Death of an ancient tree

Two years ago on Christmas Day – on December 25, 2005 at a little past 7PM to be more precise – we heard an eerie sound which seemed like an extended sfx of a runaway train or a huge truck crashing against steel and concrete – followed with a total blackout.

Then silence.

I was expecting screams to follow as I sprung to search for a flashlight, but there was none except for the steady rhythm of the light rain.

Minutes later we’d learn that the huge, ancient acacia near the Leyte Normal University – one of two remaining acacia trees in the area – had crashed down upon the home of Mana Flor’s across the street from our residence.

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Having learned a lesson earlier after a “contemporary” 100+ year-old acacia crashed down on a moving jeepney at the Rizal Elementary School at J. Romualdez street (which killed one passenger and injured several others), the then-city mayor Bejo Romualdez ordered the cutting down of almost all of these aging trees save for a few ones. At Leyte Normal, there were two which were spared – one along J. Luna and another at Independencia.

After more than a week of constant rain, the century-old tree could no longer bear the massive weight of its drenched leaves and branches which practically extended across the street. Moreover, the ground was likewise softened by the continuous rain it could no longer provide ample support for the tree’s root system. It simply fell on its side, in slow-mo, as if to say, “Enough, already!”

Fortunately, nobody was hurt in this incident. Except for some ruffled emotions and a house and a few small structures around it heavily damaged, life was back to normal a day later.

The huge acacia trees of the Leyte Normal University along Independencia and Juan Luna Streets have always been part of our growing-up years. I am sure many would miss its presence and the homely charm and warmth it provided to the environ when passing thru this particular area of Tacloban City.

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~ by gerryruiz on 26 December 2007.

5 Responses to “Death of an ancient tree”

  1. you know the last time i visited tacloban one of the places i really wanted to see was the rizal park w/ the acacia but how disappointed i was! they were century old acacias! i know how expensive it is to maintain them but think of the events that they (the acacias) have witnessed! didi ha france we try to preserve as much as possible this kind of century old trees!

  2. Hi Quelits! Thanks for your comment here and also those posted elsewhere in this photoblog!

    Indeed, it’s a shame they had to cut down those trees. But then some of them were actually rotten in the inside, their trunks already hallow and eaten away by termites, etc. Still, they could have done something about stopping the spread of whatever “disease” it was eating them up. Or trimmed them down & put up steel braces to support them.

  3. Hello Gerry!

    This is the first time I heard about the LNU acacia trees. All the time that I was nostalgically waxing about the trees of my childhood home, I thought that the acacias that are very much a part of my childhood ruminations had been gone a long time. (It’s been over two years since I last visited the hometown) I had already drafted a blog on those acacias – how their pink and white blossoms used to litter the streets, how we would play hide and seek using their huge trunks for ample cover and how their leaves would shelter us from the heat of a summer sun to play patintero, market day or sagudsud…. Oh well, all good things come to end just like childhood. To say that I am very sad over those acacia trees is an understatement….

    Thank you so much for the info, though belatedly.

    Gerry, I need help with something. This is one of my projects for 2008 – to get into writing some of our old Waray traditions that could give our children/grandchildren a picture of where we come from for the simple reason that it is where they also come from. It would be some sort of literary legacy…

    Do you recall the pastores de belen – those girls dressed in white with wide-brimmed buri hats trimmed in red ribbons who used to go cerolling singing waray nativity songs? Could you share with me their origins? I stopped seeing them when we moved from J. Luna St. to PHHC. This was in the early ’60s – perhaps the same time they disappeared from the Tacloban holiday scene.
    I shall be asking you similar stuff from time to time knowing that you are very much into the preservation of waray/taclobanon culture. I hope to do in writing what you do best in photography.

    Happy New Year and more blessings for you and the family in 2008.
    -Dingding

  4. Hi Dingding! I knew there would be reactions like what you just posted here. Yes, the acacias were part of our lives!

    I actually took pictures of the other acacia trees before they were cut down much earlier, before the incident I posted here. Alas, I cannot find them! Misplaced somewhere. Rest assured, once I find them I’ll post them here pronto. Btw, I took ‘before’ and ‘after’ pix!

    That’s a fine project you’re planning. In fact I wanted to do a photo documentation of the games we used to play when we were kids – sato, latik-latik, get-in, tumbang lata, syomoy, etc. Never got around to actually doing it, but I’m not giving up on it yet.

    I cannot, unfortunately, help you on the pastores de belen thing. I am clueless on this. Maybe Mana Neri would know.🙂 Sure, I’m much willing to contribute whenever I can and whatever little knowledge I know of.

    Thanks for writing in!

  5. Hoy! Ikaw gud… diri mo pinapalagpas na Neri and me are nearer each other’s age. Sige ka – waray ka na pag-asa maging ‘big brother’!(joke,joke…)
    This is only an observation but it seems that Mana Neri cannot take her kid brother seriously…(yet) Oh well, we all have this big sister syndrome – both the positive and negative aspects of it.
    [Neri, if you’re reading this, you can refute or agree, I’ll say no more]

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