W.F. Sherfesee.

Annual Report of the Director of Forestry of the Philippine Islands online

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Section VII (same area) was also occupied chiefly by fur-
niture, but principally manufactured in the States from Phil-
ippine woods. At the end of the section (and of the exhibit)
was a large rack containing finished and unfinished single-piece
table tops.

The background of Sections III to VII, except inside the
office, was formed by an unbroken series of planks, about 300
in number and representing over 130 species. Below the planks
were arranged about 100 framed botanical sheets and 130 logs,
both of genera and species corresponding to the planks.

Beginning with the office and extending to the end, all the
floors were covered with flooring of apitong, yacal, almon, and
lumbayao, donated by various manufacturers and dealers.

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THE IjUMBER industry.

The total amount of lumber cut under license in the public
forests during 1915 was 276,267 cubic meters, as compared
with 294,688 cubic meters for 1914. In addition, there was a
very large but undetermined amount cut without license for
personal or domestic use. As anticipated in the annual report
for 1914, the year just passed has experienced a serious depres-
sion in the lumber market, due primarily to conditions brought
about by the European war, the principal cause affecting the
trade, as in most other industries, being the very great shortage
of transportation facilities to carry exports. The lumber in-
dustry has suffered specially from this cause, leaving, as the
result of the inability of the lumbering companies to export their
stock, a market flooded with lumber and (the most serious
feature of the situation) facing but a poor outlook for remedying
the condition. While freight rates are still going higher, trans-
portation facilities are becoming scarcer. Orders for export
are on hand, but it is impossible to fill them. None of the mills
are working with the activity or optimism of a year or more
ago. On the contrary, with no appreciable local demands for
lumber the companies have been forced to various expedients,
such as shutting down temporarily, curtailing their output to
the minimum to keep employed at least the most desirable por-
tion of their force, or chartering vessels at almost prohibitive
rates. Most unfortunate from an economic standpoint is the
discontinuance of operations, as labor is thrown out of employ-
ment and general depressing conditions ensue. In some cases,
however, the mills were absolutely forced to shut down as they
could no longer dispose of their products. Operations were
maintained up to the last minute in the hope that a remedy
could be effected and in certain cases work was still being con-
tinued even with the yards full of stock which was gradually
depreciating in value while subjected to the elements.

The situation of the lumber industry at this time suggests
ft^ question as to what can be done, insofar as the Government
m ^knearned, in assisting the companies to bridge over the crisis.
Tm^ i^medial measures suggest themselves: (1) That govern-
mental assistance be extended in obtaining shipping facilities
and (2) that the Government encourage the use of, and in-
sofar as may be consistent with an economical policy, purchase
a large amount of lumber. This seems a very opportune time
for the Insular Government to requisition a large supply of
lumber, with the added advantage of having later on a sufficient
amount of seasoned material with which to fill requisitions. So
closely allied to the present and future economic condition in

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the Philippines is the prevailing status of the lumbering industry
that it is thought that any governmental assistance that can
now be taken in the interest of relieving the present stagnation
will be more than justified in the years to come. Government
assistance and protection of the industry at this time will help
a great deal toward the progress of the industry later on.

As referred to in the previous report, the military author-
ities had contracted for nearly 2,500,000 board feet of lumber
to be delivered during the year covered by this report. This
order, so far as known, was completely filled by the lumbermen,
and it is strongly to be hoped that the lumber supplied to the
Army may have been so satisfactory, both in the time of delivery
and in quality, that the authorities will continue to buy local
lumber instead of importing it as heretofore. In thus contribut-
ing to having Philippine woods replace the imported woods
formerly used, the military authorities are performing for the
lumbermen a service emphasized by present conditions and
appreciated by the companies*

The question often arises as to the fitness of native woods as
substitutes for imported woods. This very question has the
tendency of adding to the depression of the market. No jus-
tifiable reason exists for the claim of superiority of imported
woods, as the native products which can be supplied are as good
and very often better than imported woods for the purposes
for which they are to be used. There is no reason for the
importation of woods into this country and the Government
should be foremost in using and in encouraging the use of noth-
ing but native woods. Cooperation on the part of the Govern-
ment and the lumbermen would bring about an adjustment of
the problem of substitution in a way that will be most beneficial
to the interests of the Islands.

A very important step which will eventually react to the
mutual advantage of the lumbermen wks the formation during
the latter part of the year of the Philippine Lumber Manufac-
turers' Association. Up to very recent times there existed no
cooperation among the individual companies in this industry,
but the formation of this association will, it is to be hoped, place
the industry on a more solid basis and will tend not only to
secure for the members the recognition of which the importance
of the industry is so deserving, but will be a means of combining
the interests of the industry as a whole. Similar organizations
have accomplished important results for lumber companies in
the United States, and it is to be expected that directing the
united efforts of the members of the organization here toward
the common interests of all will mean faster progress than in

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the past, when each individual attempted alone to bring about
certain remedies. Meeting one another and working out their
interests together will help a great deal to bring the market
back to its normal state when the opportunity once offers itself.
Practically all the mill owners of the Islands are members and
the association as an expression of good will elected as honorary
members the Director of Forestry and the chief, division of
forest management. It is a great satisfaction to report the
formation of this organization and it is sincerely to be hoped
that it will take advantage of the many opportunities with which
it is at present confronted.

A very encouraging step was taken by the association during
the year to relieve the industry of a great and long standing
disadvantage. As mentioned in the previous annual report, on
account of the complete lack of grading rules under which all
Philippine export lumber could be inspected and graded, a great
deal of undesirable lumber was being shipped to foreign markets
and there oftentimes rejected. Grading rules are absolutely es-
sential before a reliable export market can be established. In
competition with other woods bought and sold on the foreign
markets under grading rules drawn up in a way best suited to
the purposes to which they are to be put, it is absolutely neces-
sary that Philippine lumber be offered to the world's markets
under similar conditions — ^that is, accompanied by a certificate
of inspection, stating that the shipment is of a certain grade
or grades; and that such certificates may have any value, it is
necessary to have a recognized body behind them. Only through
the proper grading and certification of export lumber can Phil-
ippine woods ever hope to gain their proper place in foreign
markets. This iS one great opportunity for the association to
perform a permanent service for its members. It is sincerely
to be hoped that the association will adopt a new set of rules
of such a nature that they will have the immediate support of
the Government, as the voluntary adoption of such rules will
be of much more advantage to the industry than would ever
be obtained from the Government forcing a set of rules on the
market and compelling all shipments to be inspected under them.
When the association rules are once completed and proven ac-
ceptable, the Government should be the first to adopt them and
thus lend its moral support. This matter will be taken up by
this office as soon as the rules are once completed and ready
for use.

As a practical means of exhibiting its support to this move-
ment, the Bureau secured the authorization in the last Legis-
lature to appoint two lumber inspectors, who, at the instances

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of the lumbermen, will perform any inspection work which may-
be requested and whose services will be used in all such exigen-
cies of the Government. The United States Forest Service has
already been requested to lend its assistance toward securing
suitable appointees for the position of lumber inspector. These
appointees should be picked men and should be thoroughly fami-
liar with the entire hardwood situation and market in the United
States. This familiarity should not be theoretical, but based
upon sound knowledge gained through experience. They should
also be familiar with the markets of foreign countries and should
have a thorough working knowledge of the hardwood lumber
industry, particularly insofar as refers to the manufacture of
the raw product. Thus, it will be seen that one of the objects
of this plan is to lessen the heavy losses incurred by Philippine
lumber exporters and will confer the additional advantage of
assuring the purchaser of Philippine lumber that an order placed
by him in the Philippines will be filled scrupulously and satis-
factorily, in accordance with the specifications of the contracts
which have been accepted mutually by the purchaser and the
exporter. In instances where private work is performed, the sal-
aries and expenses of the inspectors will be borne by the indi-
vidual or company using them. In this way it costs the Gov-
ernment nothing and a great deal is being accomplished for the
country through the exportation of properly inspected and cer-
tified lumber. As this becomes recognized and buyers realize
that they can be sure of getting what lumber they order, just
so soon will the export trade increase until there is a prosperous
market for Philippine lumber. These inspections will, of course,
be carried out in direct cooperation with the lumbermen's

While the question of grading is a very important measure
that will have the constant support and assistance of the Bureau,
the employment of two lumber inspectors may be regarded
merely as a temporary expedient, which will not be permanently
necessary. There is every reason to believe that as the present
situation is remedied and the industry resumes its former finan-
cial stability, the association will employ inspectors on its own
account, as do the various associations in the United States.
When this is brought about, Government inspectors will no longer
be needed. Additional aid will be given by the Bureau in train-
ing for this inspection work a corps of Filipinos, who will be
able to enter the employ of the association, should such a course
become desirable.

A number of complaints were heard during the latter part
of the year of the very serious effect of the new law (measure-

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ment of timber in the round before manufacture) on the lumber
industry and how this law has had a tendency of greatly in-
creasing forest charges and consequently causing a depressing
effect upon the lumber market. The seriousness of the situation
is not anywhere near as much as claimed, but it has been ac-
centuated by the fact that the law went into effect during a
depression of the lumber market and at a time when the Bureau
of Internal Revenue made an increase of taxes on all kinds of
business. Actually, the new timber-scaling law has increased
forest charges only from 25 per cent to 50 per cent, i. e.,
whereas the charge on fourth-group timber was ^1.36 per M
tinder the old method, it runs from W.70 to 1P2.04 per M under
the new law. It is easily seen that an increase of from 1P0.34
to ^0.68 per M on lumber selling around ^60 per M can hardly
have the depressing effect attributed to it. There is no doubt
but what the situation will adjust itself when once the lumber-
men realize that they must manufacture much more economically
under the new system than they did under the old one, which,
owing to its very character, invited indiscriminate waste on the
part of the mill force. It would obviously not be good business
policy for the owner of any property to allow a prospective
buyer to pick out only the desirable portion of that property
and then disregard or reject the less desirable part, the owner
having no voice in the matter.

A comparison of the exports and imports of timber and lum-
ber for the years 1914 and 1915 is shown in the following table:




Timber ^*"— tv

Lumber - ^l^__Jo3

Furniture «nd others J8tS.-.«-




Ml, 744. 00







^ "^




A study of the above table shows a
decrease in the exports. This is
by the fact that during the entire yeajgso:
difficult and sometimes impossible ^ ^
the export material. Studying the t||»ie

Si ^Mue of 20 per cent
entirely explained
^15 it has been very
^in transportation for
of imports, it will be

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noticed that the total val^^ decreased by the large amount
of 57 per cent. One iia^Wt first think that wood is being used
less, but the real e^an^ion is that a great deal more native
wood is being us^'^ii instance is the item of ties, which has
gradually decrgp^^d^om a high value some years ago to noth-
ing at all at tH^resent time. So it is to be expected that in
time, exceptiWkrw^alties not manufactured in the Philippines,
all items of mi^r and its manufactures will disappear almost
entirely from the import list.


A great deal of propaganda work has been carried on during
the past year with a view to encouraging the exportation of
lumber to China. Numerous inquiries from interested parties
in China have been answered by supplying data regarding the
character and available supply of Philippine woods, in some
cases considerable numbers of copies of extracts being furnished
to applicants ; articles have been published in journals having a
wide circulation, and sets of specimen panels furnished to Gov-
ernment officials and to lumber dealers. The following extracts
from letters and publications will serve to illustrate the char-
acter of this propaganda :

[No. 1.]


Even before the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, there was some
traffic in wood between the Islands and China, but this was probably
limited to very small quantities of some of the most valuable cabinet woods,
such as ebony and camagon, narra, or tindalo, and perhaps also some
©f the very strong and durable woods used in shipbuilding. During the
long Spanish regime this traffic increased considerably, especially as
regards the latter class of woods. Among the species oftenest mentioned
as being exported to China were aranga, ipil, molave, dungon, and yacal.
These exports ceased almost entirely at the outbreak, in 1896, of the
revolution against the Spanish power and it was only some years after
the establishment of the American Government in these Islands that they
began again.

At first, the exports of wood to China were of the same character as
during the latter part of the past century — that is, they consisted mainly
of those shipbuilding timbers known since ancient times for their strength
and durability, with a smaller proportion of cabinet woods. But, mean-
while, two great changes had taken place. Even before the revolution,
most of the very high-grade construction timbers had been becoming
scarcer and higher priced. After peace was established under the present
Government, the local demand for these woods naturally increased, not
only to repair the damages caused by neglect and active destruction during
the. war, but also for many new undertakings. On the other hand, there
began about ten years ago the exploitation on a large scale of the great
dipterocarp forests, with the result that there has become available a

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supply of the very abundant woods of the apitong and lauan groups greater
than was ever before found in the markets. Practically the only wood
whose status has not changed much is yacal. This, as well as the other
high-grade construction timbers, had been growing scarcer, but the open-
ing of new forests, while contributing very little to the supply of molave,
ipil, or dungon, did increase very much the supply of yacal,, so that the
latter is now available in as great quantities and perhaps even greater,
than during the latter years of the past century.

The result of these changes is that the supply of the very high-grade
woods, except yacal, will always be limited, while there will be available
for export great quantities of apitong and lauans, of yacal, and of a
few other woods, pagatpat and lumbayao being the most notable among
those that do not belong to the dipterocarp or lauan family.

A comparison between these Philippine export timbers and the other
foreign woods now used in China is perhaps best introduced by showing
the mechanical properties of Philippine woods and those of some of the
best-known American and Bornean timbers. The following figures are
taken from "Mechanical Tests, Properties, and Uses of Thirty-four Phil-
ippine Woods" by RoUand Gardner, Bull. No. 4, Bureau of Forestry, Manila,

Name of wood.

Country of origrin.


modulus of



per square



modulus of



pounds per





grravity of

dry wood.

Oresron pine

Lonirleaf pine

California redwood

Borneo yacal

Kruen (apitons:)

Seraiah mira (red lauan)

Seraiah puteh (white lauan) .



Apitongr -

White lauan

Red lauan* .

United States




do — ..


do -

Philippine Islands.

.„.- do







* The tests of red lauan were made only on beams with a very high average moisture content
(65 to 84 per cent) ; for seiisoned lumber, the figrures would be considerably higrher. probably
approaching those for white lauan.

[No. 2.]

Taking the Philippine woods of importance for export as a whole, we
can consider them as falling into four main classes — ^the yacals, the
apitongs, the lauans, and the woods belonging to the Leguminosae or so-
called "locust" family of the Temporate Zone.


This group comprises trees locally known as yacal, narig, mangachapuy,
and dalingdingan. The timbers are hard and durable and are much more
plentiful than the other very durable commercial woods of the Islands.


The apitong group comprises timbers known as apitong, panao, hagac-
hac, and guijo. The first three are marketed under the name of apitong.
Guijo is generally considered somewhat superior. Well-seasoned timbers
of this group weigh between 40 and 60 pounds per cubic foot.

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It is in this group that the main wealth of the Philippine forests lies.
It comprises timbers locally known as white lauan, red lauan, almon, bag-
tican, mayapis, tiaong, and tanguile. For the sake of simplicity, they may
be divided into two classes, namely, the white and red lauans. Export
grades of the red lauans are used in Europe and America as substitutes
for mahogany, and are frequently sold as such. While not so hard and
durable as mahogany, lauan has a beautiful grain and permits of a very
fine polish.

The main bulk of the forest produces timbers of comparatively few
kinds and in some instances approaches pure stands of one or two grades.
It is estimated oh an average that 70 to 80 per cent of all the dipterocarp
forests will yield timbers that belong to the groups described above.


Next in importance to the dipterocarp family are the leguminosae, or
locust family, to which a number of the commercially important cabinet
Woods of the Philippines belong. Among the principal representatives
of this family are narra, tindalo, ipil, supa, acle, and banuyo. No finer
hardwoods are found anywhere in the world.


The average stand in the virgin forests of the Philippines may be
roughly estimated to run 6,000 board feet per acre and over. On some
of the tracts now being worked under long-term license agreements (or
concessions as they are popularly called) the stands run between 15,000
and 35,000 board feet per acre. Stands of 45,000 to 60,000 board feet
per acre are not infrequent, principally at elevations between 800 and 1,200
feet above sea level.

Export timbers fall roughly into four principal classes: Woods for in-
terior finish and furniture, cabinet woods, woods for special uses, and
heavy construction timbers.


The prime requisite of a wood for these purposes is that it be at least
fairly abundant. Also, it must be not very difficult to work and to finish,
of good size, and last, but not least, of pleasing texture and color. All
of these requisites are fulfilled by the woods of the dipterocarp (lauan)
family. This family occupies the place that the conifers do in the north
Temperate Zone, but possesses a wider range of color, hardness, and other
qualities. The lauan group of dipterocarps contains the greatest amount
of timber especially fitted for interior finish and furniture. Tanguile, red
lauan, and white lauan are obtainable in great quantities, have a fine
ribbon grain when quarter-sawn, and in texture and color the first two
resemble true mahogany and its substitutes very closely. White lauan
differs from them only in color, being white with a very pale grayish-
brown tint. It is pretty in natural finish where a light color is desired
and, on the other hand, lends itself Very well to staining. Almon, a very
pale red lauan, is similar to white lauan as regards stains.

The other woods of the same family — guijo, apitong, and yacal — ^are
also abundant. This fact and their greater hardness enable them to fill

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a demand for flooring in place of oak, red beech, maple and other Amer-
ican woods which are yearly becoming scarcer. Guijo is light ashy brown
to reddish brown and apitong is somewhat darker. Finished with wax
or varnish, they range from reddish brown to dark chocolate. Both are
hard and of rather fine texture. Where a very hard wood is desired for
flooring, yacal, the hardest and heaviest of the dipterocarps and the most
abundant of the hard, heavy, and durable woods in the Philippines, will
find a place.

There are several woods of other families which, though not as abundant
as the lauans, are still to be obtained in sufficient quantities to supply in-
dustries that do not require many millions of feet per year. Such are
lumbayao, pagatpat, and nato. Lumbayao is similar to red lauan in ap-
pearance, but is slightly harder and tougher and has a more conspicuous
flake grain when quarter-sawn; nato is of similar color and texture,
but of very homogeneous grain; pagatpat also is even-grained, but 6f a
rich dark-brown color.

In the Philippines many other hard, durable, beautifully colored woods
are also frequently used for flooring and interior finish; for the export
trade, however, these woods, on account of their beauty, comparative
scarcity, and higher price, should rather be classified as cabinet woods.

[No. 3.]

Online LibraryW.F. SherfeseeAnnual Report of the Director of Forestry of the Philippine Islands → online text (page 8 of 100)