FEATURE: Two Trees, Minus One

[Text and photos by Ron G. Neri]


The view on top shows why Malaybalay is called the city in the forest.

The view on top shows why Malaybalay is called the city in the forest.


IT WAS ONE SATURDAY AFTERNOON last month when my friends—Kidlat, Orville, John Murz, Martin, Eboy—and I decided to visit the city’s popular tambayan “Two Trees.”

Located at the city’s remote Sitio Tigbawan in the Can-ayan village, Two Trees is the name of the hill with two trees standing visible from the city proper. It had been a long time since I got the chance to return there so the six of us sought for an adventure once again.

We packed our things as well as foods, water and energy drinks to give us strength for the trail. We started at the Kaamulan grounds, a path less popular than another route at the Gawad Kalinga Village in Barangay 9. The former is a longer and more challenging route while the latter is shorter and very steep.

The Kaamulan trail is more challenging as there was no clear path and we have to take many twists and turns amid tall grasses. We planned to have our back trail to the GK Village though.

As we walked, each of us looked for a stick to serve as support. The pine trees swayed along our way. We heard the chirping of birds, the cracking sounds of branches and the buzzing of insects. We felt the coldness of the place and enjoyed the fresh air and the greenery. It was an experience one can never find elsewhere in the city.

But as we walked the path to Tigbawan, we saw the devastation wrought by super-typhoon Pablo on December last year. Plenty of trees were knocked down, giant bushes covered our path and most of the tracks were muddy and slippery.

We also got bruises from passing through sharp grasses. Our shoes were covered with mud as the rain started to fall. Martin even slipped on the way, but Kidlat who is a member of the mountaineering group EcoVenture said, “Mao ning challenge sa atong trail” (This is what makes our trail challenging).

We saw plants we can’t find in our own backyards. We also saw unfamiliar organisms hiding in the leaves of plants and small trees. The most annoying challenge, though, were swarms of mosquitoes tailing us on our little adventure.

Tigbawan rice fields as seen at the top.

Tigbawan rice fields as seen at the top.

After half an hour of trekking, we reached the backside of the hills and saw a farmland. The farmers had cultivated the forest and planted vegetables such as squash, green and red bell-pepper, cabbages, and other root crops. They also cut trees down and built roads for an easier access to the markets.

What I later saw disappointed me.

After an hour and forty-five minutes, we finally reached the famous “Two Trees.” But the sight broke my heart into pieces.

The last time I went there, the area was grassy, and the surroundings admirably clean. But what I saw were garbage, empty and broken bottles, and cigarette butts littered everywhere. It seemed that people no longer kept the area clean.

We looked for a place to settle down after the long trek. To my surprise, I noticed  that the top had only one tree standing. Thoughts that we got to the wrong place hit my mind until Kidlat said typhoon Pablo had damaged the other tree.

Last year’s Typhoon Pablo had wrecked one of the two trees.

Despite  the undesirable situation in the Two Trees, we still felt happiness and relaxation. From our vantage point, we saw the whole city of Malaybalay. And at the back, we saw the Tigbawan rice fields.

I also felt the emotions of the forest. I felt the two trees had symbolized human and nature. Sometimes, nature is destroyed because of the humans’ need for survival. Now that there is just one tree left, what could this mean?

My friends and I resolved to take care of our place. Two Trees should have hundreds or thousands of trees, not just a lonely tree on top of the hill.


The writer's friends: (from left) Orville, Martin, Eboy, Kidlat and John Murz.

The writer’s friends: (from left) Orville, Martin, Eboy, Kidlat and John Murz.


(Ron G. Neri is presently studying Development Communication at the Bukidnon State University. He also works as photojournalist for Bukidnon News.)

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