You won’t find these in supermarkets or in the bigger fruit stalls. They are essentially homegrown, and except for the miracle fruit, these are the stuff of my early summers.
Back in the pre-Atari days when games were played outdoors, summers meant going around the neighborhood to pick fruits. The bigger, braver ones would climb trees: mango, aratiles, hagis, kaimito–whatever was in season. The less agile ones–me included–would prod the fruit-heavy-branches with our picking sticks, coaxing the fruit into the hoop-like attachment and tugging gently until the fruit dropped into the plastic “catcher.” The rest of the day would be spent running around in stained shirts and fighting off tummy aches from over-eating.
Looking back, it wasn’t so much because we were fond of these fruits that we rounded the neighborhood. It was more for the company, for collective stories that sometimes included an irate neighbor, an angry dog or a swarm of bees. And the occasional spanking, if the bar of Superwheel and the maid’s muscle power proved no match for the heavy stains.
Thirty plus years later, I count myself lucky that some of these fruits are within “picking” distance. The hagis (Syzygium trippinatum (B) Merr) )–which my Dad planted when one of my sisters got married–is a “major attraction,” especially for the neighborhood kids. And for the big boys as well. A couple of weeks ago, Filipino boxing champ Michael Parenas went a-knocking on our gate, asking if he could pick some of the sour reds.
Our mango (Mangifera indica) trees have been prolific this year, as with most other mango trees hereabouts. We also have a surfeit of tambis (water apple or Syzygium samarangense), which is perfect for warding off the sweltering heat.
Here are other homegrown finds that make Sorsogon summers really special: