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Davao City, Philippines

The fruit of understanding

August 15, 2019 - Thursday 4:08 AM by Jimmy Laking

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“I was told that then Mayor Elias B. Lopez described it as the ‘fruit of understanding’ purportedly because if you eat it, ‘the under will stand,’ howsoever and whatsoever that means.”

Having reunited with durian in 2016 after 17 long years, I had the feeling we’ll never get to be separated again.

Methinks we will be seeing each other often as it certainly did. Together again. Love you with all my heart. I can’t stop loving you.

It was love at first sight when I get to know how durian looked and tasted like in the mid-1980s.

On a gathering of stalls along Anda Street during that decade, Peryodiko Dabaw publisher Pediong Damaso would sometimes treat the boys (Serafin Ramos, Henry Piosca, Bernardo Pinol, Rene B. Lumawag, and me) to a feast of durian which is washed with beer or with bottled water.

Before this I was told that then Mayor Elias B. Lopez described it as the “fruit of understanding” purportedly because if you eat it, “the under will stand,” howsoever and whatsoever that means.

Believe you must me however if I say that the best time to eat it is with friends to ensure you get to open not only one but several fruits. This way you get to compare notes and decide which is tastier and meatier.

One sage advice is for travelers to open the fruit when you are on the road and to toss its pulp along the countryside where it can get to germinate and become fruit-bearing--- by way of paying back nature.

I do not like to go into “smells like hell but tastes like heaven” mantra since I have come to like the unique smell it emits as its husk is split open to bare its alluring meat. And I would like to think that the reason it tastes the way it does is for connoisseurs to eat it pronto and to get it over with as you would with scalding Arabica coffee on the chilly slopes of Mount Apo or on top of Mount Pulag. So unlike the other fruits you can get to eat in bits or pieces or in installments.

Nomi Monfort, who presides over those bat caves in Samal Island mama-san like, says durian is among the five icons that made Davao truly unique in this part of the globe.

If lanzones is to Camiguin Island, mango is to Guimaras, as strawberries are to La Trinidad and other parts of Benguet, durian is truly Davao’s.

The chief icon is Mount Apo itself which sits majestic-like overlooking the land and seas around it.

The other is the Philippine eagle that is decidedly the king of Philippine birds.

The other are the various ethnolinguistic groups indigenous to Davao who are very much still around.

Finally, the other icon which Ms. Monfort described as the original Rotarians (for doing service to humankind since immemorial) are the colonies of bats that fertilize the fruit-bearing trees under cover of darkness, night after night without fail.

They are pretty much, she said, the reason durian as grown in Davao and in the foothills of Mount Apo is a class of its own or why it is indeed the “fruit of understanding” barring none. More.