The passing of veteran actor Susan Roces has left many people in mourning. Roces was not only a stalwart of Philippine cinema, she was also a kind soul who touched the lives of many.
A reader sent us a photo of Agriculture Monthly’s 15th Anniversary issue which featured Roces and her dragon fruit plants on the cover. In honor of Ms. Susan Roces, I am reprinting part of former Manila Bulletin Agriculture editor and Agriculture Monthly’s founding editor Zac Sarian’s article in said issue. Enjoy!
Dragon fruit thrills Susan Roces
By ZAC SARIAN
Recently, on August 28, Ms. Roces sent us a paper bag full of ripe dragon fruit with an accompanying letter she wrote in her own penmanship. Let me quote:
Dear Mr. Sarian,
Let me share with you my joy from the dragon fruit harvest I got from my garden.
A few years ago a friend gave me the plant she got from your plant nursery in Teresa.
I planted it in a pot and took good care of it yet the growth was so slow. It bloomed and gave me one fruit.
In one of your Agriculture Magazine I saw pictures and read the article on how they were grown in the Ilocos region, in sunny areas in plots propped in poles.
To blend with the rest of the landscape in my garden I had two plant boxes made with an entry way in the center, installed wire mesh across, filled the boxes with garden soil and dried chicken dung. I brought a few more dragon fruit plants and added them to what I originally had.
With not much care they grew so fast and lush and in a few months had lovely white blooms which later developed into fruits.
The red fruits looked so beautiful on the vine. I enjoyed looking at them first before harvesting. Thank you Mr. Sarian for propagating and making us aware of plants and trees and how they can give us so much pleasure.
Thanks also, Ms. Roces, for the bag of dragon fruits from your garden. We shared them with the editors and staff of the vernacular magazines Liwayway, Banawag, Bisaya, and Hiligaynon published by the Manila Bulletin. Surely they enjoyed partaking of your healthful fruits. Some of them only tasted dragon fruit for the first time—then they were also excited to plant their own dragon fruit! They want to follow Ms. Roces’ footsteps in gardening. I promised to give them some planting materials.
There is really much joy in growing one’s own fruit-bearing plants and enjoying their fruits, not just the eating but also the harvesting.
Incidentally, dragon fruit is increasingly becoming popular not only with hobbyists but also with business-minded entrepreneurs who grow them for commercial purposes. Aside from the Ilocos, there are commercial farms in Pangasinan, Laguna, Cavite, and elsewhere….
Back to the dragon fruit. This is one plant that does not require as much attention as other fruit trees. The dragon fruit is a cactus that can live and remain productive for many years. That is why it is necessary to provide concrete support for it.
There are three varieties being grown. The most widely planted is the white-fleshed variety, which produces bigger fruits that are slightly sweet, and is good for diabetes. The other varity has dark red flesh and is much sweeter. A third variety is rarely seen in the Philippines. It has yellow skin and white flesh that is sweet.
Aside from being consumed as fresh fruit, processed products have been made by researchers from Cavite State University as well as by the commercial growers themselves. There are dragon fruit processed products like jam, yoghurt, ice cream, dragon fruit juice, pastillas, and others. Even the flowers are used for food.
Anyway, why don’t you try planting your own dragon fruit just like Ms. Susan Roces? We are sure that the fruits of your own plants will thrill you the way they thrilled Ms. Roces.
This article appeared in Agriculture Magazine’s July 2022 issue.