Meeting Mabolo-A A +A
By Betsy Gazo
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
THE mabolo tree is one tree that has been neglected for years now. I remember seeing its fruits sold at sidewalks when I was younger. Maybe, it’s the fuzz that covers the reddish-brown fruit, or perhaps the strong sickly cheesy smell when the fruit ripens that turns people off.
Whatever it is, the mabolo is not a popular fruit nor is it sold in wet markets anymore. Along with the tiesa, the Filipinos have forgotten the mabolo, a fruit tree indigenous to the Philippines.
For the readers who have never seen a mabolo fruit at all, let me direct you to the one and only mabolo tree at the Bacolod Public Plaza, at the corner of Gonzaga and San Juan Streets. The tree is at its fruiting stage and its few fruits are turning a reddish hue.
Somewhere around that area is watch-your-car boy Edgardo Estilo who looks upon the tree with affection for at countless times had his hunger pangs been assuaged by the mabolo fruit. Dressed in hip-hop street style, Edgardo’s youthful fashion sense belies his aging countenance. It is his years that make him wiser in the ways of the mabolo. Sensing my interest in the tree, he readily gives me information on the fruit’s curative properties.
Edgardo said that mabolo is a diuretic. “Indi ko, day, kapangihi, ah, kan-an ko lang mabolo.”
Hmmm… Here’s another claim he makes which will interest many a man: the fruit, peeled, its flesh rubbed on bald spots encourages hair growth. It wasn’t long when a few male passers-by stopped to listen and made sure they got it right.
“Yes, it’s true,” says our, ahem, resource speaker who was enjoying the attention, “Mr. So-and-So tried it and it worked for him upon my recommendation. New hair growth was noticed after a month.”
And, believe it or not, some couple who was childless for ten years produced an heiress after eating the fruit.
Edgardo’s “prescription” was given jokingly which the husband and wife tried out anyway. The baby girl they had as a result of the wife’s sudden fertility was named “Mabolo”.
Ay, anak ng mabolo! Edgardo’s tale may seem tall but it makes for interesting conversation. Yet, we have people swearing that mabolo is an aphrodisiac. Perhaps someone should nail a board to the tree trunk and write “No approved therapeutic claim” on it.
The mabolo (Diospyros blancoi) is also known as velvet apple or butter fruit. It is also the source of kamagong wood, a dark ironwood and made into furniture, knife handles, pistol handles, and even hair combs. This endangered species is protected so that it is illegal to export its wood until after one obtains permission from the Bureau of Forestry.
The almost perfectly round fruit which tastes like a cross between an apple and banana contains protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins A and C, niacin, thiamine, iron, calcium and phosphorus. It is anti-diarrheal, antiasthma, and antioxidant.
It’s not only the plaza that has a mabolo tree growing on it, thank goodness. At the corner of Gatuslao Street just across the Organic Market where the Puericulture Center is are two mabolo trees. And if one faces the Capitolyo, a mabolo grows near the steps to the right. All are bearing fruit.
Do you want to plant one? Wait until the fruits are ripe. Chances are these will fall on the ground and left there to rot. So, that’s your chance to plant one in your backyard. Just make you there’s enough space for the future branches to spread because the mabolo is a shade tree, its shiny oblong leaves thick enough to provide some cool spot someday to take respite under.
If your timing is off, go to the DOLE (Dept. of Labor and Employment) along Cottage Road where the LTO (Land Transportation Office) is for chances are Gevalen Beroncal could be found tending to seedlings for sale.
The mabolo is one of those trees she propagates along with other fruit trees such as langka (jackfruit), and babana (sour sop or guyabano), trees grown for its wood (mahogany, teak, gmelina), and some herbs as well. Text her (0921-5360432) for inquiries.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 29, 2013.