Maria Aurora balete

A giant but no longer creepy balete tree in Aurora

An intrepid visitor scaled the roots of this tree from the hollow interior

An intrepid visitor scaled the roots of this tree from the hollow interior

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.

The banyan tree in Maria Aurora is one of the popular tourist stops in the province

The banyan tree in Maria Aurora is one of the popular tourist stops in the province

The blogger Dennis (Love Mindanao) gives scale to the sheer size of this tree

The blogger Dennis (Love Mindanao) gives scale to the sheer size of this tree

Monkeying for the camera above ground level

Monkeying for the camera above ground level

At the hollow interior of the balete tree

At the hollow interior of the balete tree

The balete tree as seen from afar

The balete tree as seen from afar

This trip to Aurora province made possible by Costa Pacifica. Check them out at their website, in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

2 Comments

  1. Estan Cabigas (@EstanCabigas)
    October 6, 2015 @ 23:35

    A giant but no longer creepy balete tree in Aurora: An intrepid visitor scaled the roots of this tree from the… http://t.co/Hk7OxT9KFf

  2. Estan, Ang Langyaw (@LangyawMedia)
    October 7, 2015 @ 21:13

    I’ve seen bigger and creepier balete trees than this one in Aurora http://t.co/PsI1qWDoK2 http://t.co/oQtzUuOMtO

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