Freedom is the Essence of Life and Pitifully Abused

Freedom is the Essence of Life

And Pitifully Abused

By Apolinario Villalobos


At the right moment, the fetus carried by the mother in her womb wiggles out free. The mother is freed from the burden. The baby sucks milk from the mother…the onset of freedom to life. As he/she grows she begins to naughtily run free from the hold of the mother….growing older as a teen, he/she begins to abuse freedom by indulging in vices. Growing older still, the more that he/she abuses freedom by stealing or by being corrupt.


In the Philippines today, freedom is abused using the principle of “human rights” and “due process”. Robbers who belong to syndicates easily go scot free due to bail posted by financiers. Drug pushers enjoy similar privilege due to corrupt judges and police. Students who pretend to be intellectuals abuse whoever sits as authority…they say, they just put into action their freedom of speech. Freedom to choose leaders is woefully downtrodden, what with vote-buying during election campaign.


With freedom, democracy seems to lead adherent countries to nowhere. America who claims to be the Mother of Democracy is agonizing with her own share of abuse. Old democratic countries of Europe are likewise reeling from the destruction of bombs, thanks to the lenient policies that welcomed terrorists into their benevolent arms…because of their own kind of benevolent freedom!


Yes, freedom is the essence of life as even Jesus, himself, died on the cross to free the humanity from sin….that is according to Christian advocates.



The “Hemp” Vegetable

The “Hemp” Vegetable

By Apolinario Villalobos


The “hemp” vegetable is popularly known in the Philippines as “saluyot” among the Tagalogs and “tagabang” among the Visayans. I swear to its preventive values against diabetes. For several years now that I have been eating plenty of the vegetable the sugar in my blood has been consistently maintained in its normal level. The fibers of the vegetable also make it easy for me to move my bowels.


Foremost reason why many Filipinos do not want to eat the vegetable is its slimy broth that results when cooked. The remedy is by adding a little vinegar or several drops of lemon or kalamansi, as the acidity prevents the juice of the vegetable to become slimy.


There is a big market for the vegetable, especially, in Japan. Big tracks of land are planted with saluyot for its leaves that are processed for the juice that is mixed with flavors to become a delightful medicinal bottled drink, just like the aloe vera juice.


The vegetable can be cooked simply as “paksiw” in which a little vinegar and slices of ginger are added, the way “fish paksiw” is cooked. It can also be stir-fried and flavored with canned sardines, flaked smoked fish, or just tomatoes and onions. Other optional culinary use of the vegetable are:

  • Sauce thickener for kare-kare
  • Extender for the Visayan “laswa” and “law-uy” dishes
  • Important ingredient for the veggie combo that includes thin slivers of bamboo shoots, corn, okra, fresh shrimp or crab and cooked optionally in coconut milk
  • Essential ingredient for the “pinakbet” and “dinengdeng”
  • Steamed and dipped in fish sauce it becomes appetizer best eaten with fried or grilled fish or fried dried fish.


The vegetable is of various varieties with the most popular being the short one, barely two feet in height and widely sold in the local market. But left to grow further, it could reach the height of a shrub. In the Middle East, it is popularly used to thicken the sauce of chicken casserole.


Hemp is the generic name of the vegetable because a sturdy variety is being used in making “hemp rope” characterized by twined strong fibers, akin to the “abaca hemp”, the source of which is related to banana plant.


With the onslaught of diabetes today due to the proliferation of unhealthy western foods, simply called “junk food”, and which is considered as harbinger of other diseases, my advice is the inclusion of the vegetable in the daily diet. Forget the slimy juice…just think of it as another kind of medicine, some of which are even bitter. One has a choice between the cheap prevention from the lowly “saluyot” or the development of the dreadful diabetes that could result to other diseases resulting further, to the devastation of budget. Remember: prevention is better than cure.