by Virgil G. Madriņan

If you want to know what Paete is famous for, just listen closely to what people say when you introduce yourself as from Paete. I bet 99% of the times they will say: "Oh, from the town of sweet lanzones!" or "Oh, from the town of woodcarvings.."

During our last meeting (NE Chapter), somebody made a passing comment about lanzones. I don’t remember why it was mentioned. The person who mentioned it made this observation: Lanzones is very scarce now in Paete. They are either too small or some trees no longer bear fruits. And there is the outside of factor of the non-owner competitors.

Lanzones has never been an object of scientific and commercial endeavor. Our forefathers planted the seeds, grew the trees and that was it. I knew this from experience. I saw my grandfather doing it.

Lanzones is dying because hardly anybody cares about it anymore. Any chance of reviving it should start from a leadership. And where is the leadership going to come from? I guess the most logical place to expect it is from the town itself.

However, it is my feeling that most of our youth today are no longer interested in lanzones or anything that has to do with the soil. I can speak of one person I knew who was not interested in the soil, my father. I heard an anecdote that one day my grandfather asked my Dad why he was not interested in our kaingin and why he had not set foot on them since liberation. Family legend has it that he responded: "Hindi po alok sa akin ang mangaingin." There you go! I just mentioned this because I think it reflects the feeling of many young people today.

I am convinced that leadership will not come from Paetenians abroad. Their problem will be credibility. It is very easy to dismiss them with snide remarks like: If you are really interested in lanzones, why don’t you come back home and plant some?

Honestly, those of us who are overseas are too busy either tinkering with our cars, or paying our mortgage, or CNN or in front of our keyboards. (I am not ready yet to blame Rey Carolino for all of this). We simply don’t have time to plant a lanzones tree. Don’t feel guilty! It is not our fault. We just have different interests. I doubt if what we feel is genuine interest. Maybe I will call it nostalgia.

Just speaking for myself, I know that the mention of lanzones opens up a floodgate of memories. From a distance all we can do is watch it like the sunset --- on its way down. It will go the same route as the dinosaur or like many other plants that are extinct. This is Darwinian theory of Natural Selection on its march.

I suspect our interest in lanzones is driven more by nostalgia. We all have beautiful memories of that fruit.

Most of our trees are in their menopausal stage, excuse the choice of word and its metaphor. With few exceptions, most of the produce is warped. They are minuscule compared to the lanzones we knew during our youth. Most of our trees are ancestral trees. They were the same trees that gave fruits to our grandparents.

Woodcarving seemingly does not share the same fate. The skill on wood seems to be transferable to other media, like ice and it is thriving. Just ask Ross Navarro.

Any feedback will be appreciated. Those who know me well know that I was used to hearing "Amen" after I said something. This is not the kind of feedback I expect. LOL.

[February, 1999]

[Ver Madriņan is the Editor of the PAETENIANS INTERNATIONAL Newsletter. You can send him e-mail at:]