Dita Tree

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Dita tree along the mountain trail in the village of Santa Barbara, Bulusan

Oya Choleng, a local villager from Santa Barbara is always enthusiastic in touring me around her village. Almost 78 years old this year but she still has the stamina of a 48 year-old woman. I always smile whenever she would introduce me to her village mates as the ‘pararetrato’ or photographer of  assorted wild plants with this additional quip : “she is sending these photographs abroad.” This is easier for her to understand than telling her that my photos are intended for my blogs.

With this in mind,  she would point at a tree. flowering plants and other flora growing in the vicinity of her mountain village automatically reciting the local name with accompanying anecdotes and indigenous knowledge about the plant or tree.

In one of our village treks, we passed by a beautifully patterned tree and before I could asked the name, she identified it as ‘Dita’ with this eerie information: The Dita tree is the wood of choice for making coffins when somebody dies in her village. When I asked her why, she answered that she does not know why  but it is a traditional local practice  even in the neighboring villages — all outlying mountain villages.

I ventured a guess: maybe the dita wood is easier to work with, softer than the other woods and still abundant. The thought that the Dita tree is sometimes associated with spirits makes sense too. Nonetheless, I was transfixed looking up the canopy of the Dita tree with my eyes following the sun’s rays that seemed to dance as it meet my eyes in the mesmerizing pattern of the branches and leaves.

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Dita tree showing its impressive pattern of lateral branches

Photos: Alma P. Gamil Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

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My Cloud Gallery

I am a cloud spotter. I hunt unusual cloud formations near my location – Bulusan. My usual cloud spotting adventure begins the moment I step out of my room– in the azotea to be exact.

Since I am home most of the time, all I have to do is look to my right and above the roofless azotea anytime of the day. Although the complete view is hindered by the roof edges of the poblacion’s residential buildings, I still manage to get some unusual cloud formations above the mountains and hills that form the backdrop on the west side of the town.

The east side of the poblacion where I reside has an expansive Pacific Ocean horizon. An entirely different panorama. To hunt the clouds here I have to walk to the ocean’s edge which is only minutes away for more unexpected cloud show. But sometimes the front window facing the east offers some cloud surprises too.

I am always on the look out for clouds above the fields and hills during my jeepney rides. I love the way clouds change its colors dramatically at the time of the setting of the sun behind the hills and mountains on the west side. The shifting intensity is like a real time-lapse scenes unraveling before my very eyes spreading a blanket of its colored reflection on anything on the ground. Pure wondrous sight. In moments like these, my shutter is on a frenzied mode.

Here are some of my cloud spottings.

Massive lenticular cloud formation above Mt. Bulusan

Massive lenticular cloud formation above Mt. Bulusan

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The west sky view as viewed from our azotea in Poblacion Central.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Saint Raphael: Angel of Joy

My visit to the Saint Raphael Church in Legazpi City yesterday (October 24) was not planned. I went to the city of Legazpi to do some errand for my aging mother. But the office where I was supposed to go was close. I was told the city is on a one day holiday because October 24 is a fiesta in this part of Legazpi City – the port district with Saint Raphael as their patron saint.

For me, fiesta means a visit to the patron saint’s image at the church celebrating it. Thus I immediately changed my direction to the streets leading me to the shortest path where the church is located. And as fast as my walking pace could go I traversed the city blocks finding the church of Saint Raphael easily.

It was around 2:00 PM but the devotees and visitors could still be seen at the church’s premises coming and going lighting candles near the entrance of the church.

After I made my offerings of lighted candles and said my prayers I took these souvenir photos of Saint Raphael, one of my most loved saints.

Saint Raphael in the litany of prayers to the saint is honored as the angel of joy. It is said that Saint Raphael delights in bringing happiness everywhere he goes.

Bas relief of Saint Raphael at the facade of Saint Raphael Church in Legazpi City

Bas relief of Saint Raphael at the facade of Saint Raphael Church in Legazpi City

Saint Raphael, Patron saint of Legazpi City Port District inside the Saint Raphael Church in Legazpi City

Saint Raphael, Patron saint of Legazpi City Port District

Saint Raphael the Archangel Church in Legazpi City

Saint Raphael the Archangel Church in Legazpi City

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Related post:

https://bulusanruralvagabond.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/saint-of-happy-meetings-and-endings/

Kalunggay

 

Moringa oleifera

Moringa oleifera

Moringa oleifera a.k.a. malunggay

Moringa oleifera a.k.a. malunggay

Smiling malunggay/kalunggay

Smiling malunggay/kalunggay

Moringa oleifera. Malunggay (Tagalog). Kalunggay (Bikol Bulusan)

I personally tested the oft-reproduced characterization made many years ago by the Trees for Life organization, that “ounce-for-ounce, Moringa leaves contain more Vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more Vitamin C than oranges, and more potassium than bananas,” and that the protein quality of Moringa leaves rivals that of milk and eggs.

This is good news for many of us who do not have the capacity to buy the nutritious foods mentioned as comparison. Malunggay locally known as Kalunggay in Bulusan  is a natural multivitamins available for free usually  from a neighbor’s fence. But we did plant our own sustainable supply at the back of our house.

Kalunggay is so ubiquitous in Bulusan that almost all the village backyard gardens has one or two growing within the garden or as border plant.

The good thing about cultivating kalunggay is the fact that it is so easy to grow.

Just ask from your neighbor a wrist-sized branch of Kalunggay and let it stand for a while in a sunny nook in your yard. When the shoots are starting to show in the standing branch, this signals that it is the right time to plant the stem cutting in your backyard or fence. Be sure to pick a sunny spot in your garden that is open to the sun the whole day.

That is my technique. Others plant the freshly cut matured branch of the kalunggay immediately upon cutting.  I tried this too with the same success.

Most important factor is the sun. Kalunggay is  sun-loving and like to grow on their own after planting. No need to water. Natural rainfall is enough for them.

For an authentic Bulusan recipe of Kinunot using Kalunggay as the main vegetable ingredient, you may visit my townmate’s Pamughaton post: http://pamughaton.wordpress.com/2008/07/26/kinunot/

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Blue epiphany

“Some things we have only as long as they remain lost, some things are not lost only so long as they are distant.”

~Rebecca Solnit

This poetic phrase haunted me for several days and only after rereading the link below for several times it finally sank in. It remained in  my mind because it resonates much with my personal milieu. The scientific basis only adds up to its philosophical depth.

I am now at last comfortable with the blue.

Late afternoon in Dancalan Beach, Bulusan

Late afternoon in Dancalan Beach, Bulusan

Recommended read:

http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/08/20/rebecca-solnit-blue/

Photo: Alma P. Gamil

Happy and gray

Our town has quite a number of elderly population. So it’s not a surprise that the elderly week celebration was a big day in town. I was curious with what kind of activity these active seniors will whip up for the day’s event (October 11) hence this photo docu.

After the short parade with the youthful drum and lyre corps from a local high school, the participating senior citizens from the different villages proceeded at once to snack time while the DLC performs at the center of the cultural sports building. This made me take photos of some seniors. Many were wearing native costumes of kimona paired with saya, a loose printed long skirt. Some however prefer costumes that range from formal gown to Halloween costume (photo). The male seniors were obviously more ‘behave’ than the female seniors preferring to just sit or stand quietly observing the events.

Noticeable also was the fact that there were more women attendees than men. This does not necessarily mean that elderly men died ahead of their  wives. The most likely reason is that the women seniors in Bulusan are more outgoing and tend to be more sociable than their husbands.

It felt nice seeing the elderly having some fun and be young again even for a day! However, my mother, already 87 this year opted to just stay at home. She is the introvert kind.

Elderly queen from San Vicente

Elderly queen from the village of San Vicente

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Slow life

Don’t be misled by the seemingly boring life of this country snail. This snail’s life is anything but boring — seen here feasting on lemongrass.

Lemongrass is an exciting ‘spice’ that adds zest to local culinary dishes from ‘ginataan’ (cooked in coconut milk) to lechong manok (roasted chicken).

Feast of lemongrass in a backyard garden, San Roque, Bulusan

Feast of lemongrass in a backyard garden, San Roque, Bulusan                                                                                                                                                      

The stalks and young leaves of lemongrass can be made into a refreshing drink. The drink is a refrigerant. It makes you feel cool literally.

Photo: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Market day mosaic

Saud is how we refer to market day  in our town. Held twice weekly every Saturday and Wednesday at the plaza (public market), these events always have the feel of a weekend market rural style where every kind of merchandise appear from villages and nearby towns and provinces. Some are just plain utilitarian while some are simply kitch. From farm tools to folk remedies on common ailments, condiments, local vegetables and fruits and ukay-ukay (second-hand clothes) are to be found in separate corners of the plaza grounds that occupy the streets fronting the public market.

Here are some of my snaps during  my  two consecutive saud visits.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines