The Oldest Tree
There has been one too many strange tales about the 1,328 year old Balete Tree (known as Lunok in the Visayan dialect and Dalakit in Cebuano) that stands amid the rice and coffee plantations of OISCA Farm in Lumabao, Canlaon City. The oldest recorded tree in the province and perhaps even in the country, this tree has been a lone witness to Canlaon City’s progress and evolution.
The Wonder Balate
Today they call it the “wonder balete” because of the mystery that hovers around its existence and why it has been isolated from all the other Balete trees as if picked out and planted on just this one specific spot. Every night, curious travelers could not help but gaze in awe at a now-illuminated tree – the doing of many hundreds of fireflies that have come to take refuge in its wide and sturdy branches. Thus, another title – Canlaon’s all year round Christmas tree. From a distance, the tree would look somehow enchanted.
The Wonder Balete is now one of Canlaon City’s major tourist destinations, drawing attention from foreigners, travelers, and the media. After all it is the only known tree that has lived for over a thousand years. Its trunk is so enormous that it would take a total of 42 individuals to link outstretched hands together just to be able to embrace it. The diameter of the tree is estimated to be more than a hundred centimeters. At the heart of this wide tree trunk is an alcove where lizards, bats and many insects have made it into their natural habitat.
Folklore has it that many spirits dwell in this mysterious old tree. Filipinos with a strong background on superstitious beliefs and traditions would always mutter a respectful word or two to request for permission to touch its bark, to walk around it or even just to inspect it closely. It is believed that provoking the spirits can cause you great harm and illness.
How to get to Canlaon and Oldest Tree
Canlaon City is 165.7 kilometers from Dumaguete City or about 4 hours travel time by road. Once in the Canlaon City proper, asking directions to OISCA Farm or the Balete Tree would not be difficult because of its popularity. The tree has become one of the city’s biggest tourism lures and has helped both in developing and strengthening the tourism industry. Also when joining an organized group trek to Mt. Kanlaon National Park of Mt. Kanlaon, stopping by the Wonder Tree could be one of the planned activities.