The AG Dragon Fruit Farm (Barangay Lilit, Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat, Philippines)

THE AG DRAGON FRUIT FARM

…barangay Lilit, Lambayong (Sultan Kudarat, Philippines)

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

When I reached barangay Lilit, in Lambayong, I was surprised to find an orchard, not only planted to a cactus variety bearing fruits that came to be known as “dragon” perhaps, because of the skin that looks like scales, but also to lime or “calamansi” as well. The lime trees were profusely bearing late fruits, most of which hidden behind thick clusters of leaves.

 

According to the couple, G-Anne and Arnold, they started with the mangoes in the 3 hectare- farm. Unfortunately, the tropical fruit did not fare well, so that they were cut down to be made into charcoal. They tried the lime which somehow, brought in good yields. But, when Arnold got fascinated with the dragon fruit, as it has become a fad all over the country due to its nutritional value and consistently high price, he bought starter cuttings at Php50 per post. He used the upright system with stems that bear flowers allowed to extend freely. That was in 2016. Another type of raising the cactus for its fruits is by connecting the posts with wires  or thin cables to form some sort of a trellis.

 

Of the 3 hectares, ¾ of the area is planted to the cactus while the remaining space is retained for the lime.  Mrs. G-Anne Guerrero shared that the dragon fruit venture has so far shown a good promise of success. The first week of June saw a “pick and pay holiday” when the orchard was opened to walk-ins who enjoyed the American-style of fruit picking. On the other hand there is a need to check on a regular basis the clumps of cactus tied on the concrete posts so that segments infected with fungus could be cut off.

 

During my Sunday visit, the family was preparing for the arrival of guests from Manila and other parts of the province. Also, a relative, Ferdinand Pascua of the Department of Trade and Industry, Legal Department  (DTI-Manila) dropped by. The rest who were around during my quick visit were Meciel Abalos de la Cruz and Paulo Guerrero, the couple’s son who works at the Provincial Capitol of Sultan Kudarat, and Gerril Guerrero, barangay Poblacion Kagawad. As it was a late breakfast time, kalentubo, a Maguindanao rice curry conically wrapped in banana leaf was brought out as well as slices of the red variety of dragon fruit to go with coffee.

 

The Guerrero Orchard at Purok Lilit is about three minutes travel from downtown passing through barangay Pag-asa. The way is replete with refreshing view of rice fields that would turn into a sea of undulating green and become tinted with yellow as harvest time approaches.

 

The AG Fruit Farm is a typical “micro farm” with every available space utilized to the maximum so that even standing pruned trees serve as hosts to the clinging cactus. Sharing the area are lime trees, as earlier mentioned. Even cluster of yam are left to grow on their own, as well as, cluster of kangkong for that matter.

 

 

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The Lims of Cotabato by Jose “Boyet” Lim III

THE LIMs OF COTABATO…

By Jose “Boyet” Lim III

 

Not much is known about them now as time has eroded the sturdier chapters of their history, as is bound to happen in all matters undocumented.

From word of mouth, the first settler from China of the family landed in the hostile shores of the western side of Mindanao probably between 1870-90s, as what, or as who, is not known with certainty. It can merely be surmised that he must had been a very adventurous fellow, or a simpleton who knew nothing better than staying afoot in the midst of Moros.

As fate would plot it, however, he must had been able to assimilate with the Moros and the natives, and more than that, married a distant descendant of Sultan Kudarat. That must had repositioned his place in those times’ social order from a drifter of the high seas to the ranks of emerging local chieftains.

One of his sons, christened Jose Lim Sr, better known as Binsuan among the Moros and locals, was such a popular toughie on that western Mindanao seaboard that he got himself elected as the first mayor of what then was simply known as Cotabato. It was during his administration that the Quirino Bridge connecting Nuling, now the town of Sultan Kudarat, to the city, and the erstwhile Cotabato City Hall which is currently being developed into a City Museum, were built. To his small legacy was renamed Felipe II Street to Jose Lim Sr Street in downtown Cotabato City.

His son of his namesake, Jose Lim Jr., is my father. As a young man, he was sent by my grandfather to the rescue of businessmen in Buluan who were having tax woes, as their bookkeeper. There he met my mother, the maiden Concepcion Antiporda, a native of Tayug, Pangasinan and a pharmacist from the University of the East in Manila serving her rural community time, yes, of all places, in Buluan.

Arsenio Lim, who is today celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary with my Aunt Myrna Barracoso of Coron, is my father’s half brother, and my uncle. The handsome fellow standing in the picture is Arsenio Lim, Jr., “Chin Chin” to us, his son, who is a known dentist in Davao City with a Master’s Degree in Dental Surgery from Australia. His wife Jen, is also a dentist. Both are practicing their profession at the Lim Dental Clinic along Tomas Claudio Street, now Quirino Avenue, Davao City. If you want to save on their professional fees, call me. We’ll split the discount.

The beautiful lady to the right is Judith, my darling first cousin. Her father is Rodolfo, closest brother to my father. Like my father, Uncle Rody was a toughie and lived on his own from age 12. He passed away some years ago, but not before he was able to join us in the birthday celebration of my father at my place, which in our recollection, has become one of the most memorable get-togethers our family ever had in Davao City.

The lady on the left must be one of my Muslim cousins. Pretty too, right?

If I were in Cotabato City now, I would be speaking on behalf of my father, at this 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration.

To Uncle Babes and Auntie Myrna, it is probably easier now to get to Pluto than to get to what you have accomplished as parents and a great couple of 50 years. Yours is an example for all of us to emulate, which is a tall order for a Lim, but which, nevertheless, should be a burning inspiration to the younger men and women of this generation. You have gone thru the whole nine yards to show that parenting is a lifetime profession goldenly worth it as may be gleaned from the fruits of your tree.

The spirit of that Chinaman of the 1890s must now be hovering in his chinky grin over your celebration.

Like him, we too are mighty proud of you!
Congratulations!

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