If your’re wondering what’s the point showing you in the immediately preceding blog entry a few of the fruit trees and vegetables we have grown in the backyard right here in Anaheim, California, it’s simply to state the obvious about those from Bangui or those who grew up in there in particular and most of the Ilocanos regarding their old food habits in general. These are folks who moved out of Ilocandia who pine for the old fruits and vegetables that they got used to when they were growing up.
Unlike the Philippines where the weather actually favors growing most fruit trees and vegetables all year round, we in these parts go through these severe weather extremes–hot in the summer and icy cold in the winter making backyard gardening a real challenge. Yet we try to do everything to not run out of our favorite tropical fruits and vegetables. Even as we brought the red mombin (sarguelas) completely shorn of its leaves inside the house to prevent it from dying due to the occasional frost, a few tropical fruit trees and vegetables actually survive the winter. Our oranges, pumelo and mandarins ripen in the winter. Our calamansi and chico bears fruits all year round. Our Carribean papaya planted in May three years ago has large fruits right now. Even the balimbing fruits are trying to hang in there in spite of the wicked Santa Ana winds. The parda, sweet pea and sayote thrive in the winter, and you can grow lasona and garlic in the cold as well.
The Ilocanos in Hawaii have it much better because aside from their rather warm and mild climate, they’ve got the rains every now and then–I believe they don’t have to worry much about watering their plants. Every Ilocano in Hawaii seems to have a backyard garden such that there seems to be very few Asian groceries over there selling produce.
Fact is, for us Ilocanos who have moved out of our communities in Ilocandia–our drive to grow our own tropical fruits and vegetables has an added benefit, namely, it helps trim the family budget for food. The savings may or may not be that significant. But the fresh produce from the backyard with a minimum of time and money invested is, well, priceless!
Now a flashback to Bangui. I was there in March last year when it was warm already. I visited a few homes and I was surprised by the desire of some to cultivate euphorbia and some orchids in their backyards–but no vegetables. Most of the houses have mangoes; some have chicos and a few others. BUT NO VEGETABLES! When they need the veggies, they go to the public market. Or they rely on the old seasonal alocon that’s been growing in the wild (not planted). Didn’t see many marunggay or catuday trees, nor camote, saluyot, winged beans (pal-lang), lima beans (patani) or parda growing in their backyards. I found out that the old habit of waiting for the monsoon rains to wake up the saluyot seeds scattered in the wild the previous year still persists.
How would you go about changing our old iBangui habits and encourage our townsfolk to start puttering in their backyards and bring them alive with their own fruit trees and vegetables? From the family budget angle? How about the fresh produce and convenience angles?
Wish we have the likes of Warren Buffett who, growing up in the Great Deppression in spartan beginnings in Omaha, Nebraska, to become a mega billionaire, could teach us how to save and invest a few pennies here and there and snowball the effort into something bigger–even only modestly, like backyard gardening to help trim the family food budget.