One of the most spectacular tree finds in the Philippines is Bombax ceiba. It is closely related to kapok or Ceiba pentandrum, that is why it is called malabulak. This tree is disputed as native but is very much visible in beach and coastal areas of the Philippines. I usually hear of tales, in Bohol, of a huge flame red coastal tree and I suspect that what they refer to is this.
Bombax ceiba flowers towards the middle of February. It usually loses its leaves during the cold months and February is greeted with appearance of numerous large scarlet flowers. This is a sight to behold as the tree is fully red (because it is only in flower and devoid of leaves).
The very first time I saw malabulak was about 4 years ago. I passed by Sikatuna Village where V. Luna and Maginhawa streets meet and was surprised to find a very large Bombax tree in flower. I immediately got off the taxi (i was enroute to Cubao that time from UP) just to take pics of my amazing find. And from then on the Sikatuna Bombax became my yearly pilgrimage to look at.
This year I forgot to visit my landmark malabulak. I was out of town and became busy with work backlog. But when i finally remembered about the Bombax, Prof Ed Gomez gave me bad news about it. Apparently the owners of the land it was growing felt it had no more importance and cut it down. The last thing Prof. Gomez saw was the cut trunk.
I was saddened to learn my landmark tree is gone. One tree less to look forward to next year. I have to find another Bombax tree to take pics of or maybe i should try to plant one of my own so I have a flowering tree to expect every February without worrying it would be cut down the next year...