Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday
Little Mackie and Gelyn enjoy the taste of the petite berries
Aratiles or datiles (mansanitas Ilk) - Muntigia calabura - is a favorite tree on the backyard and neighborhood, on vacant lots and parks. Actually nobody owns the tree; children just gather with stick, stone - or scamper into its branches and pick the ripe red berry. And pronto! straight to the mouth, spitting the spent skin there and then.
The tree is not theirs alone; birds like the perperroka (Ilk) pick the ripe fruits during the day, while fruit bats have their share in the night. But thanks to the prolific fruiting of this tropical tree which has become adapted in the Philippines after it was introduced from tropical America during the early Spanish period. Throughout the year the tree is without fruits in succession. You only see them when they turn yellow to golden, and finally to bright red ready to fall to the ground at the slightest disturbance.
That's why you have to be vigilant. If you miss a day to pick the ripe ones, your winged competitors will, or the fruits simply fall to be eaten by stray fowls, and goats. This prompted us at home to have a ready ladder to pick the fruits direct from the tree. Now and then children come to their delight. And once in a while we serve aratiles on the table - for a change.
If you have seen Castaway movie starring Tom Hanks, there is a part when he fitted some logs to make a raft to escape the island after four years of solitary living. Have you noticed the binding material he used as rope? That was stripped bark of aratiles. The bark has strong and pliable fibers like cotton. In fact the two belong to the same family - Malvaceae.
The aratiles tree is being left alone - wouldn’t man cultivate it like any crop? But you see, trees - and other organisms for that matter - are taken cared by Nature. In fact the advice of ecologists is to "leave nature alone." Better still, " Leave it to Nature." This is the key to the survival of species and the stability of the ecosystem where they live.
Strange that you find aratiles virtually everywhere, where the birds and animals are, so with the children. You see aratiles growing in all stages, sometimes forming a woodland. The other secret of its prolific nature is that the seeds - hundreds of them in a single fruit – remain viable in the digestive system to be disseminated far and wide. There after sometime you will be glad to see and listen to lilting kids in their finest hour of their childhood. ~