Saturday, June 25, 2011


My passion fruit vines are full of unripen green fruit. In a week, I expect more ripen fruit to harvest. Passion fruit is being studied by many medical laboratories to learn how it can cure serious ailments like cancer.

Passion Fruit has Phytochemicals that is a powerful anti-toxicant. These phytochemicals are called :Passaflorine, Harmine, Harman, Harmol, Harmalin, Carotenoids, Vitexin, Isovitexin and Chrysin, Scopoletin, Carotenoids, Theobromine

The juice, but mainly the leaves of passion fruit contain the alkaloids, including Harman, which has blood pressure lowering, sedative and antispasmodic action. The passion fruit leaves are used in many countries as medicines for a variety of illnesses, but the latest find is that passion fruit juice can kill cancer cells in vitro.

The flower of passion fruit has a mild sedative and can help to induce sleep which is good for insomniacs.

Passion flower has also been used in the treatment of nervous disorders, epilepsy and hyperactive children, bronchial asthma, insomnia, nervous gastrointestinal disorders and menopausal problems.

Passion flower however was sometimes used as a mild hallucinogen by native Caribbean natives, similar to marijuana. The Caribbean natives would drink a tea made from the leaves of the passion fruit, and go into a trance to speak to their ancestral spirits. This practice was stopped after the Spanish conquered them, and converted them to Catholicism.

There is a study done in the USA, that studied the effect of fruit juices on those who have cancer. The results proved that yellow passion fruit extracts can kill cancer cells in vitro. The phytochemicals which are responsible for this anti-cancer effect are carotenoids and polyphenols.

The variety of passion fruit we have in the Philippines is the yellow one. The Spanish brought in the passion fruit vines of yellow passion fruit to the Philippines. The purple passion fruit grows in Central and South America, and the peel extract can reduce asthma symptoms. Another study focused on 42 asthmatic patients and gave them an oral administration of purple passion fruit extract. The passion fruit extract supplementation reduced the wheezing by 75 percent and increased forced vital capacity.

Passion fruit peel extract also cures knee osteoarthritis. Medical doctors did a study on patients suffering from arthritis. The results was that it was discovered that the flavanoid rich extract significantly reduced pain and stiffness.

Spanish priests who arrived with the explorers that eventually conquered Central and South America discovered native medicine men using this passion fruit as medicine. The passion fruit juice made people relaxed and sleepy. The leaves were made into a tea, and used as a sleep-inducing medicine. The name 'Passion' was given by Catholic missionaries in South America. The corona threads of the passion flower were seen as a symbol of the crown of thorns, the five stamens for wounds, the five petals and five sepals as the ten apostles (excluding the two that betrayed Jesus, namely Judas and later Peter who denied knowing Jesus after the arrest of Jesus at the garden of Gesethame) and the three stigmas for the nails on the cross.

How to make passion fruit juice:

Take the yellow ripen passion fruit.
*Cut in half
*Scoop out seeds and pulp around seeds.

Add 1 tablespoon sugar for every 1 passion fruit (two sides = 1 fruit) and then mix with the seeds/pulp extracted. Add 1 cup per fruit, and mix well. This juice can be mixed with pineapple juice or guava juice too.

Use pineapple juice instead of water…add sugar to seeds like making simple passion fruit juice, but the pineapple juice is already sweet. Just mix to taste! ENJOY with cool ice cubs and a bit of mint leaf!

Drain off seeds (for replanting…just place in fertile soil, and wait till vine sprouts).

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I usually take a walk-about my farm to check on every single area. My walk will start from the main house garden, to the flower beds along the center pathway, to open field, checking drains, and looking out for the animals.

Many years ago, I learned to speak “duck” and observed the quiet attitude of my poultry whenever a storm, or monsoon rain was about to start. Usually, the chickens are everywhere, making their sweet clucking sounds as they forage through the grass and bushes. The ducks are often very playful once the rains soak the grounds, bringing a new generation of water snails which is their favorite food. I know the ducks have been out, by the number of snail shells I see empty, devoid of their luscious content. I don’t eat edible snails, or any kind of mollusk, even clams. Ducks are always wagging their tails, and quacking at each other, except when they know something dangerous lurks nearby.

This code of silence is clearly noticeable. I’ve never failed to enjoy an enthusiasm among the birds when there are breaks in the rain. When I walk around, I am welcomed by the shrieks of happy kingfishers, and the loud chirps of Malaysian Fantails hopping from the fountain where they bathe and drink, to the delicate quips of the nectar birds.

However, there was nothing but stone, cold, silence. I knew right away, this stillness meant there was a large snake somewhere. The ducks, chickens, even the birds of the sky see it, but I don’t. Suspicious, I ask our farm hand, Buhat to walk around the farm with me, and where there is an over abundance of weeds, and a plant I call “Corazon de Jesus,” I know that section of the farm has been unattended to.

Almost immediately, I saw the large elephant like ears of the “Corazon de Jesus” plant, which has a pink, heart shaped design in different sizes. The biggest leaves were against the wall, and it is very evident, the area beside the coffee bushes, lanzones, and “Dona Imelda” bushes, with their pink leaves, was overgrown. I had to have these plants cut back.

Buhat and I broke off some tall, red colored Ti plants to spread around the farm. I love their flame colored leaves, and I asked that these broken off stems be inserted in that area I wanted cleared of the “Corazon de Jesus “plant. This plant got its name from my Lola’s banishing this swamp plant because it attracts snakes. Snakes somehow like to coil themselves around it and just enjoy the coolness of the puddles of water during hot humid days. Sure enough, Buhat leaped back as he was just about to plunge a red Ti plant stem into the ground.

He saw a huge snake. He told me not to come near, as it was a large, and very bright colored snake. Buhat called for another farm hand to bring a long pole and help him catch the snake. When I heard “catch the snake,” in the vernacular, I knew it was not poisonous. I ran to the house to get my camera. I handed the camera to Esko and asked him to take photos because I did not want any large snake to chase me.

As soon as Esko made his way to the bushes, Soling leaped on the fence and started to scream. She said it was a huge snake, and it was hissing and opening its mouth, threatening the men.

Buhat was able to catch the snake, and I knew from the beautiful patterns, it was a boa constrictor. Buhat said the bigger male was caught a few weeks ago, and this smaller 7 footer must be the female.

Boa constrictors are quite colorful. The difference between pythons and boa constrictors is that pythons lay eggs, and boas give birth to live young. I’ve never seen boas that are as colorful as this one that my farm hands caught. The snake had patterns with gray, black, white and gold markings. I marveled at the beauty of something that could easily kill a large chicken, and probably helped her to a few of my pullets, wandering around foraging for food. This is one of the risks of having free range chickens running around the farm, especially during the rainy season where these snakes, stalk the smaller chickens, sleeping birds, and climb trees to catch bats eating ripening fruits at night.

The snake was set free many kilometers away, in another area. I wonder if this beautiful, bright colored snake would continue to evade people. A few exotic Chinese restaurants have been cashing in the latest craze of gecko napping going on, and the chefs at these oriental kitchens often serve snake, especially during the rainy season.

I immediately heard the noisy ducks clamor for their chance at playing in the rain, and the birds once again filled the sky with their joyful song.

Till the next snake hunt, hopefully not in the near future…I will avoid walking around the farm most especially just in slippers. Never go barefooted in wet grassy lawns. You never know what may be lurking about during the monsoon season!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Walk In The Grasslands of Cavite, Philippines

June is the first month of the monsoon season. A week has passed since the announcement of a major typhoon named "Chedeng," was headed for the Tagalog region where Cavite is located. The storm brought some coolness, and lots of rain, but right after "Chedeng" exited the Philippines, and headed for Taiwan, the heat went back up to about 39*C. This heat, is joined by an intense humidity, that feels like my blood is being pumped out of my body. The sweat falls down my face like large wet beads, soaking my shirt, and pants as if someone doused me with warm water. Even at high noon when the sun is right above, the heat combines with the extreme humidity, to form a steam. The air feels like I am standing above a rice cooker. The earth gives out an odor, which locals call "singaw ng lupa" in Tagalog. This is an intense evaporation of the superficial water from the ground, that is softened after soaking from previous rains.

Silang is located at the foothills near the highlands of Tagaytay Ridge. At the highest point, one can see the peak where Imelda Marcos built a "palace-in-the-sky" with a 360 degree sweeping view of Taal Lake, Laguna de Bay, Balayan Bay, and the skyscrapers of Metro-Manila.

Walking around noontime, the humidity from these hilltops is not as severe as down in city of Metro Manila. I could bear the heat and the humidity as I strolled up and down a small biker's pathway to see the 100 hectares of grazing land. A gentle breeze flowed ever so slightly, and the expanse of green grass before me, is a feast for tired eyes.

I love animals, and feel bad that these very happy, contended cows will someday end up in the meat markets. I really wondered what happened to the Magnolia Dairy Farm that during my youth produced the best, fresh milk, and cheese found in Metro-Manila. Asian people are not found of milk or cheese. Perhaps Filipinos are highly lactose intolerant, and prefer meat to milk, but the grasslands in this area are plentiful and rich. I am sure if more of these pastures are kept for the grazing of cows, the country will not have to import milk powder, or frozen fresh milk, butter or cheese. There is plenty of land here. If a foundation could be set up to buy this land, the community of farmers in this province can form a coop, and start a dairy farm within this same area. Otherwise, the land will end up as housing projects.

There are several dozens of newly born calves and baby goats playing and grazing near their mothers. The mother cows and goat's udders were loaded with milk.

These goats and cows were full of milk. Imagine that the Philippines imports milk powder from China, New Zealand and Australia, and right here in this pasture, there are many lactating females. No one seems to care to make use of all their converted nutrients from these luscious, green grasses. The land is still unpolluted because the grazing animals have lots of room to move around. The ratio that would be suitable is to space the cows, about 1 cow per hectare. In 100 hectares, 10 cows, and 2 bulls would quickly multiply to about 100 head in a few seasons. This land is way up on the foothills of Cavite, right before Tagaytay. The weather is much cooler, and the ground cleaner. I did not feel stress to walk around the property.

In the distance, I noticed a few urban housing projects going up. Unfortunately, I was told, this beautiful grassland would eventually be developed into another subdivision. I enjoyed this day, for as the Philippine real estate market predicts an increase in demand for middle class houses, there is little time before more of the beautiful pastures of Silang, Cavite countryside will be gone. In just a few years, this peaceful setting of tranquil cows and goats feeding on a carpet of green, will end up once more, as part of the urban sprawl.