Knock on teak wood

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By Betsy Gazo


Saturday, May 17, 2014

TEAK wood is one of the best trees we can have in our forests. It is tall, reaching to heights of 100 to 150 feet, with a 3- to 8-foot diameter.

Large oval deciduous leaves give a wide spread of shade. Flowers come in terminal clusters which can be bluish or white. The fruits are the size of cherries and have oily seeds. Oil in the wood is what makes teak a desirable material for decking expensive boats, and lining the interiors of yachts.

In a certain era, fine residences, club rooms and bank buildings always had teak wood as interior finishes. (Now, why do I think of Andrew Carnegie and pin-stripe suited bank managers scowling from across their massive desks?)


Teak (Tectona grandis) furniture is highly prized around the world. The high oil content and tight grain is ideal for outdoor use hence, its use in decking. It is resistant to decay and insects. It is hard, heavy and strong.

When I think of teak, I also think of my Mills-and-Boon reading days when the heroine’s heart beats the faster for a tall arrogant stranger with skin the color of teak. So, what is the color of teak wood? It’s a yellowish brown. Kinda like a lot of us.

The teak tree must have captivated the eyes of the province’s urban planners. When the Bacolod City Public Plaza and the Old Capitol Building were being constructed in 1927, teak trees were part of the list of tree species to be planted in both sites. The gorgeous beauties ring the edge of the plaza and provide shade within. Most huge ones are girded with circular benches so that the early citizens can take a respite under their shade.

The plaza today has about 14 teak trees. The ones inside the square have grown to their full desirable sizes while the ones on the fringes of Gatuslao and Gonzaga Streets have stunted growth probably from abuse of passersby and fumes from cars.

The Capitolyo has half a dozen teaks flanking the north and south wings – three to each wing. These stately trees seem so ladylike; like the kind of women who wear gloves and hats, and have gracious manners whatever the temperature; like hostesses who always have something nice to say to everyone and anyone. I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a teak. So, can we call a tree doctor to check on our remaining teak trees?

The Philippines is one of the Southeast Asian countries that have teak in its forests. The genus Tectona has three species, i.e., T. grandis, T. hamiltoniana (found in Myanmar), and T. philipinensis.

Teak has been utilized in India for over a thousand years and can also be found in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, which grows highly-prized teak trees, Central and South America, and Africa.

Because Indonesia’s teak is of superior quality, the Indonesian government has stepped in to preserve teak trees and reforest every year to replace cut trees. This ensures a continuous supply of teak wood for export and employment for their furniture makers in the island of Java. Teak greatly contributes to the economy of Indonesia.

Trees are cut only after 10 years although the older the tree, the better the quality of timber. Can you wait for 40 years? If you can, then, why not grow teak? Propagation is done with seeds.

The more trees we plant, the better for the illegal loggers and charcoal makers who want to line their pockets with proceeds from our natural resources. Knock on teak wood.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 17, 2014.


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