What is a heritage tree?
It is a tree designated by the local or national government
as a protected tree because of its historic or natural significance.
In most cities around the world,
any tree that has a minimum trunk diameter of 15 inches
or circumference of 45 inches ;
is an endemic or native species,
and lastly, has a special character,
an important historical or community significance,
is considered a heritage tree and must be protected.
Therefore heritage trees
are legally protected and property of the province or country.
These trees are to be protected and maintained in a good state of health.
In most countries, these trees are under the care of the city arborist.
In other places, they form heritage societies
whose sole purpose is the care, maintenance
and protection of these heritage trees.
In Kanlaon City,
there is a Balete tree that is said to be 1,328 years old
(according to the provincial government).
It stands in the middle of the rice and coffee plantation
of OISCA Farm in Lumabao, Canlaon City.
It is said to be the oldest tree in Negros Oriental
and perhaps also of the Philippines.
At night, it appears to be illuminated
because of the thousands of fireflies that take refuge in its crown.
Thus, the locals think that the tree is enchanted
and inhabited by fairies that have special powers
that they use to the maximum when provoked.
Maybe it is the reason why the locals
have restrained themselves from chopping it down.
Local children, lovers, and teens love to climb this majestic tree.
It has also become a major tourist attraction in the city.
This tree has long and sturdy roots,
with large and spreading branches for a crown.
We loved climbing this tree.
The national and local government in the Philippines
seem to have not yet come to the awareness of the concept of heritage trees,
as they think of this tree only as a tourist attraction.
But, it is more than a tourist attraction.
If the government has not taken action, I will.
It meets all the criteria of a heritage tree.
The trunk diameter of the tree is way more than the 15 inches minimum.
It is old and has witnessed the history of Canalon City.
It gives playful joy to the locals and visitors.
It has a special character
because it is a natural habitat to thousands of fireflies and other wildlife.
It is also the home of the most respected
and everlasting residents of the area- the powerful tree fairies.
I therefore baptize it
as the Heritage Tree of Canlaon,
in the name of the birds,
the fairies and the people who climb it
and breathe the oxygen it emits.