Saturday, September 5, 2009


Today my main event at my farm was planting the Mabolo tree as the
typhoon season comes to an end. The rain continues, but the Philippines will be going into the "cool season". The "ber" months of Septemeber, October, November and December usher in our brief springtime weather ranging from a high of 85F in October, to a cool 69F in late December. The ground is moist, and the soil is easy to till. This is an ideal condition for planting a new bed of lettuce, carrots, celery, cabbages, and starting plots of tomatos before the summer heat sets. The air becomes drier, and the temperatures soar to about 80-100F after Chinese New Year in late January or early February.

This is a photo of me doing what I normally do at my farm...get down and work with my plants. Betty Samson, her friend Fely and I act as the "godmothers" of this baby mabolo tree. Spot, the Dalmatian ,( lying comfortably on the grass beside Fely), and I ( wearing the hat). The Photo is being taken by Betty my friend ( not in this photo). Betty had donated the mabolo tree. I always have a "tree planting" ceremony, to record our contribution to reforestation of the hardwood and fruit trees in our area. The Cavite watershed forests in the uplands are fading fast. I have observed almost 15,000 hectares of forests have been cut down to make room for industrial sites, subdivisions, and golf clubs. The deforestation of the Philippine countryside is alarming!

There are few mabolos left in the forest. This mabolo tree is one of the rare rainforest tropical hardwood tree with edible fruit. Mabolo is locally called "kamagong", or "ebony" in Africa;and it is a rare , native  Philippine teakwood. Furniture made with Kamagong wood is prized by those who collect antiques. In most parts of the country, the older trees of this variety have almost become extinct. I think this is why the name of this tree was changed to "mabolo" for few connect this fruit tree with the hardwood tree that was cut down and sold by the millions of board feet to Chinese merchants in the ancient times to the present. These ancient trees  were brought  back to Taiwan, and to mainland China and make into cabinets, tables, and chairs.

The tree if left to grow wild, may be hard to manage in the future. Proper trimming and care can keep this tree from reaching maximum heights of about 130 feet, with a width of close to 12 feet at the base.  The pony stables at the southwest side of my farm is very hot during summers. The mabolo tree will provide a nice shade.  Betty took her turn at shoveling some soil to plant the mabolo tree, and  as one of the godmothers of this baby tree, we plan to take care to watch and protect the tree, and every year we will take photos of the tree each year to record its growth.

This area we selected, is beside the pony-stables, and goat pen. The manure from the grazing animals will provide constant source of fertilizer  and yearly  pruning will prevent it from becomming a real problem later on.  This tree will take about 7 years to reach maturity and bear fruits that look like velvet skinned apples, but have a thicker skin and very soft, white pulp with tiny seeds. I have never eaten one, but those who have can only compare the taste of the  fruit to that of persimmons.

The yellow ribbons decorated the Mabolo tree  in honor of President Cory Aquino who was associated with the color yellow during her campaign during the famous EDSA peaceful revolution in 1986. This mabolo tree is one of the few that people will see in Metro Manila.

Visitors to the seedling bank on EDSA  can see it near the area near the back where marcot and grafted trees are sold.

The photo of the tree was taken on the same day Betty and I made a visit to the house of former Philippine President Cory Aquino who died on August 1, 2009.

The mabolo fruit tree we saw was mature and had fruit. The fruit  has a round, velvety outer cover which contains the seed in a whitish, cotton-like pulp. The fruit will transition from a light brown color and eventually, turn brown, then to magenta as this fruit berry ages and ripens.

My first impression after seeing the fruit was it  looked like a Christmas ornament. Betty told me that few people like this fruit. The fruit is  sweet however,  when opened , it  has the scent of smelly cheese. The  mobolo fruit is an acquired taste that takes awhile to get used to.  Some say that  peeling the outside cover, and storing it in the refrigerator for several hours, will dissipate the smell . 

One of the signs that a kamagong tree is growing in a forested area, are the presence of very healthy looking monkeys in the forest where the mabolo tree is often sighted.  Monkeys and apes love the fruit of  the rare mabolo tree, and the fruit is  an ideal source of calcium, vitamin B, iron, and even protein needed by growing  baby monkeys. I am hapy to have the mabolo tree as an addition to my  collection  of tropical Philippine fruits on my little farm in Silang.  I suppose us humans  can eat this fruit for those special enzymes that would keep us healthy too!  

Let us all become "godmothers" to a hardwood and or local fruit tree by planting, or joining others in reforesting our countryside. The trees we nuture will reward us with blessings of oxygen, health and peace of mind!