Thursday, November 20, 2014

Folk Wisdom for Kids: 10 Practical Lessons for Growing up

Folk Wisdom for Kids: 10 Practical Lessons for Growing up   
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

1. Trapping frogs
It was fun to trap frogs when I was a kid. At harvest time I would dig holes in the ricefield around one and one-half feet deep. The frogs seek shelter in these holes because they need water and a cool place. Insects that fall into the hole attract them and become their prey.

Early in the morning I would make my rounds, harvesting the trapped frogs.   The frog is skinned, its entrails removed, and cooked with tomato, onion, and achuete (Bixa orellana). Frogs make a favorite dish, especially among Ilocanos. 

2.  Old folks use garlic as insecticide. 
Garlic is useful as an insecticide by planting beside crops you intend to protect, and by making a spray solution from its cloves. The simple method is to soak crushed garlic cloves in water and then spray or sprinkle the solution on plants attacked by aphids, mites, caterpillars, and other pests.

This is another method. Soak approximately 100 grams of chopped garlic cloves in about 50 ml of mineral oil (turpentine or kerosene) or cooking oil for 24 hours.  This is then slowly mixed with 500 ml of water in which 20 grams of powdered natural soap (Perla or Ivory) has been dissolved. Soap serves an emulsion, that is, to make oil and water miscible.  Stir well and strain with an old undershirt or nylon stocking, then store the filtrate in earthen or glass container.  This serves as mother stock, ready for use, diluting it one part to twenty parts of water, or down to one part per hundred. It is reputed to be effective insecticide against most common garden pests.

3. “Gibba” keeps cooked rice longer. Whatever is the explanation why rice cooked in a pot previously heated with a pinch of salt will not spoil fast is beyond scientific explanation.  Yet it is common knowledge in the rural area.  This is what housewives do. The call the process “gibba,” literary, to heat at extreme temperature like firing clay in a furnace. Put a pinch of salt in the cooking pot - aluminum or clay pot, heat until the salt disappears.  Cooked rice as usual in the pot.   This will prevent rice from getting spoiled in a short time.  

4. Place a pinch of salt on the cover of the pot while rice is boiling.  This technique shortens cooking time. (Lesson from my sister Manang Veny, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur, affirmed by Tinong Viernes, a good friend.).

5. Smudging induces flowering of fruit trees and protects fruits from pests. 
This is a common practice on many common fruit trees, especially mango. Old folks gather dried leaves, grass, rice hull, corn stalk and the like, and burn them slowly under the trees.  The smoke is directed to the branches and leaves early every morning until flowers come out, and is later resumed to protect the fruits from insects and fungi. Smudging is preferred over potassium nitrate spraying used to force mangoes to flower out of season.  Repeated chemical spraying reduces the life span of the tree, which is not the case in smudging.

7. Leaves of madre de cacao or kakawate hasten the ripening of fruits.
  Old folks use fresh leaves of Gliricida sepium to ripen banana, papaya, mango, chico, guyabano, atis, avocado, and others. The fruits are placed in an earthen jar lined with  kakawate leaves. The jar is closed or inverted in order to trap the ethylene gas that catalyses the softening of pectin and the conversion of complex to simple sugar that results in ripening which takes around three days. Unlike the commercial method of using carbide (carburo), kakawate ripened fruits, as long as they were picked at proper maturity, develop natural taste, color and aroma as if they were ripened on the tree.  
8.  Kamote or sweet potato builds gas in the stomach (flatulence).
In the province, whenever we failed to recite in class our teacher in the elementary would matter of fact, say, “Go home and plant kamote.” We also loved to sing or recite, hilariously that is, a verse associated with this humble plant. Years after, I realized how unfair it is to treat this important crop, which is a staple food of millions of people and a major animal feed in many parts of the world.  The verse/song goes like this.

“Kamote is a musical root;
The more you eat, the more you puut…
The more you putt…, the better you feel,
So eat kamote every meal.”

In defense of kamote,  the tuber or root is rich in Phosphorus (P2O5, 0.15%), Calcium (CaO, 0.13%), and Iron (Fe2O3, 0.02%) in addition to carbohydrate (8.41%) and protein (1.96 %).   These alleged gas-forming substances are also found in other root crops like cassava and taro (gabi), but in lesser quantities.  It is advisable to cook kamote very well, and that one should take it moderately. By the way, kamote tops contains an appreciable amount of hydrocyanic acid similar to that in cassava. Thus, when cooking it, it is advisable to bring it to boiling and allow the compound to escape as cyanogas by removing the pot cover.

9. Beware of bats.  Bats swoop on unwary people walking in the field or on the street.  Old folks warn us not to go out at dusk or at night - and never alone.
Bats, the only true flying mammals are perhaps the most misunderstood creatures because of their ugly looks and enigmatic life embellished with superstitious beliefs and associated with fiction such as the story of Dracula, a bloodthirsty count-vampire in the world of the undead. Movies, cartoons, and children’s stories have projected a bad image of bats, giving us the impression they are enemies of mankind.   

The truth is that bats are harmless, except for three known species called vampire bats that feed on the blood of animals. Seventy percent of the one thousand species of bats live on insects as their daily diet. One bat can devour 1000 mosquitoes in one hour. The bigger species eat on fruits (fruit bats). Insectivorous bats swoop down on flying insects in the dark which they detect by means of echolocation (natural radar) making it appear that they are attacking people when they get too close to them.

Bats are nature’s biological agents in controlling destructive insects.  They pollinate plants that bloom only in the night, and they are very efficient in disseminating seeds of many plants. By carrying out these functions bats are crucial in maintaining the ecological balance of fragile ecosystems like the desert and chaparral.  Their droppings accumulated for years in their cave dwellings make the best and safest organic fertilizer (guano).  Let us protect the bats instead; they are indeed man’s valuable friends.     

10. Malunggay (Moringa oleifera) supplement in noodles. Noodles are in various preparations: sotanghon, bihon, mami, pasta, others. Enterprises are producing malunggay supplemented noodles. 

Remedy for eye bag.  Pick a leaf of Aloe vera, cut it lengthwise, gather sap with  cotton ball, wipe around the eye bag before going to sleep.  Potato (Solanum tuburosum) is also effective.  Slice and wipe sap with cotton ball.  Apply around eye bag before retiring at night. (From Salamat Dok, March 29, 2009)

No comments: