Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

Ancient Adlai: an answer to Food Security


We’re running short of rice. But our country also has an alternative grain. This is the tropical and indigenous ADLAI. It is also called “Job’s Tears.” It’s a versatile grain. Our ancestors cultivated this ancient grain as a staple. The aborigines of Mindanao, considered as the first inhabitants of Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur, have been growing adlai as staple food in the highlands, the same way those in the lowland eat rice. The use of adlai as a staple though has diminished over time.

Adlai grows like grass. You can plant it anywhere and it thrives well despite a harsh climate. After harvesting, Adlai continues to bear grains. When you cut its stalk, a panicle appears again. It is also tolerant to pests and diseases. Farmers can harvest 5 to 6 times a year!


Adlai2 (1)

Adlai has been included in DA’s food-security blueprint. It is also part of the Slow Food International Ark of Taste. The grits can also be ground into flour. It can also be made into crackers, rice cake and cookies. It also has 3x more calories and 6x more protein than rice and is regarded as a cure for diabetes. We should learn to eat this indigenous grain like we eat rice.

We grow two varieties: halayhay and Nomiarc dwarf.  We’re saving the seeds of this indigenous cereal and growing more in our farm. There could be enough seeds for everyone. Not only is it a food staple, but we use it as a windbreak and fence, in companion cropping, and especially as part of our ecological pest control.


Of Men and Roses

3RosesI wanted to sleep and wake up on February 18. No one shrinks from Valentine’s Day like I do. It is not because I abhor sentimentality. I have a deep fondness for that which makes you fleet and float and flitty-flee and fly. I can fritter away my time reading Neruda and Rumi, or watching The Love Affair for the nth time. I adore fated meetings that lead to soft wet kisses on a woman’s back. Dark chocolate and scarlet red roses, I am that kind of girl. But if you please, not on Valentine’s Day! It’s February 6 today and I have been cursing the season. For the past four years, I have been loathing every rose, every bear, and every heart balloon bellowing “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Well, not today. Writing this piece, I am illumined by the splendor of what I do. We grow flowers, the lucky kind that gets picked to bear love and heartache, joy and pain, every yearning, and a lot of times, carry tears of regret and hope. There is something magical about what I do. I carry sentiments. I get to see every bold and brazen guy in town and all over the world, get loopy over the Day of Hearts. And oh, if there was one thing I am fond of, it’s watching cool dudes sheepishly choose a flower arrangement to symbolize devotion and then painfully declare love on a piece of paper. No matter how hard and callous our world has become, I have a daily, hourly, by the minute proof of love in all its guises: There’s the husband who writes: “I fall in love with you everyday;” Casanovas who cunningly order identical bouquets of flowers bearing the same love notes to three different girls; doting sons who buy two bouquets every year for their two great loves: mother and wife; a horde of faraway husbands and lovers blowing their kisses in the wind; besotted lovers onto a new romance; smitten couples who are yet to meet; my list is as boundless as the love that overflows. And oh, the prose and poetry that love can inspire. Lest not forget a few brilliant lines. Message for the bejeweled wife of an affluent executive who obliged his driver to buy his wife’s prized flowers: “Happy ValentiMes!” At least, he left out “Ma’am.” Still, and clichéd and soppy as it may read, whether it’s a husband who knows his lines, a Casanova who knows even better, or even when all the grammar falls apart, every man falls in love and tells it so. They touch the very same virtue and vice that launched a thousand ships, wrote “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,” painted Mona Lisa and played Canon in D. Every human being, whether he’s all muscle and brute, at one time or another, will be captivated by love. And one day I’ll find him at our flower shop. And it’s Valentine’s season again. And how I would want to wake up on February 18 when all their sentiments have already been sent and I can once again be enamored by love.

Creating Christmas Wreaths

I truly sense people are going back to the old.  Christmas wreaths have always been a tradition, with evergreens handpicked and carefully arranged in a crown.  The past years however have substituted the fragrant wreaths with circular arrangements of plastic leaves, silver bells and golden balls.  This year however, I noticed a surge in people buying our Advent wreaths, or better yet, buying pine leaves and cypress, berries, pine cones and tiny limoniums from our farm and shop. If you want a little history, wreaths are associated with Apollo, the Greek god of life and health. That is why Greeks use the wreath as a crown for the Olympic games.

Wreath I made for my home

Traditional wreaths have always used evergreens as a symbol for strength of life.  These leaves are able to stay alive even in the harshest of winters.  Do you know that you can also use laurel leaves for your wreaths?  These have a nice scent and the smokey green color does wonders for your halo of leaves.

I made an Advent wreath for our home and the kids have a wonderful time smelling pine and rosemary, picking on berries and lighting candles.  It is quite easy to make.   Here in the Philippines, you can use leaves such as pine and cypress.  You can add some rosemary and eucalyptus leaves too.  Branches, twigs, every little natural thing you find in your garden or yard can provide a nice touch for your wreath.   I use pine cones, some red berries, and add little sprigs of limoniums which are purple and pink.

Here are a few tips for making your own wreath:

1.  Gather or buy an armful of leaves.  You can find pine and cypress leaves at flower shops or markets.

2.  Cut them into 6 inch sizes.

3.  Don’t forget to have little touches such as pine cones, red berries and small flowers. Use a wire wreath frame or make your own from a wire coat hanger. (Simply unbend it from the familiar shape into a circle; you can use the hook to hang your finished wreath.)

4.  I use a 12 inch Oasis floral foam that is already circular.  You can buy floral foam from the flower market or flower shops.  Dip the base in water until the foam is damp but not fully saturated.

Floral Foam

5.  Insert your foliage or leaves first and start placing them around the frame.  Keep the stems short and fill the entire wreath. I usually start with cypress leaves as a base and then alternate these with pine leaves. You will have a nice fun time putting leaves around the frame. Make sure that the stems face the same direction.

6.  Add pinecones by twisting wire around the base of the cone and then tying the cone’s tail to the wreath.

7.  You can also add red berries and limonium flowers for final touches.

8.  If you are using the wreath for Advent, simply insert 4 candles into the foam or wire wreath.

The wreaths stay fresh for four weeks.  Just spray it with water and sprinkle some water on the base.  Everyone should make a wreath because nothing compares to scents of fragrant pine or herbs wafting through the house, especia.  Christmas is in the air.