The panorama on the sunrise side: an awesome view of Malarayat

The quiet panorama on the sunrise side of the farm: an awesome view of Mount Malaráyat and the river below the gap.

20 October 2012


Photo courtesy of Jay Santos

I guess it's a generational thing, that most of the people my age would always, no fail, point out to themselves or their kids or sometimes, even to me, the curious weed called Makahiyâ (Mimosa pudica). Maybe this was one of just a few prolific and hardy plants that managed to thrive in Manila in the '70s before we were all taken over by concrete?

In reality, the makahiya is an invasive weed that is not native to the Philippines but instead, most likely hitched a ride on the galleons during the Spanish conquest, alongside numerous plant species. It's from tropical America but is now practically naturalized everywhere in the islands.

Americans call this "shy grass" or "touch-me-not," and is preposterously sold online as an easy-to-grow houseplant, from seeds!!! Maybe we should start "harvesting" them hahahaha...

13 October 2012

Philippine Tree of the Month: Rimas

One of my most favorite trees is the Rímas (Artocarpus altilis), with enormous foliage and an over-all robust stance that makes it look like it will explode with fruits! I first learned to appreciate it on a visit to the Batanes Islands many years ago where they use rimas instead of banana leaves to serve their country cooking. Apart from the leaves being big, it has a distinct shape and is handsomely veined.

It belongs to the same family as Kamansî (A. camansi), Langkâ (A. heterophyllus), Márang (A. odoratissimus), and the Tipólo (A. blancoi). It took me time to find a seedling years ago; for some strange reason, no one propagates this and hardly will you find the fruit sold in markets. Now I happened to tell a friend, Tintin about it and she promptly had some sent from her home province in Nueva Vizcaya! She says the fruits just fall off the tree and the seeds germinate by istelf.

Some scientists contest though that the Kamansi is just the same as the Rimas, except that it has no seeds. Either way, both are edible and is in fact, deliciously prepared by cooking in gatâ (coconut cream) garnished with pork or shrimp bits.

It is indigenous to the archipelago but also naturally occurs elsewhere. In fact, it is more closely identified with the Pacific Islands, and is always mentioned as the fruit that Captain Bligh made the trip for on the HMS Bounty, wherein his crew staged the novel-inspiring mutiny.

11 October 2012

Five Images

This and all photos in this entry are from Jay Santos

Another close friend, visiting from California was in the farm yesterday and I thought of sharing his photographs to lend new perspectives and fresh perceptions apart from my typical visuals. It's always a pleasure to see our place from somebody's eyes, especially if it is artistically and technically well done.

Jay is on a very brief, one-week visit and it flatters me no end that he made precious time to come visit us in Lipa. We have been friends since our teens and I guess we're wired similarly and have congruous long-term plans; so much that he wanted to see for himself what I've done so far.

09 October 2012

Garden Bench

We have a new "old" bench, a rustic artisanal piece that suits our countryside ambience. It's charmingly simple; a free-form, organic-looking, simplistically-crafted bench, apparently made of Dúngon wood (Heritiera sylvatica). What makes it novel is that the wood's been bored by woodworms, resulting in a random, natural pattern that makes each piece unique. In reality, the timber's practically useless already since its been gnawed at, but some intrepid craftsmen saw the lumber nevertheless and create artistic pieces. 

When I acquired it, it had a somewhat sloppy coat of varnish which I'm letting fade and will hopefully be gone in the next twelve months. This same wood, in its whole but gnawed form, is sometimes used by landscapers to mount bromeliads and orchids on.

06 October 2012

As the World Turns

It's only been some days since the September equinox and now, it clearly gets dark earlier as the day become shorter towards the end of the year. Today, I also begin another new personal journey around the sun as I turn forty-four. It's striking that since I have been here in Lipa, more rooted to the earth than ever before, I have increasingly become more sensitive to the seasons, cycles, the winds, the colors in a leaf, the people around me.

It has been an incredibly satisfying time, and I find myself being part of a much bigger picture alongside like-minded people. I hope the next twelve months will be even more fruitful, enriching, and productive. 

04 October 2012


Profusely flowering now is our Purple Bauhinia tree (Bauhinia purpurea), on its second year of flowering now since we planted it just a little more than three years ago. Needless to say, it is a fast grower and an excellent shade tree.

It belongs to the same family as the indigenous Alibangbáng; Lorie who joined us some months back (when it was not flowering) insisted this is the tree whose leaves they used to sour their dishes. But it is not this, and I doubt if any part of this Bauhinia is edible at all.

What it does though, is it sheds its beautiful orchid-like flowers and evenly litters the ground with a thin carpet of purple petals. Unfortunately, I cannot capture it well enough and I certainly can attest that it looks much better than the image on the left.

This is also the same flower that is the symbol of Hong Kong, and appears on their flag and many other national emblems.

01 October 2012

A Fellow Blogger Visits

photo by Groovy Dulcet
It sweeps me off my feet that fellow blogger and loyal reader Groovy Dulcet came to the farm yesterday, all the way from New York, despite her short Philippine visit! She has been a friend from a long time ago, but we have not seen each other for more than twenty years. We found each other recently through Facebook and consequently discovered each other's blogs. Yet even though we live on opposite sides of our wide, wide world, we write and muse over pretty much the same things: gardening, slow food, home-made crafts... the whole caboodle!

photo by Groovy Dulcet
It's also only now I personally meet her adorable five-year old son Zach, who is gifted with a natural curiosity especially with tropical stuff that must look novel to a North American like him. From dried palápas to ripe balimbíng (right) which he gamely tasted (and liked!), he wandered around the farm and would excitedly point at another new discovery.

The highlight of the day was the lunch she brought: seafood pasta, a bottle of Shiraz and Fougasse bread (below) she herself baked! It smelled heavenly and is deliciously chewy and crusty at the same time. And because she especially baked it for her visit, she shaped her bread like a tropical leaf, touches me no end. Of course, time is always short whenever we are having a good time, though it gives us sufficient excuse to see each other again :)

photo by Groovy Dulcet