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The Most Beautiful Philippine Trees That Can Rival Japan's Cherry Blossoms

You don't need to go to Japan or Korea for your cherry blossom fix.
IMAGE Courtesy of Kakaj Mori / Instagram - peachay (@_peachay)
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In a few weeks' time, your social media feed will be pink with sakura or cherry blossoms from your friends' trips to Japan or Korea. Not everyone has the luxury of a spring break, but a quick glance at the trees in the Philippines will show you that you don't have to go far for some beautiful and Instagram-friendly trees. 

Popular Philippine trees that look most like the sakura are the Palawan cherry blossoms. There's even a park in Puerto Princesa dedicated to their stunning blush flowers. Though these Philippine trees are commonly mistaken as the Balayong (another cherry-blossom lookalike), they're actually a species of tabebuia and likewise bloom around April, which is more or less the same as Japan's sakura. Unlike cherry blossoms, however, they are closer in species to the acacia, narra, kamatsile, ipil, and tindalo. These trees. however, including the Balayong, aren't native to the Philippines. 

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The Philippines trees that we likely equate to cherry blossoms aren't native. However, there are many other beautiful trees that are native to the country. 

IMAGE: Jean Theresse Perez

For more local options, Facebook user Bob Nebrida uploaded a collage of the most beautiful trees in the Philippines and they're pretty good alternatives to a spring break. The best part is that they're tropical and proudly Filipino.

Some of the trees listed include Banaba, Mangkono, Narra, Donya Aurora, Salinggogon, Malabulak, Salimbobog, Balitbitan, Siar, and Bagawak. 

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Here are our picks for the most gorgeous trees in the Philippines that need a little bit of your love, too.

1| Narra Tree

In case you've forgotten your gradeschool social studies, the Narra is actually the national tree of the Philippines. It can grow up to 30 meters high and its short stems can spread into luxurious branches. Its beauty lies in its dainty yellow flowers, which bloom between February and May. The Narra is low-maintenance and sturdy, which makes it a favorite for construction and woodwork purposes. 

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Where to find Narra trees in the Philippines:

They can grow anywhere, but they're more common in the Bicol region. 

2| Banaba Tree

The Banaba tree is a favorite among landscape artists for its delicate pink-purple flowers, which have a similar vibe to cherry blossoms. Also known as the Giant Crape-Myrtle or Queen's Crape-Myrtle, these trees have several uses. Because of its strong and widespread roots, this Philippine tree been used to combat soil erosion; its leaves can help stabilize blood sugar; and its bark can help with stomach problems. 

Where to find Banaba trees in the Philippines:

These are easy to find in Luzon (Palawan, especially) and Mindanao. Even U.P. Diliman has some.

3| Siar Tree

IMAGE: Instagram - Maharlikhang Mandirigma (@mantra_derfiraga)
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This Philippine tree's yellow blossoms are absolutely stunning and they're especially vivid during the summer. The tree is also known as the Kalayaan tree because Emilio Aguinaldo planted one during the Malolos Convention. Underneath this particular Siar in Malolos is a monument of Gregorio del Pilar, Gen. Isidoro Torres, Don Pablo Tecson, Padre Mariano Sevilla, and Doña Basilia Tantoco.

Where to find Siar trees in the Philippines:

The historic tree is found in Malolos, but there's another one in U.P. (at the U.P. Washington Sycip Garden of Native Trees). Siar trees also grow in Subic and Olongapo. You can even find a few in Greenbelt.

4| Salingbobog Tree

The Salingbobog is one of the Philippine trees likened to cherry blossoms. The flowers are more white than pink, but look up close and you can see that lovely pink hue in the middle. They're also called balai-lamok, among many other names. It bears an edible fruit that's chock-full of vitamin C.

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Where to find Salingbobog trees in the Philippines:

U.P. also has some near the U.P. Lagoon.

5| Malabulak Tree

IMAGE: Courtesy of Kakaj Mori

We've just missed the Malabulak in its prime. Its red flowers are magnificent around February. It's often mistaken as the fire tree, but its flowers are much more compact. More importantly, the Malabulak is a proud native of the Philippines.

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Where to find Malabulak trees in the Philippines:

You'll see some of these around Quezon City. They're also common in Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Rizal, and Laguna.

6| Mangkono Tree

You might be hard pressed to find this tree. Its conservation status is endangered, so it's rare to see its stunning fire-red blooms, which resemble sea anemones. Nicknamed "bakal na kahoy," the Mangkono has a reputation for being the hardest wood in the Philippines. Even a diamond-point saw can take days to slice through a small trunk.

Where to find Mangkono trees in the Philippines: 

The few Mangkono trees left may be spotted at Caraga, Leyte, Samar, or Palawan. A few of these have also been spotted in Taal.

Some of the photos (Narra and Banaba) have been changed for accuracy.

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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Managing Editor, EsquireMag.ph
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
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