The Hardwoods of our Vanishing Forests

We lose a part of  paradise each time indiscriminate logging and slash and burn agriculture, take down what climate and soil have formed— majestic hardwood forests.There were about 50 kinds of timber trees in our remarkably rich forests noted John Foreman in 1906. Notable among them was the Molave or the Mulawin, the Queen of the Woods. Resistant to decay , seawards and termites, the Mulawin was almost everlasting.Posts, beams , and rafters of churches, conventos, and old mansions were made of Mulawin. Even frames of water-borne vessels were crafted from this yellow-hued wood.Tenacious Acle was a favourite for housebuilding for it didn’t burn easily. Acle was easy to polish, one had to be careful while sanding it, for it made one sneeze.The dark red variety of Ipil ( the other is ochre) was so hard it defied nails and termites. Lauan was used in planking the galleons because the wood could absorb small cannonball shots.Yakal yielded logs that were as long as 50 ft. Termites were no match against its yellow, finely textured body. It was one of theheaviest and hardest woods.Narra boasted of a wide color range from straw yellow to vermillion. Its closely packed fibers had a superb sheen. The wood was also slightly fragrant. The Narra, during summer would burst into sprays of sweet smelling flowers as it began to shed its old canopy and acquire a new one.The Kamagong was black with yellow streaks. Its close -grained wood made good furniture. The Dungon was red-purple and could bear very heavy weights. It was thus used for keels and roof support.


Corazon S. Alvina

Halupi:Essays on Philippine Culture    

Scroll to Top