Saturday, April 23, 2011

Save the Culion Pitogo!

Posters on the left and below are courtesy with permission from Mr. John Lisboa to repost here.

Last March 20, 2011, I discovered two websites highlighting the need to protect and conserve the identity of Culion Island, Palawan. One of which is entitled,
Culion_Palawan_Online ( and SAVE CYCAS WADEI 'Culion Pitogo' (

Perhaps not known to many Filipino's the genus Cycas is a palm-like plant "often considered a living fossil" according to Wikipedia and among ten species found in the Philippines, nine of which are endemic to our country. One particular species distinct only to Culion Island is known as the Culion Pitogo or scientifically named as Cycas wadei.

The websites initially mentioned has certainly become an eye opener for me as to the status of the Culion pitogo in its native habitat. Being a species that is isolated in specific areas of the island only heightens the fact that the more we should protect it as plant populations can easily be decimated by poachers and illegal traders.

I urge everybody to please check out the links enumerated. Please register and become one in helping our "Culionaire" kababayans in any way we can to protect the endangered Culion pitogo. Read and become aware of the issues that Culion faces.

Note: In the season of Lent some Catholic Filipino's traditionally use the fronds of an exotic species of Cycas, which is Cycas revoluta otherwise known as Oliva. Most of us are not aware, but this particular species which has grown popular demand among landscapers and gardens in the metro originate from Japan..... But why do we Filipino's need a plant such as the Oliva when we have 10 species of pitogo to choose from?

On second thought, those who would want to acquire plants of this genus should take a back seat and read the following links:

- DENR Administrative Order No. 2010-16 (p.1-7 and p.22 of 46)

In addition to this information, would you believe that according to the link ( of page 315, it mentions that, "People who prepare the seeds are subject to a regular direct response to the toxin. The water-soluble toxin is highly carcinogenic and is absorbed through the skin. The toxin consists of several neurotoxins some of which only exists in cycads."


Bom said...

Can I repost on my blog? I've already posted links to your blog and FB on another forum.

Andrea said...

The one called oliva in our place in Batangas, and also used as 'Palaspas' is not the C. revoluta but the one with longer leaves, am not sure if it is C. circinallis. However, i am not familiar with C.wadei, can you please post the photo here. Most people call any variety of cycas as pitogo. thanks.

P.S. If you need nuts or seedlings we have a lot in Batangas. My sister actually try to kill most of them because the litters grow anywhere in the property.

Rico said...

Bom, you may do so. Thank you for taking an interest on this blog post.

Andrea, I am not sure what species of pitogo you have in your area in Batangas.... You are correct in stating that the genus Cycas is generally known and called by Filipino's as pitogo.

I do not have any photos of a Cycas Wadei, nor a specimen of this species. But since you requested, I will try to ask the permission from one of the moderator of the link mentioned.

Thank you for the offer.:)

jongnono said...

great thanks my friend for helping us in a very special way to save and protect the culion cycas wadei a unique plant for the place that's being invaded by our influential people in position and power and who are even gov't officials who are suppose to be responsible in taking care of our land but alas they're the ones invading its habitat.. we've been propagating the ordinance for this genus to make the place as protected areas within the whole island of culion.. thanks and hoping that this cause will be prioritized by LGU and DOH who have the power to realize this law. we will keep our vigilance in making this endeavor a reality.. cheers ;) prayers too that nobody will be hurt because of this revelation..

jongnono said...

Cycas Wadei

The residents and friends of Culion, Palawan request your support in our initiative for the protection, preservation and propagation of Cycas Wadei locally known as Pitogo. This taxon originated from the grassland of Patag cogonal area and Halsey Harbor as reported by Foxworthy (1911) based on the study of an American botanist, E. D. Merrill. This plant was brought to the attention of the botanist by MD Howard Windsor Wade, one of the pioneering American doctor who cared for the leprous patients.

The taxon has been categorized by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature at LR, cd in 1997. According to IUCN if there is no conservation program in place specific to the habitat of the Cycas Wadei the plant will be qualified for one of the threatened categories within a period of 5 years.
We join the IUCN in their efforts to stop the extinction of Pitogos and stop the destruction of their natural habitat.

In this initiative we would like the Patag and Quezon and all the areas where this plant grows in the wilderness of Culion, Palawan so be declared as a protected habitat for the Cycas Wadei.

To Whom It May Concern:

I join my family and friends in Culion, Palawan to request your support in our initiative for the protection and preservation of the Cycas Wadei and its habitat. It is locally known as Pitogo. This plant represents our hope, resilience and passion.

It was initially discovered in Culion by Dr. H.W. Wade, who came to treat leprosy and gave our forefathers hope. He introduced the taxon to the world and highlighted attention to this little island called "the land of the living dead". Like all the generations of Culion, the plant exudes beauty and resilience. It represented the patience of lepers to be accepted again as normal and productive members of the world.

I call your attention to the 1997 International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Plants. I demand for the Pitogos to propagate not to be extinct. I desire that it will be part of our children's lives and the future generations.

I implore your support to protect the Cycas Wadei and its habitat. I request that the area be protected. Let the plant stay in Culion. Let the taxon be the symbol of the new Culion: peaceful, hopeful, resilient and friendly. I want this plant to represent us and tell the world to come and visit Culion and see its wonders and beauty.

john lisboa

Note to all friends supporting this initiative.



john lisboa

Rico said...

John, thanks for sharing your sentiments with us regarding this topic. Thank you for the trust and permitting me to re-post the posters, including other links. Thank you also for giving me the privilege to be a part of this worthy cause.


John clifton martyr said...

I agree with you that we need to preserve the area in culion to assure survival of the plants. Habitat destruction is the main reason why a lot of our native flora and fauna are at an alarmingly vulnerable state. And if you add the factor of indiscriminate harvesting, things can eadily become worse. With this in mind, is there a way for collectors to avail of seed and planting materials the ecological and legal way? Ex-situ propagation, with eventual re-introduction to the wild, more often done for animals, can be a viable option. Is there a group such as this or do you have plans for something like this that can serve as a gene bank to re populate the wild once the habitats are made secure? Let me know for i am willing to participate.

jongnono said...

the looming threat... actually we already made a resolution formed by the council of culion 2 years back but until now the mayors -past & present- cannot find a pen to sign it to save and protect the inhabitat of the said endemic plants... what else can we do? because we are facing now the goliath of politics and moderate greeds as we all know in the past... heaven help us.!

jongnono said...

these are the things we are doing now to preserve the habitat of our endemic specie in culion we called cycas wadei.. and other measures as yo mentioned here. we need more help and somehow exposures to fight for this encroachments or destruction of the habitat in many different ways.. we are now calling all our friends in manila even in the int'l arena or ngo's to help us on this endeavour. we're looking forward for the realization in making the place as reservation and as national park in culion as what the resolution and proposals from the council of culion itself were being made 2 years ago...

Rico said...

John clifton martyr, I hope that Sir jongnono has answered your queries. Please do not hesitate to share your suggestions to us if there is any.

I hope you become active in the crusade of protecting not only the Cycas Wadei of Culion, but in helping protect our endangered Philippine flora and fauna as well.

Rico said...

jongnono, thank you very much for dropping by once again here and addressing to John clifton martyr his concerns.

I may not be that active in this blog as I once was, but I try to do my own share in propagating and preserving some of these living treasures.

Unknown said...

When I was in Culion in 2008, I passed by inthe habitat of pitogo in brgy Patag. I was amazed by its beauty. I picked about 10seeds on the ground and planted it in paso, 2 have grown. Now its about 5ft tall. Is it true that its seed is toxic?

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