UPLB bids adieu to century-old Kapok tree

UPLB students, faculty, staff, and alumni paid their last respects to a Kapok tree, which had gained renown for creating a snow-like effect around the part of the campus where its soft white fluffs dispersed and carpeted the ground as its pods popped at the onset of summertime.

After a thorough evaluation by tree experts found that it was dying of disease, had high risk of failure, and was a public hazard, the Kapok tree was scheduled to be cut down to ensure safety in the area. 

The UPLB community, led by Chancellor Jose V. Camacho, Jr., held a program to celebrate the tree’s life and significance to the local university culture. The gathering was held at the CAS Physical Sciences Building parking lot on Oct. 25 or a day before the schedule for the tree to be felled. 

Chancellor Camacho, in his opening message, expressed the difficulty UPLB constituents have in parting with a great natural resource that has been embedded in UPLB’s cultural landscape for decades. 

“[The Kapok tree], as a centennial being, has borne witness to UPLB during the war, graduation ceremonies, freshman tours, and has been enmeshed in the lives of UPLB students, faculty, and staff during its life,” Chancellor Camacho recounted. 

Director Jerry R. Yapo of the Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts, unveiled three works of art created to commemorate the Kapok tree, namely: Remembering UPLB’s Kapok Tree by Antonio Jesus A. Quilloy, Paggunita at Pasasalamat kay Apo Kapok by Maria Karla Muriel Sta. Cruz, and Hanggang sa Muling Pagsibol by Camille Dailo-Encarnacion.

The presentation was followed by a series of musical, spoken word, and dance performances by Jam Quijano, William Don C. Criste; Prof. Ireneo L. Lit, Jr., Rommel Rolando G. Bailey, and Ava Maureen V. Ong, in homage to the Kapok tree and its life. 

The program ended with a short speech by Prof. Fernando O. Paras, Jr., vice chancellor for planning and development, who fondly recalled his memories of the Kapok in his youth and as a professional consultant with the Southeast Asian Regional Study and Research in Agriculture or SEARCA. 

Vice Chancellor Paras also invited the audience to reflect and quietly pay homage to the Kapok tree and appreciate the value that it provided the UPLB community for more than a century. (Kristel Hope T. Villafuerte)

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