Búko actually means a young, immature fruit or a flower that has yet to open, and may refer to a variety of plants, not just coconuts. But by sheer profusion and popularity, the term has been so closely associated and often mistaken as the Tagalog of the coconut fruit (and the tree).
The Tagalog for coconut (Cocos nucifera) is niyóg, and if you leave it to mature on the tree, it will dry up, shrink a bit and turn brown. But most prefer to harvest it when it is still young, large and green (right), in its búko stage.
And understandably for good reason! My favorite is "búko juice" which is the cool, clear water inside, then scooping out the gelatinous flesh, all fresh from the shell! It's a defining pleasure you can only have by living in the tropics.
(contractors or middlemen) come and purchase all the harvest-able búko in the farm. We have no means to do this on our own: climbing a couple of hundred trees is pretty daunting already, and some are four- to five-storeys high!
It's fascinating to see the coconut farmers busy with their work. With spikes on their shoes, they climb up the trees with a chain harnessed around their waists, then they go about knocking on the coconuts like it's as simple and easy as a desk job.
The good ones they select, they hook the entire buhîg (bunch?) into some rope, and let it slide down (right), carefully making sure the coconuts don't come down to the ground a-crashing (when we do it ourselves, we always end up with broken coconuts!).
They have to be collected at the foot of each tree and manually transported to the gate where the truck is. Now this smiling worker on the left makes it look so light and easy but the coconuts he's carrying on his pinggâ is as heavy as your two-piece, maxed-out, checked-in luggage!