Native trees named ‘Iloilo’ to promote biodiversity

SENATOR Franklin Drilon and Dr. Jurgenne Primavera lead the planting of the Iloilo trees at the Capitol grounds on Aug 17, 2019. (Photo by Joselito Villasis)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

TWO tree saplings of a native tree named “Iloilo tree” (Aglaia argentea) were planted at the Provincial Capitol grounds on Saturday in a bid to promote biodiversity and the rich Ilonggo heritage.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon led the tree planting activity together with Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, Honey Beso, chief of the National Museum in Western Visayas, and other government officials in the city and province of Iloilo.

According to Drilon, the tree planting activity is a significant contribution to the cultural heritage of Iloilo, as it is the only province that has a tree named in its honor.

“This is a significant event because we can truly say that here in Iloilo we are preserving our cultural heritage. This is the only province which has a tree named in its honor so that makes it more significant,” he said.

Mayor Jerry Trenas said the Iloilo tree will give a sense of pride to the Ilonggos.

“This Iloilo tree if propagated will give a sense of pride, a sense of belonging para sa aton pumuluyo kag siguro biskan ako man gusto ko man magtanom Iloilo tree because I want to be part of history,” he said.

He added that the activity is in line with his goal to plant 10,000 trees in Iloilo City by the end of the year.

“Ang aton target is to really Plant 10,000 trees by 2019, and we have planted 2,000 na so far we have a long way to go pa,” he noted.

Dr. Jurgenne Primavera, chief mangrove scientific advisor of the Zoological society of London-Philippines, said the tree was called “Iloilo” by a Catholic priest in 1840 who observed that the trees have been growing in numbers in Iloilo.

However, the trees were cut down by the same Ilonggo residents as they have no idea of its importance, Primavera added.

“Unfortunately, medyo wala na siya sa Iloilo because Ilonggos themselves were not aware of its importance,” she lamented.

A number of Iloilo trees are still surviving in parts of Luzon, Mindanao, and Capiz, according to Primavera, emphasizing that the place most fitting for the re-propagation of the trees should be in Iloilo.

“It is a natural asset for the local government. Iloilo tree is unique being the only tree that was named after a place, usually places are named after a tree,” she said.

Aside from its historical significance, Primavera furthered that the native tree also play a great role on reforestation and biodiversity.

“During Typhoon Frank in 2008, the watershed sa Maasin, Iloilo indi ka-hold water and nagbaha ang downtown Iloilo. Ang problema that time was mahogany and bamboo were planted on the watershed and indi sila ka-hold ang roots, so wala soil and indi ma-hold ang water,” she explained.

According to Primavera, the Iloilo tree can grow up to 30 meters tall and can live up to 100 years.

The Iloilo trees planted in the Provincial Capitol grounds were already the fourth and fifth trees that are being grown here in Iloilo.

One is being nurtured by a group of health practitioners at Western Visayas Medical Center while the other two is at the Ateneo de Iloilo, and at Primavera’s own tree park.