ANY viand that counts in tomato as ingredient can be zinged up with basil— as ancients have it, the plant negates evil intentions… and repels insect pests, say, Aedes aegypti or the dreaded dengue-carrier.
Basil—balanoy, albahaka in Tagalog—perks up salsa and pasta. Like the demonized tobacco, basil leaves and flowers are acceptable as offering to Krishna, uh, what’s a name, you can also call Him Yahweh, Jove, Ama, Allah or Amaterazu o Kami... such offering is often requited with boons not too palpable—safety of the household, inner strength and good luck. The leaves bring relief to colic, stomachache, and toothache.
Basil is grown at the eastern portion of the home or at the left side of the house’s main door to allow ambient breezes to swill out the plant’s insect-repellent bio-chemicals.
Full-grown basil and seedlings can be bought at Manila Seedling Bank Foundation plant stores at that spread of green over EDSA and Quezon Avenue in Quezon City; at the Bureau of Plant Industry nursery along Visayas Avenue a sneeze off the Quezon Memorial Circle or along San Andres St. in Manila; even at the rearmost portion of Mahogany Market in Tagaytay City that also sells other insect pest repelling plants:
(1) citronella or lemon grass whose sprigs go into roast chicken or suckling pig;
(2) bride of the sun or marigold, best planted at the household’s western section or near the kitchen to nudge easy cash flow for the home (as feng shui lore has it);
(3) malvarosa, a staple ingredient in pickles and sweet preserves especially makapuno coconut;
(4) chrysanthemum (or its nearest kin damong-maria) whose extracts go into plant-based insecticides and a nerve poison slathered at the tips of throwing daggers and star knives or shuriken;
(5) sweetsop or atis;
(6) madre de cacao or kakawate, with its spray of lilac and light pink blooms in summer, petals are subtly sweetish and can go into salads; and
(7) linga (literally, “penis” in Sanskrit) or sesame.
Ah, Musa… there’s a Musa coccinea among my green wards. Musa is banana, an herb whose soft trunk is a favorite hang-out for mosquitoes, dengue carriers included that suck on the banana sapling sap. It’s best planted at the home lot’s southeastern portion, as offering to Lakshmi, Hindu goddess of beauty and bounty.
Uh, bananas pack a certain biochemical that somehow oozes off the skin—and attracts mosquitoes. It won’t hurt to wean children off bananas during dengue season.