KATIPUNAN TREE. Left photo shows the ancient Katipunan tree in Novaliches, Quezon City, which underwent a scientific system of rehabilitation and treatment in June 2014. The rehabilitation was done by a team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Science Research Specialists and Development Bureau (SRSDB). In lower right photo, SRSDB team leader Marcelina V. Pacho and retired MMC principal Natividad M. Villano are seen looking at the portion of the tree callous where the decayed portions are taken out as part of the rehabilitation process. (PNA file photos of Leilani S. Junio)

MANILA -- There is a need to make the people of Novaliches, especially the youth, fully aware of the historical role played by their former town in the struggle for Philippine independence from Spain in the second half of the 1890s.

Rep. Alfred D. Vargas of Quezon City's 5th District (Novaliches area) made this observation after he was told about the history of the century-old "Katipunan Tree" at the campus of the 72-year-old Metro Manila College (MMC) in Barangay Kaligayahan, Novaliches, Quezon City.

MMC was the former Novaliches Academy (NA), the pioneer secondary educational institution established in 1947 in the former Novaliches town, now divided between Quezon City and Caloocan City.

The so-called "Katipunan Tree" is actually an ancient duhat (java plum) tree which was renamed as such in April 1980 to perpetuate the memory of the revolutionary society "Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan" (Highest and Most Venerable Society of the Sons of the Country) or KKK.

With Gat Andres Bonifacio at its helm, the KKK started the revolution against the tyrannous Spanish rule in the Philippines on Aug. 23, 1896.

During a recent meeting at the MMC Guest House, Vargas was briefed on how the old tree got its name "Katipunan" by Mrs. Natividad Miranda Villano, former MMC principal and now member of the Board of Trustees of the "Gawad Metronian Educational Foundation Inc. (GMEFI) of the same college.

Villano said the ancient duhat tree, estimated to be more than 180 years old at present, was renamed “Katipunan Tree”on April 26, 1980 by then National Historical Institute (now the National Historical Commission of the Philippines), the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (now Department of Education or DepEd), the Tree Preservation Foundation of the Philippines Inc. (TPFPI), and the MMC led by Dr. Mamerto S. Miranda, founder of the college.

Among the others present in the meeting were Dr. Eveleyne M. Dominguez, president of GMEFI; Maria Aurora M. Villafuerte, secretary; Billy Miranda and Nante Mendoza Serrano, president, and vice president, respectively, of the Novaliches People's Alliance-Movement (NPAM); and former Barangay Novaliches Proper Kagawad Yolly Santiago Mendoza.

After the meeting, Vargas and his companions proceeded to the Katipunan Tree site and inspected its marker. According to the marker, Bonifacio and his men were often seen holding meetings under the shade of the tree.

On several occasions, the revolutionary heroine Melchora Aquino, better known as "Tandang Sora," was also there, nursing and feeding the wounded and sick Katipuneros.

Vargas noted that the ancient tree is indeed a pride of Novaliches, and to memorialize its history, in particular, and Novaliches, in general, he would initiate the production and publication of a coffee table book which would feature both old and modern photographs about Novaliches.

In connection with this, the lawmaker is requesting Novaliches residents, particularly the so-called native ones, to provide his office with old pictures about Novaliches for possible inclusion in the coffee table book.

Despite its old age, the duhat tree continues to bear fruits, but these are becoming smaller every year and not as succulent or juicy as they were before.

Its shade and height also have been reduced as detached old branches and twigs have not been replaced with new ones.

The duhat tree is located about two kilometers away from the La Mesa Dam and the old Barrio Pasong Putik in Novaliches, where Tandang Sora was captured by the Spanish civil guards before her incarceration and eventual exile to the Marianas Islands in 1896.

To prolong its life, the MMC officials requested the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in June 2014 to conduct rehabilitation, treatment and removal of the decayed portion inside the callous of the ancient tree. (PNA)