Siquijor’s Mysterious Balete Tree

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In the Philippines, some people believe that balete trees are homes of mystical beings such as the bearded smoking “kapre” and the demon horse “tikbalang.”

These trees are also where sorcery rituals are being performed. In Siquijor, we found a 400-plus year-old balete tree which is believed by the locals to be enchanted to this day.

Siquijor’s Balete Tree
 

The balete tree belongs to the family of fig trees (from the genus Ficus). There are several species, about 10 of 800 are found in the Philippines. The balete tree is also known as the banyan in other parts of the world. It’s a type of ficus, or what’s also called a strangler fig tree, since the tree grows around a host tree and strangles it.

The 400-plus year-old tree of Lazi, Siquijor
 

The leaves are about 6-9 centimeters long and are smooth, pointed, and shiny.

Siquijor’s Balete Tree
 

The tree stands at 8 meters up to 20 meters high with adventitious roots from its branches and trunk.

Siquijor’s Balete Tree
 

According to this website, the uses of balete are as follows:

  • Skin eruptions and dermatitis – boil one cup of chopped bark in ½ gallon of water for 10 minutes; use decoction to wash involved areas, twice daily.
  • Decoction of aerial rootlets used for wounds, cuts and sores.
  • Bark is astringent and used as styptics for wounds.
  • Decoction of latex for parasitic worms.

 

Siquijor’s Balete Tree
 

One of the more popular balete trees in the Philippines can be found in Brgy. Campalanas, Lazi, Siquijor.

 

Siquijor’s Balete Tree
 

The 400-plus year-old balete tree is believed to be the oldest and the biggest in the said island-province.

 

Choose Philippines Visayas editor Belle Piccio with Dustin Mijares at the centuries-old balete tree
 

Local and foreign tourists are always drawn by the tree’s massive root system. It’s a popular spot to take souvenir photos.

The Biyahe Team: Biyaheros Rushty Ramos and Jay Jalandoni with Dustin Mijares listening to the stories of the caretakers of Siquijor’s mysterious balete tree
 

Aside from the many eerie stories that have been associated with such trees, what’s strange about Siquijor’s balete is that a spring originates from its base, flowing straight into the manmade pool.

The cold spring flowing from the base of the balete tree
 

Visitors with the luxury of time swim in this cold spring just in front of the tree.

The caretaker points at the spot where the spring water comes from as Byaheros Jay and Rushty attentively listen.
 

You can just dip your feet into the cold spring if you’re packed with your itinerary.

Biyahero Jay’s wife, Ms. Pamela Jalandoni, dipping her feet
 

Of course, I tried it, too. The water’s so cold, and little fishes were trying to nibble at my toes.

Choose Philippines Visayas Editor Belle Piccio at Siquijor
 

Admission is free to this tourist spot. There’s a donation box, though, which you can keep happy. The funds are used for place’s maintenance.

See that cute unassuming little box that looks like a bird house? That’s the donation box
 

So, forget about the folk stories, even just for awhile. Just gaze at this tree’s hidden beauty, and that’s the entire story right there.

The enchanting Balete tree of Lazi, Siquijor
 

How to Get There

Going to Siquijor, you need to book a flight from Manila going to Dumaguete. From Manila, you can fly to Dumaguete (estimated cost of Php4,000++, round trip, one hour and 15 minutes).

Siquijor is just a short ferry ride from Dumaguete city.

Delta Fast Ferries is the main ferry that operates the Dumaguete-Siquijor route (estimated cost of Php200++, one-way, 45 minutes). You can also get Oceanjet Ferry (Php350++, one-way, 45 minutes) or Weesam Express.

Then from Siquijor, Siquijor port, you may take a tricycle ride (Php500) going to Lazi, Siquijor, or you may contact Siquijor Tourism Office at (035) 344-2088 for the tour (tour package rate: Php1,500).

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