I was looking for some local trees to document the list of which I carry with me but stumbled on this beautiful Dao tree instead located near the entrance of San Vicente National High School in Bulusan. Dao (Dracontomelon dao) is also native but it is not the subject that I need at this time. Nonetheless, the tree is so irresistible it deserves its own post.
The tree is the perfect picture of grace and strength in one frame. There was no need for me to exert much effort. This Dao tree literally photographs itself.
“Be careful being near the tree, ” the canteen owner warned. “Recently one of the teachers consulted a parabolong (folkhealer) for an unknown skin ailment. They say that the teacher often walks near the tree to find some signal for her phone. Maybe she did not acknowledge the tree territory. She has forgotten to ask permission to the Dao tree.”
“Oh, I did. But thanks for the reminder,” I replied with a knowing smile.
Before I left, I thanked the Dao tree. Acknowledging the presence of an unseen dweller in trees and some nature spots and giving due respect to them is an aged-old custom in Bulusan. A simple ‘makitabi,’ when asking permission to enter a certain spot and ‘salamat’ (thank you) will suffice. I do this routinely in all of my photo treks involving trees and nature scenes. It helps.
So far, I have never experience any ire from unseen spirits which the local generally refer to as ‘may tawo’ alluding to the unseen person/dweller of a tree or a spot. Being respectful to all — unseen or not is for me a very sensible way of going around the villages. Following this custom in fact gives a welcoming feel for every place I visit. And to my delight the photos almost always turned out great!
Photo: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines