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The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
March, 1998 Vol. 1 No.3


Nong Denciong
Bakauan Guardian of Banacon

By Alix Yao






Even in his deathbed, Nong Denciong, the old man of Banacon, Getafe, Bohol who popularized the concept of mangrove plantations, was thinking mangroves and the memorabilia he earned from his exemplary effort in pioneering the rehabilitation of mangroves. His last request to his eldest daughter was to take good care of his memorabilia. Days before he calmly passed away, he ordered walking sticks made out of mangrove wood and used these as he slowly moved about, as though holding his last grip on the trees he loved so much.

Nong Denciong, whose real name is Eugenio Paden, established in 1964 the first mangrove plantation in Banacon, a tiny island north of Jetafe in Bohol. He planted a small area along the coastline to a mangrove species called bakauan bato (Rhizophora stylosa), which is easier to grow than the then dominant species pagatpat (Sonneratia alba) and api-api (Avicennia officinales). In 10 years, this plantation showed such promising growth that Nong Denciong’s neighbors soon started their own plantations. The plantations grew and expanded and, in another 10 years, the outside world came to know about Banacon’s bakauan plantation, by then covering 100 hectares and said to be the largest man-made mangrove in the whole of Central Visayas, if not the whole country. A decade later the plantations had tripled in size, breaking in no uncertain terms a long-held myth that bakauan could not thrive in sandy soil, and proving that large bakauan plantations do not require big capital or sophisticated technology to establish.

Nong Denciong began earning much deserved recognition as the bakauan plantation pioneer. In 1989, he received the Likas Yaman award, a special citation given by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for outstanding work in environmental management. In 1991, he was awarded by the King of Thailand the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) World Food Day "Best Farmer" medal. And just before his death, he was given a Certificate of Appreciation by the National Academy of Science and Technology for his outstanding work in mangrove rehabilitation.

The old man is gone but the bakauans he planted live on: Banacon today has a lush bakauan forest that serves as windbreak to Banacon, protecting its 1,000 residents from monsoon winds and providing them with a replenishable supply of wood for housing and other household purposes. A few years ago, the Forest Research Institute (FORI), hoping to provide the community with a wider variety of housing materials, tried to introduce other species in the area, including tangal (Ceriops tagal), nipa (Nypa fruticans), tabyao (Xylocarpus mekongensis), pototan (Bruguiera sexanguela), Acacia auriculiformis and bamboo. Of these, only tabyao did well, and even this started to grow only after 11 years, contributing even more to the ever-growing legend of Nong Denciong and his hardy bakauans.

Bakauan Bato Up Close
To the untrained eye, all bakauans look alike, but experts can easily point out the bakauan bato’s distinguishing characteristics: curling leaves (leaf margin underside) that turn bright yellow just before falling off. As its common name implies, this species thrives well in sandy and rocky areas. It used to be mistakenly identified as bakauan babae (R. mucronata) in Central Visayas because, like the bakauan babae, it has numerous flowers growing out of a single stalk.


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