Skip to main content

Balatbat


DALAWA ang nakagiliwan ko sa halamanang kalapit sa dati naming tanggapan sa Malakanyang—magkasunong puno ng yakal at balatbat.

Nabubungal ang ngipin ng lagari sa yakal—pinakamatibay ang kahoy sa angkan ng lawaan, isama pa ang narra. Tigas na, kunat pa talaga kaya panlatag na travieza sa riles ng tren… hindi nabubulok kahit mababad sa tubig at halihawin ng matinding init at lamig, panghaligi rin sa mga sinaunang bahay na bato.

Pero mas maliit pa sa binhi ng linga o sesame seed ang sa yakal… parang munting butil ng pananampalataya na kapag ipinunla, inaruga’t napalago—ganoon ang tagubilin ng Kristo—talagang titindig na matatag, hindi maigugupo.

Ah, balatbat… Marikit na kaanak ng anahaw ang balatbat, abaniko mistula ang malapad na dahon na tila nakalahad na luntiang palad sa pagtanggap ng biyaya. Oo ka, pambansang laro na sa Pilipinas ang halihaw-abaniko o arnis… at abaniko rin ang pamamaraan sa balisong, mayuming paru-paro ang pamatay na pagaspas para lumaslas at umutas.

May talim at lalim ang pagkakaugnay ng balatbat sa balisong…

Masalang man sa matagal na init ng apoy, hindi nasusunog ang murang dahon—ang nakatikom pang ibus, tila pinid na abaniko o nakatiklop na balisong—ng balatbat. And such slow fire resistance is a necessity in the extraction by simmering of a steroid glycoside called [beta]-Antiarin from latex culled off Antiaris toxicaria or the deadly upas tree… uh, tinatawag mang pugad ng mga ulupong ang Malakanyang, walang nakatanim sa paligid na upas ni ubas.

Mapait ang lasa ng glycoside, isang uri ng plant-derived chemical na alkaloid (tulad ng heart-healthy carotenoid and flavonoid) na tila kawing-kawing na mga bilog na hugis itlog… teka, nagtataglay ang dagta ng upas ng may 30 uri ng ganitong likas na gamot… the technical term is cardenolide or heart-stopping poison… pampatigil sa tibok ng puso…

Tama kayo, katutubong kaalaman lang ‘to pero nito lang 1973 at 1979 natukoy sa pananaliksik na sandamakmak pala ang taglay na kamandag sa dagta ng upas. Pero talagang kahanga-hanga ang pamamaraan na hindi ginagamitan ng mga kasangkapan sa laboratoryo… low, slow hearth fire kept going for days for thermal extraction of the deadly compound off Antiaris latex gobs cupped upon an immature balatbat frond… ganoon katibay ang murang dahon ng balatbat, pasubali sa kasabihan na kahoy mang babad sa tubig, kapag dinarang sa init, sapilitang magdirikit…

Oo nga pala, magkarugtong ang pait ng [beta]-Antiarin at tamis ng [alpha] L-Rhamnose (isang uri ng asukal) sa sandamakmak na lason mula dagta ng upas… para mabilis na kumalat ang lason kapag naisalin sa ugat na daluyan ng dugo… para makarating agad sa puso… dim sum sa wikang Cantonese, “pisil sa puso.”

‘Yun ang pisil na pipigil sa pintig ng puso.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Every single cell of my body's happy

I got this one from Carmelite Sisters from whose school three of my kids were graduated from. They have this snatch of a song that packs a fusion metal and liebeslaud beat and whose lyrics go like this:

"Every single cell of my body is happy. Every single cell of my body is well. I thank you, Lord. I feel so good. Every single cell of my body is well."

Biology-sharp nerds would readily agree with me in this digression... Over their lifetimes, cells are assaulted by a host of biological insults and injuries. The cells go through such ordeals as infection, trauma, extremes of temperature, exposure to toxins in the environment, and damage from metabolic processes-- this last item is often self-inflicted and includes a merry motley medley of smoking a deck a day of Philip Morris menthols, drinking currant-flavored vodka or suds, overindulgence in red meat or the choicest fat-marbled cuts of poultry and such carcass.

When the damage gets to a certain point, cells self-destruct. T…

KASI NANLABAN

Viagra au naturel

IT LOOKED eerie—a blaze of fireflies pulsing like stars in the nippy air, throbbing with mating passions. That show of lights somehow eased the shadows of a Holy Thursday night on a dry river bed a few kilometers trudge up Mount Makiling.

It’s likely that no river has lain in sleep for months on that moss-grown, boulder-strewn bed—except my 20-year old kid Kukudyu and I. We were out to spend the night, do on-site learning sessions by the next day. Usual father-and-son bonding. As the late Benjamin Franklin once begged: "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."

Past noon from the foot of the mountain’s northern section, it took us four hours ploughing non-stop through prickly bushes and forest undergrowth to get to that site. We got there in one bruised piece. By then, dusk was falling; the sylvan air hummed with a trill of crickets, cicadas, critters nameless in choral orison. That incessant “sh-r-r-e-eemmm---“ layered with “k-kr-r-eeengg--” …