Baguio gives giant Christmas tree a rest | Inquirer News

Baguio gives giant Christmas tree a rest

/ 09:02 PM November 18, 2012

THIS NORFOLK pine tree, which towers over downtown Baguio, had always been used as the summer capital’s natural Christmas tree. EV ESPIRITU/ INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

BAGUIO CITY—The giant Norfolk pine tree at the heart of the central business district here, which always served as Baguio’s genuine Christmas tree, is getting a rest this yuletide season.

The city government had decided to build another Christmas tree at the top of lower Session Road, using indigenous materials, to allow the 54-year-old pine tree at the bottom of the road time to heal.

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The Norfolk island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is not grown in Baguio, a community embraced by pine trees, and its presence at the major cross section of the downtown area has been credited to former Mayor Antonio Tabora Sr.

Its widely spaced branches and symmetrical, triangular outline have made it a natural choice for the city’s Christmas tree.

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But pollution from daily traffic and the weight of the décor that bound its branches during the last part of each year had taken their toll on the tree.

To protect the tree, one of Tabora’s children took over the Christmas tree project a few years ago and had encircled the tree with a  skeletal frame where the décor was hung. But people criticized the Christmas frame for being visibly crooked.

This week, from Thursday night to Friday dawn, members of the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) and local firefighters scrubbed and washed off the polluted grime off the tree’s massive trunk. The firemen also hosed down the tree.

PMSEA president Louie Sarmiento said his group had taken charge of rehabilitating and nursing the Norfolk pine tree. He said PMSEA members would also take out the nails and wires abandoned on the trunk of the tree that had served as Christmas’ most endearing icon here for decades.

Symbol

He said the Norfolk pine tree had become a symbol of the city and its sustainable development.

The city’s new Christmas tree will stand at the main circle affixed with a rock sculpture representing Baguio’s centennial legacy. Work crews will erect the tree in time for the traditional lighting ceremony here on

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Dec. 1.

Because of an austerity program, the city government will light up major Baguio streets using décor it recycled from previous yuletide celebrations. Frank Cimatu with a report from Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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