Pacete: Plant raiders in the wilderness

As I see it

YOU must have seen movies like "Tomb Raider" starring Angelina Jolie or "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with Harrison Ford as the lead actor. In both movies, the lead performers were so passionate in pursuing their objectives despite of the so many rumbles along the way.

Under the reign of Covid-19, many netizens could not just go out to the malls or do beach strolling because the virus scare is apparent. Many have considered to improve their front yard and backyard gardens. They started to personally propagate ornamental plants or buy online from friends.

Ornamental plants are plants that are grown for decorative purposes in garden and landscape design projects. The cultivation of ornamental plants is known as floriculture, and a person whose hobby or job is growing flowers and veggies is known as a gardener. To be a gardener, one must have the curiosity, tenacity, creativity and passion.

The usual practice in the past of garden enthusiasts was to buy ornamental plants from the garden clubs but now the trend seems to change. The barter trade has an open acceptance wherein friends could exchange their pots, sacks of organic fertilizer or spam with plants. The giving of gift could now be expressed amorously by offering plants.

The craze motivated some plant aficionados to become plant raiders in the wilderness. In the process, they become plant thieves or plant poachers. They bring their vehicles near the river bank to espy on the "badyang" plants. When their targets are identified, scooping follows thus damaging the environment to the max. Garden artists call "badyang" as elephant ear because of the shape of the leaves.

The cut portion of the "badyang" produces a sticky sap that could cause extreme itchiness if it touches your skin. In our Hiligaynon we call it "makatol" (itchy). That is why "badyang" is also known as "biga" (sexual itch). That could be unfair but that is what it connotes. Society is unfair but if you don't want to have that sexual itch, stay away from "badyang". Let the plants grow in their habitat if you don't want to be called "son or daughter of the itch". (It doesn't sound good if translated in Hiligaynon.)

After "badyang" comes "pakol" as the next target of the raiders. "Pakol" is also known as "saging lisohan". It is super sweet when ripe but loaded with seeds just like the shotgun pellets. This is the staple food of the monkeys and they grow abundantly near the riverbanks in the upland area. "Pakol" could be a naughty word also. Monkeys do their "pakol" on top of the "lisohan". To "pakol" is to hit with a hatchet and male monkeys have their hatchets.

Farmers expanding their farms cut the bananas. They are now almost extinct and they are the targets of the raiders to become part of their rare collection. We are warning the poachers to stop their illegal deed if they don't want to violate DENR laws. We motivate the farmers to plant more "lisohan" as food for the monkeys. If the monkeys are hungry, they will be forced to go down to the nearest subdivisions to steal food from your kitchen. That could be their "monkey purge."

We do not want your village to become planet of the apes. Monkeys are well organized with leaders, soldiers, and servants serving the monkey boss. In 1987, my friend Leo Canson and I were sent by Mayor Bigot Velez to investigate the monkey riot in Sitio Patag Diutay in Silay. Monkeys in battalion were harvesting the corn of the farmers. Our attention was called by Vic Mercado in his "Mercado Publico" radio program. We submitted a report that planters in the area should stop cutting "lisohan," plant more stalks and meantime share their corn to the monkeys.

We want to protect also our birds' nest, Jurassic ferns, blue cogon, huya-huya, tino-tino, maria-maria, alibutbot, manunggal, dap-dap, buto-buto, buyo-buyo and kalong-kalong. Even amor sico now is being hunted. It is a special dollar plant if it reaches America and Europe.

We also suggest to our legitimate garden friends that other than cactus, gabi-gabi and crotons, they have to plant also malunggay, papaya, alogbate, beans, squash and ampalaya. No nutritionist yet has endorsed cactus salad, baked gabi-gabi and croton soup.

Be a gardener without becoming a plant thief. Sustain your hobby and become an environmentalist. Remember that life is a process of give and take. The wilderness belongs to the wild. Let the wild scratch their own itch and bury their hatchets. Do not intrude by becoming a plunderer. Just enjoy planting while the ground is wet.


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