My Favorite Tree
When I was a child, I liked climbing up the mango trees growing in our small neighbourhood. Summer vacations were my most anticipated season where the mango trees were bearing the most fruit. Given my little weight back then, I would be the one reaching the highest fruits hanging on thinner branches with my net. Of course I would very mindful of my steps as one wrong move, and I would break my bones at the foot of the tree. Also I would need to take extra care in not disturbing the lines of huge, red ants. Fortunately in my mango tree climbs, I did not so much as fell from the tree. I could already guess by sight if a particular branch could not hold my weigh so I that I could adjust my path to the mangoes. It was like reaching out for the green trophy in the sky.
My friends below would be holding a long cloth where to catch the fruits. After gathering the fruits, I would take home my share. Papa would rinse these with water to get rid of the sticky sap. He would prepare our favourite dip: a mixture of soy sauce, sugar and chilli, Sometimes we would have bagoong for our dip, or the sautéed shrimp paste. My younger sibling on the other hand, was fond of making brown sugar for the dip. Papa used to say that the most nutritious part of the fruit was its skin, so we preferred eating the green, unripe mangoes without peeling it. Or even if we peeled the unripe mangoes, we would still be eating its skin. The sour mango was ideal for us as appetizer. Meanwhile if we wanted sweet mangoes for deserts, we would just buy from the public market. On a fruit, its sweetness was measured in terms of the brix scale, as it could be used to measure minerals in the sap such as sugar (“Use the Brix Scale…” n.d.). Guimaras’ Super Galila mango, one of the most popular sweet mango exportable worldwide, had 22.3 brix score, which was literally tasting sugar juice (“Guimaras Super Galila”, 2016).
There were about six (6) known mango varieties in the Philippines, and the Indian mango variety was the most common and popularly known as a street food. The mango trees grown in our neighbourhood were the usual Indian mango variety. This mango variety, coming from India’s Alphonso Mango, was most common in the suburban areas as it could grow anywhere and could adapt to the tropical climate. The fruit was round-shaped with thick flesh, slight tart, firm and fibrous flesh. Then there was also the Carabao mango variety (manggang kalabaw in Filipino) which was known as champagne mango. When raw, this was sour and green. When ripe, this would become orange-yellow and very sweet. Its flesh was very tender and juicy with very few fibers. This variety had been developed into different strains exportable worldwide. Next was the apple mango variety which had similar characteristics as the Indian mango, only bigger and with a reddish tinge on one part. Fourth variety was the horse mango (manggang kabayo) which had an elongated shape and best eaten raw. Its taste was tartly and it had firm flesh and large seed. The fifth variety was the pajo or pahutan mango which was very sweet, juicy, and fibrous. Then there was the evergreen mango which retained its green color when ripe. One could tell if this was overripe as yellow specks around the fruit would be noticeable. It had a round shape, with taste and texture similar to the carabao mango. And lots of other mango varieties not anymore mentioned here (Shellany, 2017). I have not tasted most of the mangoes in the list, as they would either be more expensive or could not be found in our local markets.
Aside from the sweet fruits offered by the mango tree, its wood could also be made into furniture. When I was a child, we used to have a mango tree shading the roof of our house. It gave a cool climate inside the house despite the scorching summer heat. Only when the rains came, we had to spray on insecticides on the walls or paint them with paints with insect-repellent formulas the caterpillars would start crawling on them. When the small lot where the tree was planted was sold, the mango tree had to be cut down. Being the resourceful person that he was, Papa used the wood from the mango tree for our tables and chairs. As I had plenty of books at home, Papa also built bookshelves for me out of mango wood. Up until now these furniture were intact. For decades, mango wood was known to be a sustainable resource for furniture in the Southeast Asia where it was most common. Mango trees grow quickly. In fact, it could reach up to a thousand feet in height and three feet in diameter within twenty years. Rather than discard of the timber, farmers cut the trees down so they could use the wood. New trees were planted before the older ones stop bearing fruit (“Mango Wood Editorial,” 2015).
Every time there would be trees to be cut nearby to give room for the roads – more often than not, the trees were mango trees – Papa would ask permission from the owners of the trees (if there were any) to take home the mango wood. Then he would make more furniture out of these woods for home use. He would also make his roosters’ shelter out of mango wood. Watching him work made me imagine what could be the commercial value for the furniture he produced. How about in the local industry? How is the mango wood local industry doing now? This could make a very lucrative for the locals, and they would be given local jobs. Also this could be a display for local talents on craftsmanship for furniture. They would not need to travel too far in order to work, as they could already produce products within their localities. It would just be matter of the government promoting local industries such as this in order to give jobs to the people. Also, the government could be supporting this industry by providing power tools and machineries for production and inviting investors to more local investments. Our products could be even made exportable. I was saying all of this because right now Papa was aboard a cruise ship as a crew, and he would stay there for nine months. I had imagined what if he was producing his own furniture and make business out of it? Would he even need to stay away from us, his family, in order to earn? What about if I could help him produce furniture out of mango wood? But every time I passed by a mango tree, I could not help but admire its simplicity amidst the suburban setting. The mango tree, so common yet still so beautiful, was my favourite tree.
- Shellany, A. (2017). Mango mania: The different varieties of the Philippine mango. Retrieved: 1 January 2018 from https://steemit.com/food/@shellany/mango-mania-the-different-varieties-of-the-philippine-mango
- Mango Wood Editorial design story. (2015). Retrieved: 1 January 2017 from https://www.swooneditions.com/blog/mango-wood-editorial-design-story/
- Why mango wood is the best choice for sustainable furniture. (2016). Retrieved: 1 January 2017 from http://worldwidehomefurnishingsinc.com/blog/2016/11/why-mango-wood-is-the-best-choice-for-sustainable-furniture/
- Guimaras Super Galila, the sweetest Carabao mango. (2016). Retrieved: 1 January 2017 from http://www.philstar.com/agriculture/2016/01/03/1538636/guimaras-super-galila-sweetest-carabao-mango
- Use The Brix Scale Below
to Measure Vegetable Quality. (n.d.). Retrieved: 1 January 2017 from http://www.healthy-vegetable-gardening.com/brix-scale.html