“Bundok” means “mountain” in Tagalog.   To live “in the boondocks” is to live far out of town. We went to the boondocks yesterday to visit three families, Lina’s friends and distant relatives.   Each of the three families has a homestead that includes a traditional bamboo house or “bahay kubo”, livestock and a great variety of plants for food and medicine. I’ll show you these in subsequent posts, mostly photos, but first want to give you the setting.

Like farmers in NH 100 or 150 years ago, the people we visited grow a mix of subsistence and cash crops. Much of their own rice, meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit and medicinal herbs come from their compound and the fields beyond. However, they all rely on outside income to make ends meet. They mix human, animal and motor power to do their work. They live in communities where labor is shared at harvest and planting time. Their livelihood depends directly on the soil and the weather.

This family compound is sandwiched between the road and the fields that stretch toward Mt. Canlaon.  A carabao or water buffalo pulls the plow as a farmer prepares ground for planting.  Nearby, threshed rice, “palay” or “gumay” in the local language, dries in the sun.  On the other side of the road, a hill crowned with the valuable hardwood, narra, rises above the small community.

Inside the family compound I found a gas powered tiller designed to paddle through the flooded rice paddies, and a gas powered threshing machine that is pulled into the field by the carabao.  The palay is threshed in the field, separating the hay straw and the kernels, still tightly clasped in their papery husks that will be removed in the milling process after they have dried.

Carabao are draft animals, pulling carts, threshers, plows and carrying farmers home.   They can work hard in the high heat and humidity but must cool off, so every canal or stream becomes a place for them to bathe.

Our hosts at this first farm tend their homestead while the father also works outside.  They own a truck and hire a driver to haul sugar cane from the fields to the mills. (See last year’s post on Sugar Central for more on the sugar industry: https://orionblair.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/sugar-central-on-march-24-2013/) Their life is not easy and they do not complain.

Plowing

Plowing

RiceDrying

Palay drying in the field

Rice fields with Canlaon in the distance

Rice fields with Canlaon in the distance

Hill with narra on top, farm in front

Hill with narra on top, farm in front

Tiller for rice paddies

Tiller for rice paddies

Rice thresher, pulled by carabao

Rice thresher, pulled by carabao

Carabao!

Carabao!

Rice straw in front of paddy rice

Rice straw in front of paddy rice

Carabao cart

Carabao cart

Cowboy

Cowboy

Two bathing beauties

Two bathing beauties

Three bathing beauties!

Three bathing beauties!

Sugar cane truck

Sugar cane truck

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