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Flight chronicles of the backpacker Tutubi, with travelogues, pictures/photos/videos, travel guides, independent and honest reviews, affordable, recommended resorts and hotels (including inns, guesthouses, pension houses, lodges, hostels, condotels, bed and breakfast and other cheap accommodations), commuting guides, routes (sometimes street maps and GPS coordinates/waypoints) and driving directions to answer "how to get there" questions, information and tips on tourism, budget travel and living in Philippines, Exotic Asia and beyond!

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    Aratilis: Sweet Memories of Childhood

    Almost every "promdi" (from the province) person Tutubi knows has vivid memories of this tree, growing wild in almost every nook and cranny of the Philippines, and climbed by children searcing for succulent red fruits resembling cherries. Children and adults love to taste it yet you'll never see it being sold at public markets probably due to its ubiquity.

    In his own experience, aratilis "cherries," called mansanitas in the Visayas, are not sweet during rainy days unlike in hot, summer ones, quite bland actually. It's also not good to partake of it if it's overripe. Eat it with just the right ripeness and it's a sure winner.

    a ripe fruit of aratilis with two green ones

    Aratilis trees are not native to the Philippines, they came from Southern America, probably brought by the Spaniards by way of Mexico. This is similar to the abundance of the waterways-choking water hyacinths, erroneously called water lily by most Filipinos.

    an aratilis tree somewhere in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija providing shade to a restaurant

    According to Wikipedia:
    "Muntingia calabura, the sole species in the genus Muntingia, is a flowering plant native to southern Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and western South America south to Peru and Bolivia. Common names include (English) Jamaican cherry, Panama berry, Singapore cherry, Strawberry tree; (Spanish) bolaina yamanaza, cacaniqua, capulín blanco, nigua, niguito, memizo or memiso; and (Filipino) aratilis, aratiles, manzanitas.

    It is a small tree 7-12 meters tall with tiered and slightly drooping branches. It has serrated leaves 2.5-15 cm long and 1-6.5 cm wide. The flowers are small and white and gives rise to 1-1.5 cm light red fruit. The fruit is edible, sweet and juicy, and contains a large number of tiny (0.5 mm) yellow seeds."

    Tutubi has a small aratilis tree at his rooftop garden that he's trying to turn into a butterfly garden.

    How about you? Do you also have childhood memories of the aratilis?

    Labels:


    posted by backpacking philippines @ 8:38 PM,

    24 Comments:

    At Sep 28, 2008, 9:23:00 PM, Blogger gene said...

    We used to eat aratilis during summer vacation in my sister's place in Novaliches or aunts' in Fairview. I prefer those almost ripe fruits and really hate the red ones. Now that I live in Marikina and have easy access to aratilis, I don't like to eat them anymore, I don't know why but the kids here still love them.

     
    At Sep 29, 2008, 5:49:00 PM, Blogger carlotta said...

    i loooove aratilis. used to try (the key word is try) to climb up the tree to get the aratilis hanging invitingly from the higher branches, but had to settle using rocks to stand on or sticks to pull down the branches to get the fruit. man, you got me craving for some right now. ;p

     
    At Sep 29, 2008, 9:19:00 PM, Blogger Kyels said...

    What does it taste like? Like cherries?

    ;)

     
    At Sep 29, 2008, 9:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Madalas Kayata sa Cabanatuan City or Central Luzon? Try the pastries at N.E. Bakery parang panglaban sa Goldilocks

     
    At Sep 29, 2008, 9:47:00 PM, Blogger Achilles said...

    Do you mind visiting my province Umingan, Pangasinan.

    How to get there? Go to San Jose, Nueva Ecija. the last town of Nueva Ecija I think about 30 to 1 hour trip from Cabanatuan City. There is is short cut there going to Pangasinan. If I can recall yuo will pass the infamous town of Lupao. The scenery is great.

    Our house is right in the heart of the town across the elementary school near a funeral parlor. My grandfather call his lot "Villa Verde" but his land were already been divided and sold by my relatives. We are the one only left that hasn't totally sold the entire lot.

    The last name is Castillo-Nadela. thanks

     
    At Oct 1, 2008, 12:12:00 PM, Blogger tutubi said...

    gene, it's mostly for the kids. but it's good to be a kid at heart :P

    carlotta, your own memmories of the tree hehe

    kyels, like berries but not quite. should you manage to go back here ask around. trees are easy to find even on highways

    anonymous, i know of NE, even the one at Crossing, Cabanatuan. There are now branches of NE at Walter Mart :P

    achilles, my driver when I wento to isabela poined me to that road. can't go out of my way in trips unless it's a personal expense though. thanks for the invite

     
    At Oct 1, 2008, 12:20:00 PM, OpenID rina said...

    omigosh i haven't seen an aratilis tree in years! we used to have a big tree in front of the house, but it had to be cut down when a terrace extension was built. yes, aratilis is definitely one of those childhood memory trees, along with, in my case, guava :)

     
    At Oct 2, 2008, 6:33:00 AM, Blogger Photo Cache said...

    my story goes like this: when we were kids we used to pick aratilis from our tree. back in tarlac it was more popularly called --in my town at least--SARESA. so what we did was pick saresa and cook it with panocha. our finish product is a sweetened dessert we called sweet saresy, you know kids we thought of crazy things.

    thanks for this walk down memory lane.

     
    At Oct 2, 2008, 11:44:00 PM, Anonymous freeze said...

    mansanitas sure does bring childhood memories. we had this in our backyard, i fight over this with my siblings hehehe. I wonder if it's still there, I'll check that out in the morning. :D

     
    At Oct 3, 2008, 9:40:00 AM, Anonymous bw said...

    we call it "sarisa" in Ilonggo. I remember us climbing these trees when we were kids :) We use to eat buckets of these sweet things ! That's probably where we took the energy to play all day :)

     
    At Oct 3, 2008, 11:42:00 PM, Blogger Nyl said...

    Mansanitas is the first fruit that I came to be so familiar back when I was little. We had a big tree of it in our backyard almost giving our shanty a good shed. Ahh!i miss the times when we used to play with my siblings under a 'mansanitas' or aratilis tree and we even enjoy eating its fruit. I had good memories of it too like you did.

     
    At Oct 4, 2008, 1:20:00 AM, Blogger Achilles said...

    Tuts,

    My parents town is only about 15 mins from San Jose. You can also go to Urdaneta and Carmen using the road from the town. It is faster.

    I used to go to school in Cabanatuan at CIC near where Luna was killed it is called Plaza Lucero. I live in Aduas before

     
    At Oct 4, 2008, 5:02:00 AM, Anonymous RennyBA said...

    Sorry, but no aratilis growing in Norway, but I do understand what you mean.

     
    At Oct 4, 2008, 9:57:00 PM, Blogger tutubi said...

    rina, i also have fond memories of bayabas trees :P

    photo cache, unique recipe made from aratilis? unique!

    freeze, any update on the tree? :P

    bw, so you're another sarisa-powered child back then hehe

    Nyl, nice memories. it's really better to grow up in the province than in the city

    Achilles, is that Carmen Rosales town? yeah, i saw that cathedral last time but no picture since heavy rains fell

    rennyba, yeah, i remember you also posted a similar entry about a tree and memories

     
    At Oct 6, 2008, 10:12:00 AM, Blogger Nicely said...

    it tastes pretty good with rock salt! i used to climb this tree way back grade school... in d schoolyard, in our neighbor's back yard, in my aunt's frontyard, even those growing on streets. with friends, aritilis tastes like heaven!

     
    At Oct 6, 2008, 9:16:00 PM, Blogger tutubi said...

    nicely, i didn't even try it with rock salt, just plain goodness. i guess it's your own way :P

     
    At Oct 13, 2008, 6:24:00 PM, Anonymous palma tayona said...

    aratiles! goodness gracious. i haven't heard that fruit's name for ages.

    at the end of the street where i grew up in sampaloc, there's an old aratiles tree we would raid every summer. we don't eat the fruit but we use them as pellets for our slingshots! we'd pick the reddest fruit - the overripe ones. not only do they sting but it splatters red on the enemy camps' clothes. i never did like the taste of the fruit. it leaves a "tangy" taste on the tongue that i would sometimes scrape off.

    aratiles, slingshot, tongue-scraping... some images of my youhtful summer.

     
    At Oct 13, 2008, 10:04:00 PM, Blogger tutubi said...

    palma, so you have your own childhood story about it. it's a good thing they don't stain on clothes :P

     
    At Apr 26, 2009, 2:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I ate seresas in Guam. There was a tree growing behind my bus stop. They were a tasty treat before and after school. Then again when I lived at Subic Bay-sweet goodness. It had been so long since I had thought about them. Then I googled it. For awhile there, I thought that I had hallucinated them. But thanks to all of your memories I know they really did exist. Tons of memories from kindergarten and elementary school. My two favorite fruits- seresas and mangosteens!

     
    At May 27, 2009, 3:04:00 PM, Anonymous silentmode said...

    i love manzanitas very much.we called it in our dialect as saresa or seresa. it grows around our piece of land somewhere near the river. i misses the sweet and juicy taste of it when it is ripe. Its another kind of something i misses a lot in our province. 2 manzanitas grow in my aunts yard, which really need an effort to clean its leaves every morning. What I never forget is that my little fell down from this tree when we are young because they used to climb up there when they are playing " chasing" with my cousins. and it causes him to stay at home for a little bit time. The birds like this fruit during the day. and the bat likes it at night time. and the children like it even adult day and night.....hmmmmm....yummy

     
    At Apr 19, 2010, 1:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I dont like the taste of 'nigüito', thats the tree name in Ecuador. Bats love this fruit.(not joke)

    Tiene demasiadas semillas y cierto regusto desagradable.

     
    At Jun 20, 2010, 8:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    brings back memories

     
    At Apr 25, 2011, 8:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    can i ask if the cranberry is the same as aratilis?

     
    At Apr 25, 2011, 8:35:00 PM, Blogger サモンテクリス said...

    can i ask if cranberry is the sames as the aratilis your talking about?

     

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