The Quest: Kandong Tree

ASIDE from sociological researches, UNP Candon attempts to unravel some historical concerns, hence the researchers engage in this kind of investigation.

Many towns of Ilocos Sur could trace their origins to some beliefs or folklores which maybe true or otherwise. For the Heritage City of Vigan, one cannot detach the word bigaa from its history. Likewise for Candon, where the enormous Kandong tree in ancient time flourished.

Now, we lend some spaces to the gist of this research, one of the highlights of the UNP Candon’s search for more truth and knowledge.

Hereunder, I wish to acknowledge our very hardworking researchers: Dr. Andres T. Malinnag, Jr., Dr. Isabel A. Astrero, Prof. Rico G. Gagto and our driver, Mr. Rolando Rolluda.

Take a dip and savor what our team of researchers found out.



Candon city is named after a fabled Kandong tree, so the legend says but most residents, if not all, can not identify what that tree is. Thus, there is a mystery about it.

This study used the historical method of research employing unscheduled and unstructured interviews. The quest for the fabled Kandong tree started for reason stated below:

The Kandong tree, which is a city emblem, is envisioned to be planted in Candon City if found and affirmed to have the capability to live in a place like ours in the Ilocos region. Finally, this research is a small contribution that the academe particularly the University of Northern Philippines Candon could offer to the City’s Tourism and Cultural Council.


A flash in the sky started everything about the quest for the Kandong tree. Puzzled if there is really a real tree known as such, Jaime Raras, a faculty-researcher of  UNP Candon made some inquiries to Mr. Rico Gagto, his colleague. The conversation was all about the fabled Kandong tree.

Since Mr. Rico Gagto has a brother-forester employed at DENR Ilocos Norte several years back, and having asked him similar question raised earlier, the reply was an optimistic one. He confirmed that there is such a specie found somewhere in Vintar, Ilocos Norte. His brother, Angelito asked, as narrated, an old man from that place about the local name of that tree that looks somewhat captivating. He knew mansanita, but it was not. And the small red fruits are luring birds to perch on its branch. There, he was informed that the local name of that tree is Kandong. This discovery, which he kept in his mind was a joy in itself. Now, Mr. Angelito Gagto knows the tree (but to himself alone)  that Candon got its name.

With the affirmative response of Mr. Rico Gagto, and the belief that this is a legacy research, Mr. Raras informed his dean, Dr. Isabel A. Astrero about the plan: The quest of the Kandong Tree. Dr. Astrero, herself interested to seek the truth behind all the literatures wish to say, and the myth that every resident of Candon City is embracing, permitted a team to undertake a research. She opined that the result of this study would draw a line between a reality and a legend. She authorized Dr. Andres Malinnag, Mr. Jaime Raras and Mr. Rico G. Gagto to travel and seek the truth behind this proposal. Dr. Andres T. Malinnag Jr, the research Coordinator of UNP Candon readied everything for this quest: communication letters, tour guide, provisions and contingency measures.

Two cities of Ilocos Sur derived their names from two species – a plant and a tree. Their echoes, as symbols of roots and culture reverberated far and yonder horizons.

Vigan City has treasured its etymology – and has preserved the species, Bigaa, a native root crop flourishingly living along the banks of the Mestizo River and even ensuring that each museum should have a sample specimen for tourist and excursionist to see. Its seal even contained the logo.

On the other hand, Candon City fails to see the truth behind this historical and cultural pursuit. It does the contrary, it seems, due to the obscurity of the memory of the folks. Decade after decade, the Kandong tree remained elusive to the dream of every Candonian. But not on the pages of printed books and magazines, classically written by Liwayway editor-in-chief Reynaldo A. Duque and the creative genius of Jose P. Acance in his tome, Candon: Idi ken Ita, among other luminary-writers. Numerous literatures and citations had been made and even the Centennial Souvenir Program/Book published no less than the city government acknowledged the historical contribution of the tree. There was they claimed a tree of a gargantuan standing settled at the middle of the settlement, now they believed the place where the San Juan de Sahagun Church stands. And the pictures of that species drawn by imaginative minds.

But sad to say, this is just a legend that needs substance and research that will dispel all doubts and hypocrisy. A research to search for the truth and make whatever findings a real part of the history of Candon, also a part and parcel of the Philippine Revolution’s Cry of Independence.

        (To be continued)