The Good Old Guava (Bayabas)

Bayabas, Guava, Philippine fruit
Ang bayabas!

I bought a few pieces of guavas in the supermarket last Monday and I was surprised to see the price tag! I didn’t quite expect that guavas are 120 pesos per kilo now. Rather, I did not expect that there will come a time when guavas would be this expensive. What’s with all the semi-rant? I guess it all boils down to my childhood when almost every house in the province had a guava tree. We had three guava trees of different varieties. The guava tree in the backyard had small and sweet fruits. My mother used to cook milkfish in guava soup using the harvest in the backyard. The second guava tree near the side of the house had big and sour fruits. The 3rd guava tree in the small garden had the best-tasting fruits. Because of this, it was prone to be “attacked” by curious children who were tempted to know if this tree’s fruits were delicious. Being a small sleepy town in the 80s, everybody knows anybody and as well as which house had the most number of fruit-bearing trees so that when the summer season comes, they knew where to ask for fruits. The 80s lifestyle was that simple and not yet commodified; you could either pick or ask for vegetables or fruits, free of charge.

Apples, oranges, and grapes were expensive back in the 80s, and eating one would either mean that you were rich or you had relatives abroad. Those were the days when imported fruits were limited because of logistics problems and maybe taxation issues. However, the good old guava used to be rare, too. It originally came from Mexico and was most likely brought by the Spaniards during the Spanish era. Early Filipinos loved this fruit so much and so Juan Tamad’s sleeping under the guava tree was written.

Medium-sized guava has 10 times more vitamin C content than a calamansi. It could help benefit your digestive system and it could help lower blood sugar levels. It could boost your immune system and I hope it’s true when they said that it could have an anti-cancer effect. Its leaves when boiled can be used as antiseptic for wounds. The young leaves can be chewed as a substitute for mouthwash. Just like me, those who are prone to motion sickness would benefit from the scent of the crushed young leaves.

The law of supply and demand states that when a product or service is limited, then we expect a higher price for it. Therefore, if guava is sold at 120 pesos a kilo now, then it means that as compared before, we don’t have a steady supply of this fruit now. Ironically, one could buy an apple now for 10 pesos each!
We are too focused on beautifying our gardens and backyards now. Unlike before, people now prefer concrete or tiled gardens and backyards for a cleaner look, leaving no space for trees to grow. There is also the limitation of a land area now especially on those who are living in small lot sizes but this should not be an issue because I saw people growing trees from large pots!

Now that everyone’s trying to go back to basics like going organic or turning into plantitos and plantitas, it wouldn’t hurt if we try planting trees again. Agree?