[Did These Fruits Really Originate in the Philippines?]
Habang kumakain ako ng avocado sa cafeteria ng aking pinagtatrabahuhan, tinanong ng isang Puti kong katrabaho kung ano raw yung kinakain ko. Bago ako makasagot (dahil ngumunguya pa ako), inunahan na ako ng katrabaho naming kapwa ko Filipino, “That’s a fruit called avocado. It originated from our country, the Philippines.”
My Filipino coworker was technically incorrect, so I had to dig the origin of the fruit. “Avocado has long been cultivated in the Philippines,” I said, “but it did not originate in nor is it unique to the Philippines. Merchants and other foreign colonizers of long ago just brought it there.”
Avocado. The green-skinned, usually egg-shaped or pear-shaped avocado (Persea americana) is not too sweet but fatty and has a smooth, almost creamy texture. It is native to the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, and Central America. However, some species are now being cultivated in other subtropical areas like Australia, Chile, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Spain, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and United States—particularly California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Florida. Having a high fat content, the avocado is popular in vegetarian cuisine as a substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads. It is also commonly used for milkshakes and added to ice cream and other desserts. Other names: alligator pear and winter apple.
Here are two more fruits that, although have long been cultivated there, did not originate in the Philippines.
Papaya. The fruit of the plant Carica papaya usually reaches a diameter of 12 inches. It is ripe when it feels soft and its skin has attained a light-green to yellowish color and its flesh an amber to deep orange hue. Originally from southern Mexico, it is now cultivated in most tropical countries, such as Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. As a dessert, the peeled papaya may be eaten as it is or with milk and sugar or as a milkshake. Other names: papaw and pawpaw.
Sineguela. Spondias purpurea is a species of flowering plant that is native to tropical regions of the Americas. The small oval fruit has usually red to purplish with shades of green and occasionally yellow skin and contains a single large seed. The plant is now widely cultivated in tropical regions throughout the world for its edible fruit, and is also naturalized in some areas, including Nigeria and Philippines. The fruits are often eaten ripe, with or without the skin. Unripe, they may be eaten with salt and vinegar or lime juice. Other names: red mombin, purple mombin, hog plum, and sineguelas.
Sa Madaling Salita
Maraming prutas na, bagama’t karaniwan nang nakikita sa Pilipinas, hindi lehitimo sa bansa. Dala rin lang ang mga ito ng mga dayuhang nakipagkalakalan o sumakop sa Pilipinas noong mga nakaraang siglo. Kaya hinay-hinay sa pag-aako ng mga paksang kultura na hindi ka nakasisiguro kung totoo nga o sadyang mga maling akala lamang.
Or, in Simple Words
Many fruits now common in the Philippines were, in fact, just imported into the country in the past centuries by merchants and colonizers. So be careful in claiming ownership of this and that part of our culture especially when you are unsure about it.