The residents of Jimenez in Misamis Occidental, holds with both fear and reverence an enchanted tree called ‘Camel.’ It was named as such because it supposedly changes colors and bears different fruits depending on the season, just like the way a chameleon would adapt to its immediate environment.
It is located at Taraka and across it is Sinara with the clear and cool Palilan River separating the two barangays.
I have been to this very spot many years back when I accompanied my father during one of his field works. He was then inspecting an irrigation project somewhere upstream.
I was only able to visit this same location with my cousins almost a decade or so after. I managed to convince some of them to accompany me that morning. This, after hearing chilling stories surrounding the Camel the night before.
They said that various packages were delivered right in front of the towering Camel. I imagine that the delivery men probably scratched their heads when they found out that the address is just a tall tree in between a rice field and gushing river.
The goods were not just ordinary parcels – furniture, livestock and even cars were driven there and sometimes in the dead of the night. This led many to believe that the Camel tree is in fact ‘taw-an‘ or that there are otherworldly beings who live there.
When we were already near the Taraka hanging bridge, I asked Jacob, who was driving the motorbike, if the tree that I could make out from afar was already the Camel. He politely asked me not to point my finger at it and whispered, that it was in fact Jimenez’ famous tree.
We alighted by a shade and walked towards the Camel. My cousins then uttered ‘tabi apo‘ to ask for permission lest we encounter something untoward on our return. Because aside from its mysterious packages, the Camel tree has also been blamed for the various unexplained drowning accidents in these parts. This is the reason why the residents do not wade or wash their clothes too close to it.
I then requested to have a photograph with the Camel tree behind me before we left. I gather that this was something that even the locals would dare not do. When we reviewed our takes, thankfully, no one else was standing beside me.
I could only wonder as to what happened to the high-valued goods afterwards. Were they returned to the seller? And who bought them in the first place? I have no answers to these questions as we drove back to my lola’s place.
From the looks of it, the mysteries around Jimenez’ enchanted Camel tree will indeed remain for a long, long time.