The Almaciga (Agathis philippinesis) is a species of conifer trees native to the Philippines with its concentration mostly in Palawan. Its resin is harvested by hand for use in varnishes and other similar applications. Traditionally, its used as fire starter, caulking for boats, smudge for mosquitoes and incense for religious ceremonies.
Almaciga is a large tree with a pyramidal crown and whorled branches, growing to a height of 50 to 60 meters, the trunk up to 3 meters in diameter with a smooth and graying bark exuding resin. Leaves are simple, opposite or nearly so, entire and leathery, oblong-lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, obtuse, 3 to 9.5 centimeters long, 1 to 2.5 centimeters wide. Male cones are cylindrical-oblong, 1.5 to 5 centimeters long. Female cones are 2.5 to 5 centimeters long, globose or ovoid, up to 5 centimeters in diameter; scales are broadly cuneate, 1 to 1.5 centimeters across. Seeds are about 1 centimeter long, with the falcate decurved obtuse wing.
Almaciga belongs to the same family and same genus as the New Zealand “kauri pine” (Agathis australis) which also yields a resin similar to almaciga. The resin of A. philippinensis is found in the bark and oozes out whenever cut. Occasional lumps of resin are found in the forks of the branches, and large masses – called fossil (mineral) resins – are found in the ground. True copals are hard, lustrous, yellow, brown or nearly white, more or less insoluble in the usual solvents, rendered soluble by melting before making into varnish.
– Copals are resins which contain very permanent substances known as resenes.
– Copals also contain ethereal oils, a bitter principle and a coloring matter.
– Zanzibar and Cameroon copals consist mainly of resin acids and resenes; Manila copals are mostly of resin acids (12% vs 6% of Zanzibar).
– Historical info: The first shipments of copal came from Manila, which earned it the name Manila copal. By the 20th century, 75% of the product was being shipped from Indonesia. The source of all East Indian, Philippine, and Malayan copal, is Agathis alba. These copals are erroneously called damars, although they are quite distinct from true damars.
– For arthritis, resin is softened by steam or indirect heat (not open fire) and spread on cloth or gauze and apply over affected area.
– For asthma, smoke is inhaled from the burning resin.
– In Malaya, the resin is used as liniment.
– In Malaysia, powdered wood used to treat headache and myalgia. (4)
– The Kankana-ey people of Benguet drink a decoction fresh leaves with stems for stomachache, ulcers, and dysentery. (10)Others- Varnish: Used in the manufacture of high-grade varnish.
– Resin employed as incense in religious ceremonies, for torches, to facilitate starting fires, caulking boats, as smudge for mosquitoes.
– Exported and used in the manufacture of high-grade varnish.
– Also used in making patent leather and sealing wax.
– Used in the manufacture of cheap soaps and paper sizing.
– Resinate products use in paper manufacturing to render the paper non-bibulous.
– Used as incense in religious ceremonies; used for lighting torches.