A Dakit tree (a banyan tree species) is omnipresent in places with temperate climate including the Philippines. It is also commonly called ‘balete’ tree.
In Toledo City, Cebu Province, there is one famous dakit tree due to its mystical and intriguing stories surrounding it. It is living right close to the new City Hall building in Barangay Ilihan, Toledo City.
This famous tree is believed to started in existence in 1920 (which is 97 years old), or it could be a hundred years old already - who really knows?
The mystical stories started when some locals noticed a passenger bus that pulled over but saw no one getting off. Others rumored that they saw lights at night suddenly illuminating the tree and found no source of the lights.
Some neighbors mentioned seeing animals (such as horses, dogs, rabbits, pigs, among others) coming out from the tree and just suddenly vanished from their sight. It really sounds like a fairy tale which must be told vividly to enjoy it fully.
Moreover, here comes the fairy tale between a man and a woman…
A young man fell in love with a beautiful young lady. To make the long story short, the two became intimate lovers and spent most of their time around the Dakit Tree. The young man all this time did not know where the woman lives and after insisting on taking her home for many times, she finally agreed. They got up and turned around the tree, and he was surprised that it was so close. The woman invited him in to enter into this beautiful and sparking house that looks like a palace. When it was time to leave he bade goodbye and walked outside. As he turned around to see the house, it was gone, and he realized he was looking at the tree. It was told that the beautiful woman was a nymph.
Now, aside from the happy and fascinating fairy tales told surrounding the Dakit Tree, you can also hear sad and scary stories about it. Here are some of them…
Recently, stories told around that a passenger bus suffered a deadly accident that cost the lives of some of its passengers. When the driver who survived the accident gave a recollection of the event said that when they were nearing the place (where the Dakit Tree is standing), he saw a wide open highway and tried to drive through when in fact it was the usual narrow and curvy road.
The second story was about a great lumber jack in the area. He tried to cut down the gigantic tree starting with the branches. However, the man died mysteriously as he was very healthy and strong and was not heard of being sick all his life. Rumors have it that he died of an unknown sickness and people in the area thought it was because he tried to cut down the old Dakit Tree.
Now, you do not even think of believing such stories. However, you have heard, (like I was when I was little, and I confessed they are truly fascinating and sometimes scary for a small child hearing such stories from adults) you can hear similar fantasy or crazy stories.
In fact, the Philippines is very rich in fairy tales and legends. Filipinos love stories especially those handed down from one generation to the next. Before the Western culture influenced the local culture, children learn stories about spirits, gods, and their ancestors that keep families to live together living with the stories giving them their family identity. Ancient Filipino families look at themselves as a whole, and each one plays an important role and not individualistic compared to the newly introduced Western thinking that emphasizes one’s individuality. We know that both cultures have both positive and negatives aspects that can be debated endlessly.
All right, to learn about a dakit tree, which is commonly known as ‘banyan tree,' let me introduce briefly some of its descriptions below.
The name ‘banya,' in the Gujarati language, means “grocer or merchant, not “tree” (Wikipedia).
It was the Portuguese who picked up the word and refer it to Hindu merchants. So the name originally comes from India and was being used to people who frequented the shade of the tree. The Indian traders who frequented the shades are called ‘banias.' The English writers began writing about merchants under this tree and eventually called the tree “banyan.”
A banyan is a fig that starts as an epiphyte ? meaning, it grows on another plant and eventually took over that plant. You would also see them living in cracks not only on trees but also in human-built structures.
Banyan trees have large leaves, glossy, green and elliptical. Like most trees, a banyan tree bears fruits, but the seeds are small and are usually dispersed by birds everywhere they go.
An old banyan tree features an impressive view ? it has aerial prop roots that grow into thick and truly tree-looking trunks which are totally different when it was younger. It is known that prop roots can grow over a wide area with its trunk connected directly or indirectly to its main trunk.
Because the roots and branches of a banyan are so complex, bonsai experts and lovers make banyan as their subject of tree art.
Many cultures in Asia and Pacific have varied thoughts and beliefs given to this tree. For example, Hinduism believes that the god Krishna lives in this tree, while Filipinos believe that fairies and other beings live in this tree ? both good and evil spirits or beings.
Therefore, stories about this tree abound not only in Toledo City, where the Dakit Tree is quite famous but also anywhere in the world where people of various traditions, cultures, beliefs, and experiences of banyan tree’s presence through what it provides to them.
I hope you find this page entertaining. However, of course, you can find the Dakit Tree in Toledo City and hope you will enjoy its beauty and as a tree that is part of the locals’ heritage.
Thank you for reading!