SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 08 August) — The giant centuries-old Philippine Rosewood tree (Petersianthus quarialatus), locally known as Toog and believed to be the tallest and oldest in the country, was given yet another lease of life.
This is the second time the 54-meter high Toog tree, located along the Maharlika Highway in Barangay Alegria here, was saved at the last minute after it was supposed to be cut down on Sunday, August 8, barely a year after it was also given a reprieve as a result of an agreement between concerned local residents, tree preservation advocates and local government officials.
Mayor Solomon Rufila suspended the planned cutting of the tree as he heeded the appeal of five local civic group leaders led by Engr. Mauro Bravo Jr., retired district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways and an old-timer of this town.
Rufila set a meeting with the concerned groups on Monday, August 10, to resolve the issue.
The heritage tree, estimated to be 300 years old and an eco-tourism landmark of this town, was marked for cutting by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to eliminate the hazard to motorists and commuters should it collapse.
The cutting of the Toog tree was approved through Resolution No. 127, Series of 2020 on June 15, 2020 of the Sangguniang Bayan after they agreed with the findings of DENR’s Forest and Wetland Research Development and Extension Center (FWRDEC) in Bislig City that hardwood specie is already posing high potential hazard with a rating of 5.4 based on biomechanical and structural analysis.
But Dr. Marcelina Pacho, a tree surgeon who was a former pathologist of DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, said the tree can still be treated by pruning the branches and cleaning the cavities with fungicide.
Pacho made this recommendation during her visit here in September last year, upon the request of the local government, to let her personally see the health status of the giant Toog.
Pacho said the tree repair procedure is similar to dental work by cleaning the cavity and reinforce it with concrete mix or cement. “With this we can stop the further decay by 90 percent and I believe we can prolong the life of the tree,” she told reporters then.
Pruning of branches and cleaning of fungi inside a meter-wide hole on its buttress roots were done twice last year but there was no reinforcement with cement or concrete mix as Pacho had recommended to the local government. (Chris V. Panganiban / MindaNews)