Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ploughing the Fields

I ventured out into the rice fields today as I saw many farmers tilling their land in preparation for palay (rice) planting. The process in the Philippines is known as "nag aararo" and the Philippine water buffalo or carabao is used. The carabao does most of the brute strength work, all you or the farmer has to do is direct or keep the carabao in line. And of course you're going to get dirty. You're going to be treading through mud and manure. It can also be a bit difficult if your carabao is disobedient, stubborn, or a little wild. This particular farmer was a little hesitant at first to let me try it out because he said that his carabao is "tarantado" or a bastard, but he let me give it a go anyway.

After that I went coconut tree climbing. It was a nice view from the top. I remember as a child seeing old concrete walls with green algae so I took a photo. I am told that the pink growth I am pointing at on the grass are eggs of suso or snails. I also took a photo of a nearby fish pond. Tilapia or bangus (milk fish) is what is typically raised in fish ponds here in the Philippines. These farm-raised fish are usually more fatty than their wild counterparts, but I'm not sure they are healthier. Just like free-range chickens are healthier than the cooped-up chickens (like the 45 days chicken), I think wild fish is healthier than farm-raised (antibiotics, pcbs, other toxins, etc...).

Now that it is the rainy season, sometimes there is no choice but to cross through flooded areas (the things floating in that canal I crossed is manure). Also, it is much harder "mag gatong" or build a fire for cooking. I usually cook rice or anything that requires a fairly long boil by "gatong" since it is cheaper, although it is much more difficult now during the rainy season. I built that fire in the photos using buho (bamboo), paper, and matches. It took quite a few tries getting that fire going as the buho was wet from the rain. I cooked some rice (about 1 gatang - a unit of measure for cooking rice) on that fire. For about 1 gatang, the water needs to exceed the level of rice by a certain amount (depende kung gaanong kaalsa ang kanin). This amount can vary depending on the rice's absorption of the water as some types of rice absorb more water than others. You just have to experiment.

Also, I took some photos of some flowers. These flowers are the gumamela (hibiscus), santan (honey suckle), and sampaguita (jasmine). I remember these flowers well as a child. The gumamela was always fun to mess with because of the exotic look of its parts. The santan I used to pluck the pistil (I think) and sip the nectar. And my cousins and I used to play a game where we pitik or flick the petals of the santan to see who could pitik more of the petals off. The sampaguita, the national flower of the Philippines, is still the most aromatic flower I have ever smelled. It is commonly used in the Philippines in making necklaces for special occasions (such as school graduations) or for hanging on the altar or rosary. I also remember being told when I was a child a folktale about the sampaguita and gumamela. If I recall correctly, personification was used because the flowers were given human characteristics. I just can't remember how the story goes...


bert said...

How did your "kanin" turned out? Years ago, I saw a climber in Lingayen climbed up a coconut tree with the help of rubber band wrapped around his ankles for added grip. Is that necessary for safety or just a hindrance?

Ernesto said...

Hi coconuter! I'm sorry to hear about the break in at your place. Its great that you were able to track down your camera. I showed your sight to my friends and they thought that what your doing is admirable. It must be really tough but it seems like your enjoying your stay there. Anyway, my friends and I are visiting the Philippines late October and based on your previous pictures, it seems like your staying close to the city where we will be spending a few days in. It would be great to meet you in a person, we'll take you out for lunch or dinner and you can share your experience so far. By the way, what size shirt do you wear I might be able to bring some extra clothes that you can have. You can check out my blog and leave me a message if your interested in meeting up.

juantamad said...

you have to be the best-looking farm hand in all of the philippines!

i'm just curious... you've been here for some months and though immersing yourself in rural life is not a bad thing, i don't really see it as a good plan to succeed in the PHL. what's your plan?

Ramil said...

Am glad you are back!! What happened to you lately should serve you a lesson: undesirable constituents are everywhere. So better beware.

We have a little farm in Nueva Ecija and just like you, I had my share of experiences to tell about tilling the land, planting and harvesting the palay and selling them afterwards. My granfather used to teach me how to use the carabao in the pag-a-araro (tilling the land) but i have to admit honestly that I never learned. I was just so sickly and thin at that time that I have to just concentrate on helping my parents in planting and harvesting (pag-a-ani) the palay. The carabao might just drag me, hehe! By the way, carabaos are now seldom used due to the presence of new(?) technologies. Able farmers now have their own tractors or kuliglig(smaller version of tractors ran by a generator)to use in tilling their farm lands. My wife and I visited my parents in Nueva Ecija last Saturday. You are right, farmers are now very vusy in their farms. For them, rainy season is the best time of the year because this is the only chance to cultivate their lands especially for those who are just depending on the rain. Lucky are those who are privileged with irrigation system.

Keep posting!

dave said...

very cool site! kudos!

asnallar said...

Wow, lots of photos in your blog! I guess because yours is a travelogue... haha ;-) Mine only has text, and I've decided it should stay that way... Weird me.

There was manure in the mud??? I would freak out if I stepped on it. (I don't know if you have one, but) you should do a TV show about your adventures!

P.S. Everytime I hear or read the word "manure", I wanna watch Back to the Future again. I love that movie!

Joaquin Zamora said...

i admire your tenacity. you've done more than the average filipino can do in their lifetime. kudos....be safe..take care..and enjoy the experience.

bench said...

hi there. saw your blog as i was browsing through the site. i have to say i truly enjoyed your blog! are you still in the philippines?

Bryanboy said...

Are you still alive?

Anonymous said...

Hi!!! when is your next update?

toto gonzalez said...

am impressed!!! you're in for the genuine filipino rural experience, and that's absolutely admirable!!!

chuck the "lean" moments! with your credentials, you could easily be top management in any corporation here!!! but then, would you really? i think not!
*impressed and incredulous*

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

I'm curious now as to what you are really doing in the Philippines. I happen to bump into all of the blogs that you have created. A dozen or so of them 16 of them to be exact. What gives? I mean, do you have to travel to Manila and create 16 blogs?

I checked some of them and they range from pandesal to kupido to whatever else. You're even selling services as business startups and everything. Wow, you can't seem to decide on what to do.

So, what are you up to really?

Coconuter said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for the comment.

"I'm curious now as to what you are really doing in the Philippines. I
happen to bump into all of the blogs that you have created. A dozen or
so of them 16 of them to be exact. What gives? I mean, do you have to
travel to Manila and create 16 blogs?"
Wow, you question me as if I am an illegal immigrant and am doing
something malicious. Why don't you take a visit to where I live here
so that you have first-hand proof of what I do here. I'll even
document it and place it on my web site to serve as proof for everyone
else who is scrutinous, incredulous, suspicious, and whatnot. Now
onto to my reply to your comment. You "bumped" into all of the blogs
that I have created? That's quite difficult to do as all of the blogs
that I have created are no longer maintained except for this
one--"Coconuter". I think you must have been on my blog profile and
then "bumped" into all of them on that one page. "What gives?" you
say. Well, I created these blogs before even leaving the US when I
was brainstorming on what I wanted to maintain, and I decided on
Coconuter and it is the only blog I maintain. If you are going to be
scrutinous and question me like this, please be very scrutinous and
check everything out. In other words, you failed to note the latest
entries on the blogs, otherwise you would have known that they are not
being maintained. "I mean, do you have to travel to Manila and create
16 blogs?" No, and reread what I just said above. I only maintain
Coconuter. The rest are unmaintained and the only reason I have not
deleted them is because most of them contain useful information and
serve to bring traffic to Coconuter.

"I checked some of them and they range from pandesal to kupido to
whatever else. You're even selling services as business startups and
everything. Wow, you can't seem to decide on what to do."
Actually, No, I don't sell any services as business startups. I don't
have the funds to offer a service as a business startup. The blogs
range from photos of the Philippines, to Filipino recipes, to current
Philippine weather, time, and foreign exchange rates, to Philippine
history, to Philippine literature, to Philippine trivia, and more. I
promote the Philippines and that is what I wanted to show through my
blogs. But as I said, they are no longer maintained, but do have some
useful and/or interesting information. They are all open to the
And actually, I have decided on what to do. Hence, "Coconuter" was created.

"So, what are you up to really?"
Well, stay tuned to "Coconuter" at http://coconuter.blogspot.com to
see what I am up to. Oh, and what are you up to Anonymous? Or more
specifically, what was your intention with this comment to me?

Thanks for the comment!

AHR said...

hi David
I watched you at MAy Nagmamahal at Channel 2. it bother though why you came here in Phil. but I admired you, you chose a path and good luck.sinunod mo ang puso mo. GOD BLESS ALWAYS>

Ajae said...

hi.. just want to say that your blog and ol ur experiences are awe-inspiring. I'm deeply moved wid ol d stories u've shared and i admire ur courage to go on and pursue wid wat u're beleiving despite of many hindrances (esp. money matters). I'm already 21 but i can't imagine how will i manage to live the way u did, especially when you're not used to it at all. U're really a survivor.
Lyk u, there is a path that i wud lyk to cross, that's why i believed that all of us have a built-in compass to help us get to wherever we desire to go, we should keep trusting that compass, for wid dat trust will come d strenght to bear whatever lyf deals us...
Know what? i think u're real purpose is to touch other person's lives through ur experiences... you're articles and photographs are really inspiring why not take it to a higher level? You can be a journalist or a media man... I always dreamed of being one. What do u think?
Nwei, I love what u do, u're such a free-spirit!
Good luck! God SPeed!

Anonymous said...

ganyan din yung nilalaro namin ng mga kapatid ko dati! pinipitik hanggang maubusan ng petal!

Anonymous said...

Hi...Can I ask for some referrals?..I have a 12yr old native carabao (BUFFY) and she gave birth two months ago to Barbie..I am selling the carabao & calf bec. our vegetable farm closed down.....You might know some interested farmers /buyers?...the carabao is in Imus Cavite..kindly email me at vixlaplana@yahoo.com..thanks and nice site....

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