The wonders of gumihan

The wonders of gumihan

I was intrigued by a comment from a reader of a posted article about gumihan in a Philippine online site ( that says: “Gumihan is a not-so-common fruit desired for its aromatic, fleshy and sweet taste. This tree grows well in Bicol, existing as natural stand. As there is no attempt to commercially propagate it this tree is fast vanishing. Compared to marang, a gumihan fruit is smaller but it tastes far superior to the former. We should save this tree species before it goes extinct.”

From another botanical site gumihan was also a recent topic.  Derek Cabactulan a resource person and member of the plant id site, Co’s Digital Flora of the Philippines, also added: “According to CDFP from the old records, this tree is indigenous to Borneo, Philippines, Sulawesi, and Moluccas. LUZON: Quezon to Sorsogon, MINDORO, BILIRAN, SAMAR, MINDANAO. I think this tree is underutilized in some parts of our country. It is a good tree in the backyard that provide us food, shade and as ornamental backyard plant. Better save some seeds and gave those who were interested in planting this tree.  It is a valuable ethno-agroforestry species.”

These interesting tidbits of information  prompted me to test taste the fruit. Fortunately, the months of  May and June to July is  the fruiting season of the gumihan tree and ordering from Joseph a villager from Odikin was just a text (SMS) away. He brought four(4) ripe fruits from a gumihan tree not far from their house. “The fruits are just falling from the tree and anyone is welcome to partake of it. It is for free, ” Joseph told me.  No wonder that no one is planting the gumihan. Sadly, fruit trees are only valued as an agricultural crop if the fruits are given monetary equivalent.

Gumihan fruits from Odikin, Bulusan, June 2014

Gumihan fruits from Odikin, Bulusan, June 2014

In terms of appearance the gumihan looks like a small marang with scruffy hair (above photos). Its seeds are more packed and dense and  less fleshy than marang fruits. It is devoid however of the heavy scent associated with marang. The downside of eating gumihan is you won’t feel full while eating and the jaw will become so heavily worked out. In the words of Joan a young mountain maiden familiar with the fruit: “mangangalay an imo panga ate sa kasusupsop (your jaw will get tired from sucking the pulp out of the seeds).” True enough, my jaw felt like it had been to a work out after finishing the four pieces of gumihan straight in one sitting.

Naturally grown and fruiting gumihan tree along the mountain trail of Kapangihan, an outlying mountain village of Bulusan.

Wild grown and fruiting gumihan tree along the mountain trail of Kapangihan, an outlying mountain village of Bulusan.

Wild and delicious. The gumihan is an example of an underutilized endemic forest fruit tree that needs to be reintroduced and cultivated for future generations.

Gumihan’s scientific name is Artocarpus sericicarpus.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines


A time to plant : Photos of rice planting season in Bulusan

Rice field ready for planting, Taowg, Bulusan, June 2014

Rice field ready for planting, Bulusan, June 2014

A time to plant : view from a rural jeepney How can I forget the passing and cycle of seasons? It is hard not to be mindful when the beauty of the landscapes of the countryside is the default mode. Its beauty assault I cannot ignore even if the glimpse will take only a second to snap from a passing jeepney. I have to be really fast during these shoots when I have to position my camera inside a running jeepney oftentimes myself occupying the front seat.

For almost two (2) years documenting the fields along Bulusan route from a jeepney passenger perspective, these images (rice field photos) seem to appear like a slide show flowing flawlessly in a perfect cadence  in my mind. The borderline between my memories of past unending cycles of sowing and harvesting in these familiar routes seems to merge as I snapped away the landscapes of my town and its neighbors  from a jeepney — a habit probably now familiar with the local jeepney drivers in my hometown. Thanks to these rural jeepney drivers, they don’t mind this quirky habit of mine at all! In fact, they tend to follow the rhythm of the sound of the clicks of my camera during my shooting mode and sometimes give the go signal nudge for me to snap a view  and  to quip unexpectedly —  “that too, that is beautiful!”


Rice planting season in Bulusan, 2014 (image #2)

Rice planting season with Bulusan Volcano as backdrop, June 2014.

Countryside scene, 19 June 2014

Countryside scene, 19 June 2014

Photos: Alma P. Gamil, Bulusan-Barcelona, Sorsogon  road view,  June 19, 2014

Ice cold beer on a hot day at the beach

Ice cold beer on a hot day at the beach

Eva's Beach Park, Bulusan, June 2014

Eva’s Beach Park, Bulusan, June 2014

I have no other plans  that afternoon of June 11, 2014  but to hie off to a near beach and sniff a doze of ocean’s breeze. I needed this fix badly to counteract some personal giddiness of late.

So off to the beach I went. The newly opened Eva’s Beach Park was my choice for a change of venue from my usual beach foray. An ice-cold beer on a hot afternoon by the beach seems a nice idea at that moment.

From the center town, it takes only a 10-peso tricycle ride to reach Eva’s Beach Park — a newly opened resort cum restaurant/pub along the beach of Dancalan, a coastal village. It is still under construction but the rawness is okay with me. The casual arrangement that is not intimidating added to the relax mode of the place. I love it at once because of its lack of pretensions. What you see is what you get.  The sprawling lawn is not yet manicured and the huts have that picnic Philippine style look  that are so inviting even for passers-by.

I don’t usually like plastic flowers as interior accents  so it  was  a surprise that the pink and yellow flowers dangling on the ceiling of the main cottage do not bother me a bit. Even the bulky karaoke sound system that was  not in use that afternoon is okay with me. The place was empty of visitors by the time I arrived — nearing 3:30 pm.

I selected a spot where I have a full view of the crescent-shaped ocean’s edge of Dancalan shore. The spot is a simple coconut stump table with its cut trunk  serving as bench. I ordered San Miguel Light. It arrived in a bucket full of ice cubes. It tasted sweet to me and as I sat alone in that beautiful spot my thoughts lingered to a sweet friend of mine a thousand miles away and imagined how different things would be if I could share this moment with him — this beer moment by the sea.

Cheers to YOU, my dulce extranjero!

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Photos : Alma Gamil
Eva’s Beach Park, Dancalan, Bulusan, Sorsogon

An afternoon in the village

Multi-tasking mother in Barangay Santa Barbara, Bulusan, 2014.

Multi-tasking mother in Barangay Santa Barbara, Bulusan, 2014.

An afternoon in the village

I love stories. This is the reason why I love taking photographs.

“Why not take our photographs while we’re weaving,” says the younger mother when she saw me taking photos of the native Biriran tree at their front yard in Odikin. Of course, I was just too happy to oblige. I knew very well just by looking at the subjects that the photos will result to these interesting vignettes.

Odikin officially referred to as Barangay Santa Barbara is an outlying mountain village located at the lower slopes of Mount Bulusan. It is here where I source most of the Bulusan plant photos.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon

Go Sweet Stranger

Go Sweet Stranger

Sweet stranger go.

Go and do not think of me. Do not burden yourself with guilt. I already knew the end of this even before you uttered your sweet lies. I know the likes of you. Do not worry about me. I am an old soul. I have already befriended the skies, the moon, the stars and the blazing sun eons ago. I have befriended the sand and the waves and frolicked in it in the summer sun and will do so in the days to come. So do not worry about me. I am in the best company. Go.

And oh, by the way, thank you for bringing a whiff of that gorgeous fragrance to the summer air. I t was a scent not unlike the blended fragrance of wild citrus, patchouli and native cedar that abound here in the nearby forest… with a hint of the seductive masculine musk. Your scent however is the kind that vanishes quickly into thin air the notes of which are like hues of a faint rainbow elusive and ephemeral.

Go before you see my heart.

Photo : Alma Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, 2014