On our second morning at our new place, as I was washing the dishes from breakfast, my landlords came, the husband with his wheelbarrow, spade, ladder, and bolo, and helped me trim branches off the trees that were overhanging on the walkway from the street to our house. The twice-daily task of sweeping the walkway would now be a lot easier and quicker. While the hubby was whacking at the trees, the wife and I went around the 1,000 sq.m. property, identifying the plants grown on the perimeter garden. Across the main door and balcony, the apple-mango tree standing much higher than the house and now heavy with fruits, the ripe ones falling throughout the day and peppering the ground, was planted by the wife 26 years ago when she, like me today, was a young-ish mother with growing up kids, was still living with her in-laws (I suspect that she and her husband come to help me because she remembers how back then as a woman it could be quite overwhelming raising up kids, making house, and working all at the same time plus they liked me to be the one to buy the place which by the way is for sale). Incidentally, the Spanish colonial house still in it’s original state is more or less 60+ years old! I’m fascinated with history and so I feel lucky that I’ve stumbled upon this property. Of course, with such an established house among the initial concerns, well, from the kids at least, was ghosts. I assured them that the house is peaceful and welcoming. Before finalizing the lease agreement and meeting the landlords, when the previous renters were packing, I came to stay a couple of afternoons with them just to feel the vibes of the house. And, peaceful and welcoming were what I felt. On our first night, as a sort of ritual, I thanked the universe or whatever for bringing us to the shelter of a heritage house and assured the spirit of the house or whatever that I can be relied upon to take good care of the property and in exchange they take care of us during our stay (in other words, to just let us be).
Moving on, we identified plants like, the lone mahogany tree, a couple of palm trees, several banana trees (the husband, on instruction by the wife, chopped off a soon-to-ripen bunch that he hung under the roof in the backyard and which we can easily get from once ripe- oh so that’s what she meant by hanging it), lemongrass, papaya tree (the dwarf red variety left by the recent renter who’s an agriculturist), edible greens we couldn’t identify but popular among the Chinese (planted by a previous renter), malunggay (moringa) tree (I harvested enough of it’s fruits for dinner, having now learned from my aunt how to cook it), cactus, and a few more others we didn’t know.
Still, there’s so much bare ground left to be planted. Resting and chatting after our work were done, I resolved to really get a gardening and farming crash course Dummies style. That, while I wondered shit how in the world did I get myself from mostly intellectual or mental work to manual labor? Nobody in my circle especially my agriculturist-colleagues would believe me if I tell them I’ve turned into a kind of hands-on gardener-farmer. Ha ha.
It reminded me of a statement from the book, Beyond The Pyramids: Travels in Egypt,
When I’m on my farm, I do not care about telephone calls or paperwork or dealing with the obstacles that stupid bureaucrats in the government Ministries put on my way. I think about nothing but my watermelons and my guavas. I sleep on a mat on the floor of the farm’s hut. I become an Egyptian again.
As for me, I become Filipino again, you know, as in Filipino living the breadth of life in these Islands. This time with my kids. Early in the month, my kids and I were exploring on Pinterest details of one of their Zodiac signs. We came upon one about what’s expected from the signs. From Aquarius, that’s me, their mom, adventures. My eldest daughter looked at me and giggled. Yes, baby, let’s go on life’s adventures together. Also, during the first meal at our new place which was by myself with a couple of male friends back in high school who helped me transport and moved in bulky furnitures (thank goodness for boy friends!), as we were eating, I blurted out that not once did the thought of living in this place occur to me, and one of them said, ah yes let’s think this is where God is leading you. In my heart, I’m certain that these lucky breaks are because of people praying hard for me and my kids.