Roughly one year ago, I noticed that a relatively large molave tree on a neighbor’s lot in Cebu seemed to have lost all its leaves. This tends to happen once a year, it sheds, but the leaves return quite robustly a few months later. This time around, the leaves never returned and it seems the tree died of natural causes. After several months, brittle branches were starting to break off the ends of the tree, and we started to worry that it might topple over in a storm, damaging our wall and terrace area. So we sent someone to look up the owners (who don’t live on the deserted lot) and ask them to please cut down the tree, and if they didn’t want to do that, I would “buy” the tree. To make a long story short, I agreed to their demand that we pay PHP3,000 for the tree (plus two kilos of lechon) and I would have to pay for the guys who would cut and clear the tree — but all the wood would be ours.
We arranged for our “suki” tree trimmers to come around, and they agreed to cut the tree for PHP2,500, so the minimum amount of money I had to pay for the tree was PHP5,500 + 2 kilos of lechon. If they cut it down and it was hollowed out by termites, I would have done the neighbor a favor, but I would be out PHP5,500 and get no wood in exchange.
Once they cut the main trunk of what appears to be a nearly 100 year old molave tree, a very diseased and hollowed out center became apparent. Bad news it seems, I may have lost my molave speculative bet…
…but further cuts revealed that not all was lost, and there were significant pieces of tree trunk left. Now I had to negotiate with the chainsaw experts to cut me smaller pieces and had to pay by the board foot.
The tree trunk was cut into smaller pieces, say 4-5 feet long, and then again into 2-4 inch thick boards. Some smaller trunks were left whole, perhaps for a carving or two by a cousin who is a sculptor.
I was getting more and more excited as I noticed large pieces of solid tree trunk, but there were potential bugs, holes, soft spots in parts of the trunk… it was really like gambling on the unknown, a bit of storage room wars (that silly television show where they bid of abandoned storage containers blind).
As cut pieces started to make it to our side of the wall, I was feeling like we hit a mini-jackpot…
…but I have to admit, the guys carrying the wickedly heavy pieces were doing all the work…
…and despite the disappointment that several pieces had this spongy damaged part that crumbles like chalk…
…the yard started to fill up with piece after piece after piece of reasonable potential molave wood.
We got two half trunk pieces like the one above, disarmingly small, or so we thought, but nearly 60-70 kilos in weight!
Many pieces were not ideal…
…but we managed to collect and choose four piles of wood stacked this high. I looked up on the internet how best to stack fresh wood so it would naturally dry out.
Potential serving boards, trays, bench tops, etc. — whatever your imagination and carver/carpenter can manage.
I had several circular chopping board pieces cut as well, to serve as trivets, or to display items in some of our stores.
This enormous solid piece, at nearly 4-5 inches thick, may make a perfect bench, and it took 5 people to move it around. For the potential price of this piece alone, my bet had paid off.
Since the chainsaw guys were around, I also had them cut up some pieces of fallen acacia wood from the recent Typhoon Yolanda.
Doesn’t this piece bare an incredible resemblance to Sid, the sloth, in the movie “Ice Age”?
Moral of the story, don’t let those fabulous hardwood trees go to waste. If you spot one in your neighborhood that has died (and I REITERATE DIED), make sure you try and get the wood!