Biking Along the Fields of San Jose
There is no much itineraries for our stay in San Jose so we thought of borrowing some bikes and pedal through the town and through its fields. While Manila’s roads are too scary for cycling, here in the province we can freely bike at the roadside or at the highway because only a few vehicles are passing here. I can’t explain the different feeling of being perspired and at the same time savoring the fresh breeze.
Six kilometers from the town center we reached Barangay Mabini. We went straight to the dirt road and passing by the ricefields at both sides. We cut short our biking at the hillside. At the hill there is a pond which serves as primary source of the cow’s drinking water.
It is also the far edge of the field so we descended and watched over the farmers here.
WATERMELON AND MELON FARM
The large town of San Jose is blessed with wide plains. And its rich soil are planted with palay, corn, onion, watermelon, melon and various food crops.
It is February so the crops planted in the fields are mostly watermelons and melons. According to Mang Jun, one of the residents, we came just the right time because they planted them in December and harvesting is after three months. They told in detail how the seedlings were planted. They took great care in cultivating them especially when it rains (the rains can damage the vines and the fruits) and at this time he prepared to spray the plants.
After harvest, they would be preparing the soil to plant palay.
After several minutes of chatting we pedaled towards the town. While on our way we noticed the large rice mills.
To have an idea on what happens to the harvested palay, we peeked in one of the large rice mills here. We were given permission to enter (we agreed never to disclose the name). Upon entry we were greeted by the towering stacks of sacks of rice. I wondered if these are already sufficient to minimize our reliance on rice import?
There is a large grinding machine in one corner. We can see here how the palays are winnowed, that is, how the chaffs (palay skin) are removed, and the product is a white, milled rice which go straight to the sack. Each rice is graded depending on the quality of the palay.
SUNSET AT HILLSIDE
It is already late afternoon when we returned to the farm near the hillside. Beside it is the pond which blends well with the setting sun. The weather is fine and we watched the cotton ball clouds on the sky. Though it is dry season and the hills are brown, we focused on taking photos of the setting sun.
- Mabini is 6 kilometers from the town. You can take a tricycle or ride a van or bus going to Magsaysay or Calapan.
- Though Mabini just a part of San Jose you can also see similar farms in Labangan, Central and other barangays and nearby towns.
DASH OF HISTORY
- Barangay Mabini’s old name was Labangan. Since two other barrios of San Jose share the same name, the residents here opted to change the name to Mabini to avoid ambiguity, and also to honor one of the heroes of the country.
- When Mindoro Sugar Company started its operation in Central in 1911, a part of Mabini is a sugarcane plantation. Tons of sugarcane harvested from this land were hauled by train and milled at the sugar central. After World War 2 the capitalist landowners disappeared and the farmlands were awarded to the farmers who then planted other kinds of crops.
After the crops were harvested and delivered to far-flung areas, the remaining melons and watermelons can be seen being sold at the roadside or just outside the homes. It is better to buy at homes or at the farmside. You can buy one sack of melon for PhP500.