Mangkono: RP’s hardest wood
() - April 4, 2004 - 12:00am
What is the hardest wood in the Philippines?

Asked this question, some instantaneously answer kamagong. Others volunteer molave or other forest tree species.

All are wrong.

The answer: mangkono (ever heard of it?)

Scientifically named Xanthostemon verdugonianus (Naves.), mangkono is regarded as "bakal na kahoy ng Pilipinas".

Consider: Cutting a mangkono tree trunk with a diameter of 70 centimeters with a saw usually takes two to four days!

"Diamond-point saws have been used exclusively but much water is needed to counter overheating of sawblade on account of the hardness of the wood," said the Los Baños-based Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB).

Records also have it that when the Roman Catholic church in Babatngon, Leyte, was being remodelled 87 years after its construction, the buried portion of mangkono posts dug up were still very tough.

Aside from post, among the uses of mangkono wood are bearing or stern bushing of steamship propeller shaft, poles and piles for wharves and bridges, rollers, sawguide blocks, tool handles, and bowling balls.

Rare and sparsely distributed, the species can be seen mostly in the so-called "mangkono triangle" formed by the Dinagat Island in Surigao mainland, Homonhon Island in Samar, and a very small area in Babatngon.

Its rarity can be attributed to its poor regenerating capacity plus its heavy exploitation. The species desperately needs artificial regeneration to save it from extinction.

Along this line, ERDB headed by Director Celso Diaz has been studying, among other things, the appropriate germinating medium for its seeds as an initial step in perpetuating the species.

Lately, too, ERDB turned out a publication on mangkono.

A decade ago, the "Gawad Mangkono" was launched as "a fitting tribute to men and women foresters who have proved themselves outstanding through hard work, sincerity, concern for the people, and professionalism that enhance the reputation of the UP Los Baños College of Forestry as a leading forestry school not only in the country but also in Southeast Asia." – Rudy A. Fernandez

BABATNGON COLLEGE OF FORESTRY DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES-ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT BUREAU DINAGAT ISLAND DIRECTOR CELSO DIAZ GAWAD MANGKONO HOMONHON ISLAND LOS BA MANGKONO ROMAN CATHOLIC
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