Saturday, May 9, 2015

Kallautit Memories

IN CASE YOU didn't notice, it has been more than a year that your Isinay Bird went on a leave of absence from the blogosphere (computerese for the world of bloggers).

No sir, I didn't have big reasons the likes of Manny Pacquiao's "shoulder tear" (said to make him go on vacation from boxing for at least six months). If you ask me for excuses, I can only tell that I went out of my blogging hole for sometime to, among other things, gather new impressions and fresh emotions en route to  recollection during tranquil times, as it were, for this blog.

Anyway, I'm back and trying to make up for the long hiatus.

Since it is summer, my thoughts and memories are going on high gear as they focus on ripe fruits that abound this time of the year in the Philippines and many parts of the tropics.

Among them is the Terminalia microcarpa, a large tree that can reach as high as 35 meters and with a canopy spread as wide as 15 meters in radius. Better known in Tagalog as kalumpit, curiously its name in other Philippine languages also begins with k and ends in t. Thus, we have kalaotit (Gaddang), kalosit (Ibanag), kallautit (Ilokano), and kallutit (Isinay).

An article in the Oct-Dec 2012 issue of the DA's BAR Digest written by Diana Rose A. de Leon says the kalumpit is a tree found commonly in dipterocarp forests of the Philippines at low and medium elevations. It can be propagated by seed and grafting and is grown as backyard fruit trees in Batangas and other parts of the country. Surprisingly, despite its wide distribution, not many Filipinos have known or seen a kalumpit tree or even got the taste of its fruit.

As the photos borrowed from the  BAR Digest show, the fruits of the kalumpit could give other trees a run for their attractiveness.

When I was growing up, there was one large tree by the side of the river in Palobotan that used to make my April-May weekends a must visit to the area. It was during such period that the kallautit had profuse fruits that attracted not only a number of fruit-feeding birds but also outdoor-loving kids like me and my barrio friends at the time.

When this riverside tree's fruits are ripe, we would prefer to go swimming near the tree so that we could feast on the fallen edibles and/or try our skills with the palsiit (slingshot) on the pirruka (bulbul) and other birds that also could not resist the invitation of the reddish and luscious kallautit fruits.

I also remember there was a much larger tree that lorded it over the top of a forested hill at the southern end of the barrio where my Ilocano grandparents used to live. We kids would know the kallautit's fruits were ripe when at noon the familiar song of the tariktik (a big bird related to the kalaw or Rufous hornbill) would be heard in the neighborhood.

Too bad, both trees are no longer there today. Yet two of my childhood friends in Palobotan are still alive and are now also senior citizens. And each time we meet we would reminisce about those bygone days when we had the whole barrio for our playground -- and abal-abal (May beetle) and rivers and birds and trees were joyful parts of our growing-up years!

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