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.

Dalawang Kuwento ng Disiplina kung Paanong Napaglabanan ang Diabetes

Dalawang Kuwento ng Disiplina

Kung Paanong Napaglabanan ang Diabetes

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Sa panahon ngayon, kahit karaniwan na ang pagkaroon ng mga sakit tulad ng kanser, diabetes, alta presyon, cholesterol, ulcer, etc., kahit papaano, nakakagulat pa ring malaman na tayo o mga kaibigan natin ay mayroon ng isa sa mga nabanggit, lalo na kung may namatay. Ang kadalasan na ginagawa ng mga tao para labanan ang mga sakit ay yong tinatawag na “reactive” na pamamaraan. Ibig sabihin, kung kaylan dumapo na ang sakit ay saka pa lamang kikilos ang taong tinamaan kaya halos araw-arawin niya ang pagpunta sa doctor, at kung maaari lang ay ubusin na sa isang lagukan ang mga prescribed na gamot. Maliban sa nahihirapang katawan, ay nabubutas din ang bulsa nila dahil sa mga gastusin. Ang nakakalungkot ay ang mga kasong napakahuli na ang reaksiyon kaya nawalan na ng pag-asang gumaling ang maysakit. Sino ang may kasalanan?…masakit mang aminin, kalimitan ay ang mga maysakit mismo dahil sa kapabayaan.

Subalit mayroon pa rin namang maituturing na masuwerte dahil kahit malala na ang sakit ay napaglabanan pa rin nila. Marami ang nagsasabi na ang pinakanakakatakot na sakit ay diabetes dahil dumadaloy ito sa dugo at lahat ng bahagi ng katawan ng tao ay tinutumbok nito. Hindi maaaring isabay ang paggamot sa diabetes sa iba pang sakit kung sabay silang umatake. Nakakatuwang malaman na may mga kuwento tungkol sa pakikipaglaban sa diabetes na ginagawa ng iba dahil sa layunin nilang mabuhay pa ng matagal, kaya lahat na lang ng paraan ay ginagawa nila.

Ang unang kuwento ay tungkol sa dati kong landlady sa Baclaran, si ate Lydia. Masasabing maganda ang landlady ko na noong kabataan niya ay lumalabas pa sa mga pelikula ni Fernando Poe Jr. Makalipas ang maraming taon, nagkita uli kami at mangiyak-ngiyak sa pagkuwento na muntik na siyang maputulan ng dalawang binti dahil sa diabetes. Nagnaknak na daw ang harapang bahagi ng kanyang dalawang binti at dahil sa nakasusulasok na amoy, isa-isang nag-alisan ang mga boarders niya. Halos maubos ang naipon niyang pera sa pagpapagamot, subalit wala ring nangyari. Dahil sa hiya, hindi na siya lumalabas ng bahay na palaging nakasara.

Isang araw daw ay dumating ang dati niyang labandera at nang makita ang kalagayan niya ay agad nagsabi na subukan daw niya ang saluyot. Mula noon, tuwing almusal, tanghalian at hapunan ay halos saluyot na lang ang kanyang kinain. Makalipas ang isang buwan, napansin niyang unti-unting natutuyo ang malalaking sugat. Pagkalipas pa ng limang buwan, gumaling ang mga sugat. Nang bumalik siya sa doktor, nalaman niyang bumaba na ang indicator ng diabetes niya, pero tuloy pa rin ang kain niya ng maraming saluyot. Noong magkita kami, halos ayaw kong maniwala sa kuwento niya dahil makinis naman ang kanyang mga binti.. Kinakantiyawan ako ng landlady ko noon dahil sa request kong palaging ulam na pinakbet, adobong kangkong, paksiw na saluyot at okra, at tortang talong. Nang magkaroon siya ng diabetes, naalala daw niya ako.

Ang ikalawang kuwento naman ay tungkol kay Ellen, naglalako ng mga dinaing na isda sa lugar namin. Noong nakaraang taon, halata ang pagkahulog ng katawan niya dahil sa sobrang kapayatan at pamumutla. Inamin niyang may diabetes siya. Kaylan lang ay nakita ko uli siya, subalit hindi na payat at maputla…bumata pa nga. Ayon sa kanya, halos mawalan na daw siya ng pag-asa dahil sa sakit niya, at nadagdagan pa ng pagtetebe o hirap sa pagdumi ng kung ilang araw. Wala naman daw siyang perang pangkonsulta palagi, at kahit anong gamot ang inumin niya ay wala rin daw epekto. May narinig siyang mga kuwento tungkol sa ashitaba at okra na nakakagaling daw ng diabetes.

Wala naman daw mawawala sa kanya kung susubukan niya. Makalipas lang daw ang ilang araw, bumalik sa normal ang kanyang pagdumi. At, makalipas naman ang mahigit isang buwan ay nagkakulay na rin siya, hindi na maputla. Kaya mula noon ay itinuloy lang niya ang araw-araw na pagkain ng ashitaba at okra. Sa umaga, apat na dahon ng ashitaba ang nginangata niya habang nagtatrabaho at pinipilit niyang siya ay pawisan, at ang okra naman ay palagi niyang inuulam. Makalipas ang ilang buwan pa, nadagdagan na rin ang kanyang timbang subalit pinipilit niyang huwag tumaba uli tulad nang dati. Nang magpakonsulta siya uli, nagulat ang doktor dahil sa kanyang pagbabago.

Sa dalawang kuwento, malinaw na kung hindi dahil sa disiplina ay hindi gumaling si ate Lydia at Ellen. Ang iba kasi, marinig lang ang “okra” at “saluyot” ay nandidiri na dahil madulas daw ang katas. Kung may disiplina ang isang tao, kahit mapait pa ang isang halamang gamot o gulay tulad ng ampalaya, dapat ay itanim lang niya sa kaisipan ang layuning gumaling…yon lang.

Understanding the Dietary and Medicinal Values of Herbs and Vegetables

Understanding the Dietary
and Medicinal Values of Herbs and Vegetables
By Apolinario Villalobos

I cannot understand how herbal medicine can be viewed as an “alternative”, when in fact, such has been thriving even before the so called civilization made life comfortable for man.
Herbal medicine has been part of the early earthlings’ way of life long before drug laboratories came into being. In other words, the herbal medicine should be considered as the “original” medicine, and the laboratory-processed ones as the “alternative”, and not the other way around. The laboratory-processed medicines with attributes cloned from the plants are understandably with longer shelf-life and more convenient to use as they are in the transportable forms such as tablet, capsule or in small bottles as syrup and infused with preservatives. For the sake of fairness then, the word “alternative” should be taken out of the drug dictionary, and we just stick to “herbal”.

The pampered attitude of man should be blamed on why the use of herbal medicine had a lull in the past. Fortunately, today, the practice is picking up again because the civilized world has realized that most laboratory-processed drugs are not safe enough to be taken without proper supervision or strictly followed prescription. Modern medical practitioners blame “overdose”, “underdose”, and even “abuse” for any untoward result from the “misuse” of laboratory-processed medicines.

The only problem with the herbal medicine is that, it requires patience as regards its preparation which is akin to a ritual. A realistic example is how I do it: first, I have to have a dedicated kettle that I can use in boiling leaves, barks, and spices, and then I have to look for those that I need to boil. I have to do the concocting when I wake up, as I also use the concoction to dilute my coffee. I have to do that every morning! Compare that with just gulping down tablets or capsules with a glass of water.

Sacrifice is the keyword if one has to be serious in making herbal medicine part of his life to prevent the onset of diseases. In my case, however, it is a must because my blood has cancer cells, as the disease is the scourge of our family.

I employ resourcefulness in my effort to gather what I need by bringing with me plastic bags every time I go out to do my rounds of random sharing. During the season of mangosteen, I would hand out plastic bags to people eating the said fruit, so that I can gather the rinds which I dry at home. Also, I would buy the blemished fruits, considered as rejects, though fresh, as they come cheap. With those, I am able to dry rinds that can last me for many months. It saves me substantial amount of money, as compared to buying the laboratory-prepared MX3 capsules and preparations with coffee.

When I found out that watermelon can prevent rapid enlargement of the prostate, during its season, I would ask watermelon rinds from vendors who sell the fruit by the slice. I would bring home a grocery bagful of them to be pickled in brine or cooked in brown sugar and cinnamon powder. During the corn season, I would also ask for the “hair” from the vendors who just throw them away. At home, I boil it as the concoction helps eliminate gall and kidney stones.

Another problem with the medicinal herbs is that they must be eaten, too, as vegetables. This is an unfortunate requirement which those who have no heart in acquiring the taste, will really find difficult. Every time I share with others how I cook unpeeled squash and green papaya, I would notice eye brows rising. Eye brows would rise higher, if I mention how I would prepare my own “arroz caldo” with vegetables instead of chicken. Then I would notice some holding on to their throat if I mention about cooking alogbate or chinese spinach, saluyot and okra in plenty of tomatoes and onions. They cannot just imagine the slimy broth that would result!

If I begin mentioning to my friends about rarely- heard names of herbs and spices and their uses, I would see blank stares, as if they cannot believe what I have said. If I tell them about star anise as being effective in preventing the onset of allergies, or softening the phlegm, the more that they become stupefied. And, when I mention about cloves as part of my concoction, they would wonder aloud “what the hell is that”. With the climax of my share which is telling them that always part of what I cook as food are turmeric and powdered chili – plenty of them as in spoonful, I would see many listeners shudder, especially, if I tell them that I also include them in my coffee.

So, those are the difficulties of having herbs as part of diet, or as medicine. Some people cannot imagine them to possibly become part of a healthy diet. They would rather play dumb to the saying that prevention is better than cure, and instead, prefer the convenient though expensive tablets, capsules, and visits to the physician, at the onset of a disease, later on.