancestors tell the aetas not to come unto their newly claimed staked land. What happened to the aetas that fled to the mountains, the parts that were more difficult to plant crops on? If the island was once Islas delos Negritos because it had thousands of aeta people on it, how did their numbers dwindle?
I feel sick to my stomach when I think of this.
I have had dreams and strange encounters. I have found out that my great grandparents and their children were proud, aristocratic people, but also greedy and selfish. I have come to the prayers that heal the land and the karma of my ancestors who took this land.
On July 18th, the eldest male and female grandchild of Simplicio’s clan came to visit this ancient tree and pay their respects. The eldest female, a mystic, stepped into the high ceiling hall of the magnificent tree, and then she placed golden-hued fruit, and pure white roasted seeds, within the altar-like spaces. She viewed the careless wounds, of modern names carved into the bark. And she prayed many prayers of sorrow, apologies, forgiveness, love and gratitude. She spoke to the tree. She spoke to the people who once lived on the island. She spoke to the ancestors and the spirits of the land. She spoke to the volcano lumbering above, Kanlaon.
Later that day they came home to the tiny piece of land left to them after over the century. The eldest female grandchild, prayed at the sacred grotto that her mom had built after her visions of wounded, suffering spirits.
She came to the altar and cleared the overgrown brush. The following days, the pink, roses bloomed in delight.
A baby bird was found dead on the front steps of the new house. Killed by a cat. The eldest female granddaughter took the dead baby bird and placed it at the foot of the grotto and buried it. To be fertilizer to the plants and food for the red ants.