A Salute to the Benguet Pine Trees (Pinus kesiya) Michael A. Bengwayan
A Salute to the Benguet Pine Trees (Pinus kesiya)
Michael A. Bengwayan
Once again, as we face the coming of Christmas, the most memorable holiday in the Christian calendar, the image of pine trees comes vividly in our minds with alacrity. Pine trees are the most popular among all conifers, the most widespread, most varied and most valuable trees of their order. The biggest family of conifers goes by their name, the Pinaceae. basically because of the rare Alpha e-pinene chemical content that tree treasures which is an important hydro-carbon alkane and ingredient for pharmaceuticals and chemical necessities.
The actual genus Pinus, the pines proper, is limited to 100 or so species with certain clear and obvious characteristics, of which the easiest to see and remember is the relatively long evergreen needles (which easily is the one that lures us to cut them for Christmas trees) in tight bundles, each bundle (of from two to five needles, according to species) wrapped at its base in a papery sheath. The yearly growth of each shoot of a pine takes the form of a ‘candle’, which is a defiance of gravity. Pinus kesiya is endemic in the Cordillera region, a relative of the Khasya pines of the Khasya region in Burma.
Pine trees in the Cordillera region are the standard-bearers of the mountain skyline. But any young child who has a small young pine tree, if anything, has even more to enjoy: a vigorous plant at eye level, fantastically rich in its detail, its thick and sappy shoots bristling with bright new needles, embossed with male and female parts of splendidly original and suggestive design, inviting kids to dapple them with candies, paper angels, tinsels and the like.
The natural range of the pines is enormous. If anything they favour rugged conditions from the ecotome of Mount Pulag’s mossy montane forests, to the dipterocarp skyline of Balbalasang, Kalinga, and even the waterless and extremely exposed rocky crevices of Sagada to the clayey subsoils of La Union and a rocky domes high above where there seems to be no soil at all in Mount Santo Tomas. If pines have a headquarters in our era, it is in Benguet, whose tropical highlands they seem to relish. With their evolutionary tactics of interbreeding they keep botanists busier there than anywhere else in the province.
Benguet pines, ever proud and conquering, whether blanketed in lush cloaks of vibrant green or stripped naked with only their bare trunks remaining, can reveal their beauty throughout the warmest, wettest or rainiest seasons. Their knowledge of time, history and events is timeless and though science, technology and capitalism seem to have combined to end their reign, they will remain..longer…much longer than what even malls and other tree-cutters can imagine. The pine trees will be here to stay. The tree cutters won’t be.
So the next time you find yourself walking through pine stands, woods or forests, look up. Not many people embrace this view high above our limited ground floor. An awakening and soul-changing world is gifted by a simple tilt of the head as you see the sky through a beautifully complicated and tangled web of trees. That give life.