By Jose Aldous Rubi Arbon
Campalanas, Lazi — Alejandro Duran shares some stories of the local folk in Campalanas in the town of Lazi about their experiences surrounding the famous 400-year old balite (Genus – Ficus) tree in their village. Since he was eight years old, Butch has heard of these mystical stories. It is a long-held belief that the balite tree is a kingdom where enchanted creatures, such as fairies and goblins, dwell hence it has been a tradition that the tree is respected and protected.
Being a successful entrepreneur of banana chips and peanut products, Butch understands the importance of preserving the local resources of Lazi, especially the balite tree. He actively links with local and provincial government agencies in keeping the magnificent resource clean and accessible to those who want to enjoy its bounty.
At present, the local folk have developed a pool to contain the fresh water that springs from the base of the balite tree. Tourists and locals regularly come to the balite tree to enjoy the fresh spring water’s fish spa, as they marvel its beauty and listen to the enchanting stories handed down from one generation to the next.
I remember Emiliano Saplot would gather us village children and tell about the balite tree across his house. It was during the 1940’s and his house served as a camp for the Japanese soldiers. He was then a teniente del barrio. One night he went off to nearby shore to look for a catch of fish. When he was a kilometer away from home somebody called him. A man introduced himself as Pablo Cabebo. They talked while they were walking, and suddenly Emiliano asked Pablo where he lived. Pablo answered he was his neighbor. Emiliano just kept silent because he knew that there was no other house nearby his.
When they were already in front of Emiliano’s house, Emiliano excused himself and parted company with Pablo. Pablo politely allowed Emiliano to take his path home. Emiliano took a look once at Pablo, and Pablo slowly walked towards a Balete tree which faced Emiliano’s house. Pablo then disappeared into the body of the tree.
The story of a Balete tree being inhabited by people who disappear continues to be confirmed by subsequent ones. Emiliano would continue to tell another story about a woman named Angga Mejos. Angga Mejos just disappeared from home, and alarmed her family and the villagers took efforts to search for her.
No Angga was found until the fifth day of her disappearance.
Angga resurfaced and told her family and the villagers that a man brought her to beautiful castle. When she was asked where could it be founded, she pointed her finger to a Balete tree.
Angga resurfaced and told her family and the villagers that a man brought her to a beautiful castle. When she was asked where could it be found, she pointed her finger to a Balete tree.
Emiliano said that the man began to court Angga but their meeting no longer happened at the castle. The man would visit literally Angga at her house, and for two weeks he continuously did that. Who was the man? Nobody knew. He suddenly disappeared again. Angga now lives in America.
The Balete tree being a castle was made magnified by the story of five men who as herdsmen went to look for “kumpay” to feed their animals. They stopped by the Balete tree and they decided that only two should climb up. The two then cut a big branch off the Balete tree and when it fell they heard the sound of broken plates and shattered glasses. Was that part of the tree the kitchen of the castle?
The two men then died.
Finally for almost a year now a girl from Bacolod asked her mother if she saw a woman taking a swing. Her mother asked the daughter where did she see the woman. The child pointed her finger at the Balete tree. It happened in the afternoon when her family stopped by at the tree for a vacation in Siquijor.
Why did the woman refuse to be seen by the girl’s mother?
The story stops there.
About the writer:
Jose Aldous Rubi Arbon is a Law student of the University of the East in Manila and the political affairs assistant in the office of Congressman Guillermo A. Romarate, Jr., representative of the 2nd district of Surigao del Norte in the Philippines. He is a native of Larena, a neighboring town of Lazi in Siquijor.