I looked forward to my trip in Baler in Aurora as it was not just a revisit, after 15 long years! But I was sure that we will definitely head to Maria Aurora for that giant balete (banyan) tree that is purported to be 600 years old. I’m not sure if it really is of that age, unless someone can show me some studies. Yes, I’ve seen the photos online and it really looked scary with all those root system, the hollow interior and its sheer size.
Balete trees starts as epiphytes and is actually from the fig family. Seeds probably dropped by birds grow on tree hosts with the roots eventually filling up cracks in the bark. Eventually, it outgrows the tree, shutting off sunlight and nourishment as it takes over its host. The host tree just dies off and weathers away, creating a hollow in the interior. It’s also called a strangler fig as shown in its growing years as it envelopes the tree host.
I’m always fascinated with these trees. In fact, I’ve posted two in this blog: one in Kalibo and the other one in Jimenez in Misamis Occidental that will really creep you out! It’s amazing to look at, with all those complicated roots growing out from the trunks, hanging down to the ground where it will eventually inter. And like this one, it’s a tourist attraction in itself.
The van finally stopped as I gazed out the window and saw this giant tree. Ah, there she is. As with most tourist, it’s an opportunity to be photographed and you know that a lot of visitors has come this way as even the guides are the one telling them how to pose for the photos. One of us bloggers, Dennis of Love Mindanao was game enough to pose in these photos that I took.
Yes, it’s big. But creepy? I don’t believe so. If other world beings truly exist, they’ve long been gone from this tree as another form of beings, the tourists have invaded their home.