An accidental walking tour in the mountain village of San Jose

An accidental walking tour in the mountain village of San Jose

Buri palms growing naturally planted by fruit bats that feeds on the buri palm fruits. Also in the photo is the local farmer who made my photoshoot a serendipitous farm tour.


Native santol fruits are rich source of vitamic C and a local delicacy when cooked with coconut milk in the ‘suli na santol’ dish*.

Buri Mother Palm

Death inevitably follows after the once-in-a-lifetime blooming and fruiting phase of the Buri palm (center) but not after over a million seeds are dispersed by wild bats and birds.

Buri palms and assorted crops

The farm owner showing me the Buri palms and assorted vegetables and root crops growing in his farm lot.


Tuba is a fish poison plant that does no harm to the water ecosystem. It is traditionally used for artisanal fishing.

Karagumoy grove

Karagumoy leaves sell from 50 to 70 pesos per hundred. This pandan species is the main source of the materials used for making bay’ong and the common karagumoy hats.*

Fallen Karagumoy fruits

Fruits of the Karagumoy are usually cut off from the stem before they ripen to prevent the plant from stunting.

Pili seedling

A Pili seedling finds a suitable growing spot inside the stalk of this Karagumoy. Intercropping the Pili trees and Coconut with Karagumoy is a common practice in Bulusan.

Dolaw is turmeric

Dolaw a.k.a. turmeric is a popular folkloric medicinal plant in the villages of Bulusan.

While shooting a wild plant along the road of Barangay San Jose, I spotted an elderly farmer tending his front yard garden of assorted vegetables and crops. As good custom dictates, I said my “Mayad na adlaw po, (Good day),” to greet the village resident. My gesture was met with enthusiasm as soon as he learned that I am into photographing local plants. It was a spontaneous hospitality.The next thing I knew was I am being toured to a biodiverse residential family farm – a product of long years of dedicated and devoted farming life. Coconut trees interspersed with Pili trees, intercropped with Karagumoy and Buri palms and so many assorted fruits and vegetable –  more than my camera could capture extend from end to end of the most livable farm patch I have ever seen in Bulusan.

Voices of family members from a modest cemented house (a child and elderly grandmother, and a mother were discussing what TV program to watch) can be heard from the spot where I was busy taking the photos (above). Mixed with the ambient sound of the village farm, the voices arguing at times added to the bucolic charm of the place. No wonder why the resident farmer seemed so enthusiastic to tour me around. “Almost everything we need, I get it from here. My children though are advising me to retire because of my age. They can support me well even if I stop farming. But this is where I get my energy. I’ll become weaker if I stop tending the farm,” he related as we walked around the farm.

My tour was cut short though because the tricycle ride that brought me to the village was only good for an hour or two as agreed upon me and the driver. Despite of the shortness of time, the hurried trip turned out to be a serendipitous farm tour that yielded several plant photos with some ethnobotanical notes to boot.

*Suli na santol recipe :

*Karagumoy hats :

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
San Jose, Bulusan, Sorsogon


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