I know I’m blogging this part of my Aurora travel adventure a bit late. The truth is I nearly forgot this was even part of our itinerary when we spent our time here last Holy Week! If I didn’t check out the photos in my old phone (which my mom is now using), I would have forgotten about this!
Actually, I’ve been raring to say that beyond being a surfing capital of the Philippines, Baler is also the best place to start when checking out for off-the beaten track type of adventure while in Aurora. You know, what they usually say, is that each time you travel, take time to tiptoe to the unknown and always make it a point to inquire about the story behind every facade, every nook and cranny of a building or place you visit. It’s one way of gaining practical knowledge ahead of the others while at the same time having the time of your life.
Now, I know it’s not even November yet, it’s just that I thought of blogging about Aurora’s Millennium tree right now—while it’s dark and rainy outside, hearing the patter of raindrops on the rooftop. When the pensive mood sets in at a time like this, my mind starts to go throwback mode and reminisce uncanny experiences. And so I guess this is the best time to talk about this tree that’s been one of my fave tourist spots in Aurora.
Well, there’ve been so many local tourists that day we arrived, it kinda took away that creepy vibe I was expecting to feel upon entering the vicinity. There was a lot of people already clambering up the thick branches of roots from the outside, plus a long queue of people waiting for their turn to pass inside the tree.
And my, it was mighty big! I just couldn’t believe something like this has been here for 600 years! I bet its far older than that. As the locals here say, this tree has been here for more than 600 years now, long before the Spaniards came and colonized the Philippines.
This tree now sits in a private property in Brgy. Quirino. Story has it that the owner of the land wanted to cut down this tree to convert the property for business. The family has decided to hire somebody to cut it down but shortly after deciding on it, one family member started to get sick; next was the operator of the bulldozer. So they decided to just leave the tree alone.
But way, way back, there were stories then that when the first of the Spanish friars that discovered Aurora, the tree had just one host. And when they started planning to cut down the tree, a strangler fig supposedly sprang up the next day and another host started mangling the other branches until it contorted the whole tree–killing the host tree. The tree rose higher and looked more formidable as it was before. The Spaniards had no recourse but to leave it alone, more so when local villagers warned them of a “kapre” (smoking giant) already living in the balete tree.
We challenged ourselves to get inside. Both my mom and I were claustrophobic but we conquered our fear of small cramped spaces to see it for ourselves. The others were already at it, so why not? My tall cousin and my aunt were already at it…
We were just so happy to see and experience for ourself Aurora’s Millennium tree, considering that this balete tree is the largest of its kind in Asia. Every Pinoy traveler should include this in their itinerary when going up north in Aurora. I’m glad I’ve ticked this one off my local bucket list. 😀