Remember our mango tree? The one that was filled with flowers at the beginning of summer? Well, very few of the flowers turned to fruits and what few fruits there were were much too high to reach. The winds took pity, shook the tree and down came the fruits, some of them hitting the concrete slabs and splitting because they were still very green and hard and not really ready for anyone’s digestion.
It was frustrating. We were dreaming of free mangoes all throughout the summer but the insects were always there ahead of us, pissing off the flowers until most of them just gave up and decided not to become fruits. We can’t afford to hire people to bag each fruit to keep the insects away, so Speedy instructed the house helpers to burn dry leaves to smoke the mango tree and chase the insects away.
At first, I objected. My instructions were to dump the dead leaves on the soil so they could decompose and make the soil more fertile. But when the insects that had made the mango tree their permanent habitat starting invading our bedroom, I started to see the wisdom in Speedy’s move.
So, the ritual goes on every day. Although the mango tree has lost its flowers and we’ve accepted the fact that we won’t be eating any of its fruits this year, the smoking continues to get rid of the insects.
Now, here’s the thing. I was chatting with an acquaintance about insects and smoking the mango tree when she started to berate me for adding to the air pollution. Whoa, I said, would it be friendlier to the environment if we used chemical based pesticides to spray the tree? Or why not just cut down the tree once and for all?
Now, this person fancies herself an environmentalist and an advocate for a cleaner earth. She is well versed with pesticide issues and she knew very well that the DENR has strict rules about cutting trees, especially very old ones. Just last year, the head of the Intramuros Administration got into serious trouble after cutting down 29 trees in front of the Manila Cathedral. MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando uprooted so many trees along Katipunan Avenue and got slapped with a cease and desist order. Bottom line, cutting down trees is a serious issue.
At any rate, we don’t want to cut down the mango tree. We just want to get rid of the insects, including mosquitoes that might be dengue carriers. And it didn’t sit well with me that this so-called environment lover had to turn it into a black-and-white issue. Because she was quite adamant, really. And we reached that point when I asked her if her family grills fish and meat in their backyard because the smoke from the grill contributes as much, if not more, pollution to the air as the burning of the dead leaves in our garden does. That shut her up and she slowly started to turn around and change the subject.
I understand that every person has to start caring for the environment. But when advocates start acting holier-than-thou, it pisses me off. The way some of them go about their advocacy, we might as well stop cooking our food because the heat worsens the green house effect. Ah, that’ll make the extreme vegans happy, wouldn’t it? Would it be redundant to say they’re entitled to eat and live as they please — but so are the rest of us? Because if we’re going to talk about minimizing heat production and pollution, we might as well stop breathing altogether so as not to release more carbon dioxide into the air.
So, to this person who has so much to say about how we smoke the mango tree in our garden — and I know she reads my blog — all the photos in this entry are for you. I hope you choke in the smoke.