Saturday, June 20, 2009


To this day, many people still think that the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was an Apple. Could this have been started by an American? The Apple is never mentioned in the Bible and is referrred to only as the forbidden fruit. However, the Koran is more specific in saying that the forbidden fruit was a Banana. Now, as to what type of Banana it was, a lacatan or a latundan? Well, we better just inquire from our Moslem brothers. The Apple is just one of many fruit varieties that have originated with the common blooming rose. Others include the Pear, Peach, Plum, Apricot and Cherry. Many fruits can be traced only to their discovery by explorers. The Lime, for example, wasn't identified until the 17th century, when sailors traveling to the New World drank its juice to prevent scurvy, a malady caused by Vitamin C deficiency. Since then - and to this day, citrus fruits have attracted a large cultish following as wellsprings of vitality and good health. Among them, Oranges, Grapefruits and Tangerines. However, gourmands in many places prefer Kiwis, Kumquats and Mangoes. Yes, Mangoes - and the Philippine type is king. The best Mangoes are said to come from Guimaras, an island in Southern Philippines. And then, we have the Coconut, an unbeatable source of several useful items. An edible pulp, a refreshing sweet milk that can quench even the toughest thirst, and a valuable oil ideal for making margarine, soap, and suntan lotion. The fibers from the Coconut husk itself are used in fashioning rope, and the tree's trunk is a valuable type of wood used for building huts and fences. Cocolumber is an essential by-product of the Coconut tree and is very popular in the furniture industry. And then we have the legendary Fig, which is also deeply rooted in the story of the Garden of Eden, where its leaves were believed to have clothed Adam and Eve after their fateful meal. Figs and Dates provided sustenance for the early Greeks, and the trees of both remain heavily cultivated today along the Eastern Mediterranean. But the most celebrated local fruit of all is of a political variety, and can be found in abundance inside the Batasan Complex. The English name for it escapes me for now, but the Balimbing is an "honorable" fruit, if you ask me. And, to add injury to insult, the more rotten, the more acceptable since it is always in good company. Just recently, these forbidden political fruits have been creating many jams, so to speak, and the latest is affixing their signatures to transform the House into a Constituent Assembly a.ka. Con-Ass. These fruits need to be processed to a pulp and then preserved forever as a reminder of how bad a bunch of fruits can be - in season or out of season.

Friday, June 19, 2009


We all have a pet-peeve. One of my top pet-peeve is, well, getting in line at the Ayala (Alabang) Town Center branch of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). Observe, as you enter the bank, you right away have that unmistakable feeling of being like "sheep for the slaughter." There, two types of bank customers are immediately identified and classified. The first type, in which I belong to, are the ordinary customers who bank tellers always assume have all the time in the world to spare (and to waste). The second type - as the bank puts it by prominently displaying a sign right above teller #4, are "PREFERRED CLIENTS ONLY," or Gold Card holders. So, right away if you're just a holder of a regular blue and white BPI card, that sign immediately tells you that you're somewhat UNPREFERRED, and the bank simply wants you to know that you're not that important, so get in line to the left like the rest of the small time depositors. This is indeed a failing mark for BPI when it comes to public relations, and I'm quite certain that the same signs are present in all its branches nationwide. It's enough that while we're all in line for long periods of time, "Preferred Clients" take only a few minutes to transact their businesses with the wide-eyed tellers. And, to add a dash of salt to an already fresh wound, if you're a "Preferred Client," you're even allowed to use your cellular phone even if it's prohibited to do so while in the bank premises. On the other hand, if you are simply an "unpreferred" client, the guard on duty will surely make a quick gesture at you for even just reading an abbreviated text message on your phone. I wonder, to the bank robbers out there, would they have a list of "Preferred Banks" too?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I found myself on a bus headed for Tagaytay City one fine morning. Unplanned and unprepared for this "balikan" trip, I nevertheless expected to be treated with the splendid scenery I was about to see again. The main tourist treat of Tagaytay is the captivating panoramic view of the natural beauty of Taal Volcano, (minus the eyesore that is the Korean spa) the smallest volcano in the world. Taal Lake is home to two delectable rare species of fish, the maliputo and the tawilis. In spite of the nearness to Metro Manila, Tagaytay has a unique rustic atmosphere and an invigorating cool climate. This is perhaps why many tourists do not only want to visit the place, but opt to hold seminars, conferences and retreats in the city. Complementing the natural endowment are several tourist establishments.

Legend has it that the word "Tagaytay" came from Taga meaning "to cut" and Itay which means "Father." One day, a father and a son were said to be on a wild boar hunt when the animal they were chasing turned towards them and attacked them. As the boar headed for the old man, the son cried, "Taga, Itay!" The lad's repeated shouts echoed in the valleys of the ridge. Heard the by local inhabitants, hunters and wood gatherers, the cries became the subject of conversation for several days amongst the people in the countryside. In time, the place where the shouts came from became known as Tagaytay.

During the Philippine Revolution of 1896, the ridges and forests of Tagaytay became the sanctuary for revolutionaries, including for those from nearby provinces. The passage to and from towns via Tagaytay added the word Mananagaytay. To the native's vocabulary, it means "to traverse ridges." At the outbreak of the 2nd World War, the 11th Airborne Division of Lt. Gen. William Krueger's 8th Army airdropped military supplies and personnel on the Tagaytay Ridge prior to the liberation of Manila from the Japanese. A marker was thus installed in 1951 at the junction of the Manila-Canlubang-Nasugbu Roads by city officials in coordination with the National Historical Institute (NHI). Tagaytay became a chartered city on June 21, 1938 when President Manuel L. Quezon signed Commonwealth Act No. 338, a bill authored by then Rep. Justiniano Montano of Cavite.

Even before I had savored enough the impromptu road trip, it was already time to return home, with the self-promise that I shall be back soon, this time prepared with a notebook, a pencil and a camera.

(In memory of my good friend, the late Dr. Edgar "Doki" Laurena)