Bicol’s Secret Tree with Moisturizing Properties: The Manila Elemi


For the past years, “Pili” tree has become the symbol of Bicolandia. Internationally, the Pili tree is known as the Manila elemi tree (Canarium Ovatum) and has been in the spotlight lately. Why?


Well, luxury brands like Chanel, Dior, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Marc Jacob, and Donna Karan uses the gum of “Pili” for their exotic perfume or organic beauty products.


Yes, you read that right! And to give a background about the Pili tree here’s some information that you need to know. 


What is a Pili tree?


What is a Pili tree


The pili tree is a tropical tree that grows abundantly in the region of Bicol. It belongs to the Burseraceae family of oleoresin-producing trees and considered as a cousin of frankincense.


It is indigenous to the Philippines and mainly produced in Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Eastern and Western Visayas, Caraga, and Southern Mindanao.


Pili plays a significant role in the economy of Bicol. It provides additional income to farmers who own at least 10 trees and farm laborers hired as harvesters.


Manila Elemi


Manila Elemi

Manila elemi is the trade name for the fragrant secreted from the trunk of the Canarium tree species which includes Pili.


According to the Philippine Council for Agriculture Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development,  the fragrant secreted from the trunk is used by the fragrance industry after the distillation of its essential oils.


And now, international luxury brand Chanel carries Pili in their newest product, the Ultra Correction Lift for facial skin rejuvenation.


The product advertisement reads: “At the heart of the Pacific Ocean, the island of Luzon holds the secrets of a tree with moisturizing properties: the Manila elemi.”


Boost to Bicol’s Pili Industry



Of course, because of this discovery, the demand from the perfumery industry has increased. Most of the demand comes from signature brands of perfume like Marc Jacobs, DKNY Women, Gucci, Dior Homme Sport for Men, Revlon Pink Happiness for Women, etc.


France also imports Pili products from the Philippines for its limonene content that is evident as a fragrance component in luxury perfumes while Germany uses it for pharmaceutical purposes.


In 2003, 361,386 kg of the resin valued at $528,336 was exported to France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States, the Philippine Forestry Statistics showed.


According to Arsenio Ella, (a scientist of the Forest Products Research and Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology) softer, whiter and cleaner gum resin has more premium grade.


He also explained its scent as an aromatic scent described as a pale yellow liquid with fresh, lemony, peppery, balsam, green, woody, sweet and spicy odor.


With this high demand,  it will surely give a big boost to Bicol’s Pili industry. It will also provide additional income to some 14,000 farmers who own at least 10 trees and farm laborers hired as harvesters.

Samantha Baluyot

Sam joined Remit this 2018. She is a Journalism graduate who loves to see the world in different point of views. Her goal in writing is to inspire her readers to have a better perspective and to live a meaningful life. She may look aloof but she’s a very friendly and a happy-go-lucky person.


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