“Strangeness is a necessary ingredient in beauty.”
― Charles Baudelaire
All I want these days is to imitate the ways of the Boton tree — specifically its wisdom of simply savoring the lightness and radiance of living.
But, alas, I have yet to learn the wisdom of the Boton.
Boton flowers are pink sunburst of unending summers. The buds of flowers confidently peeking from the branches open into burst of pink magic. The tips exquisitely adorned with bright yellow. The petals framing it in immaculate white. In its unopened state, the flowers are like mini hearts ready to explode into cheerful pink and white pompoms the bursting threads mimicking the rays of the sun.
Immensely radiant. Offering her beauty to the summer sun… and at night a feast for nocturnal birds and bats.
Its fruit is a box-like-heart that has a beak seemingly in a permanent grin that is pleasant and welcoming. A long thread-like tongue coming out from the beak adds up to its cheerful look. These fruits dangle happily out of the branches of the mother tree in twos or threes.
Several villagers told me that it can heal (nakabolong) and it can kill (nakahilo). For this reason it is sometimes called as the fish poison tree. This duality is common for healing plants — poison and medicine.
This impressive Boton tree along the beach of Baluarte is prolific unlike some Boton trees also growing near the coast. Its fruits littered the underneath canopy of the tree waiting for the ocean waves to fetch them to another shore or be a ready ‘ball’ toy for local village kids. The fruits are perfect floaters. It was enchanting seeing them calmly float near the water’s edge while the moon rises.
In my present mid journey, I have a long way to go and much to learn. I just hope it is not yet too late. Intense lesson at high noon. Indeed, for me.
Boton is a simple name for a fascinating tree that probably alludes to the stars from heaven. Star is ‘bituon’ in the vernacular.
*Barringtonia asiatica is the botanical name of Boton. All photos were taken from sitio Baluarte, Bulusan, Sorsogon.
Photographs by Alma P. Gamil