I am Ben Bareja and this About Me page is quite a revelation. I am the owner-founder-webmaster of CropsReview.Com.
This website was conceptualized primarily to serve as an e-library for
reference purposes on the principles and practices in crop science, including basic botany. Except for a few pages where I share authorship or my web host provides, I alone do the writing-authoring and publishing in this site.
The fondest memories of my childhood and younger days were moulded in rivers, rockies, seashores, forests, cliffs, my mother’s garden, our playground in General Santos City with those coconut trees that were tapped daily for toddy, and in my grandparents’ coconut-based farm in the province of South Cotabato, now Sarangani, Philippines.
Part of my life I spent in the farm where the only means of transportation were carabao and horse "power" and travelling on foot was a natural thing. Sometimes we had to walk a distance of about 12 km nonstop, without even drinking water, just to go to the market or to socialize. I cherished the experience.
I learned to ride a carabao bareback and had several experiences of separating from its back as sometimes it suddenly dashes forward when whipped from behind by childhood friends, scared, or enticed by the smell of a mate. We just laugh it off. It naturally happens…
I played dangerously with children of my age, leaping from one branch of a mango tree to another in imitation of Tarzan. I learned to climb a full-grown coconut tree (botanically a palm) with a bolo in one hand, occasionally racing upward against playmates and eating young coconut while straddled on a leafstalk at the top of the tree. But that was a long time ago. How I wish I could still do that!
While drying split coconut under the sun for copra, I was bitten by a centipede. I remember how painful it was, but the pain was gone after a few hours; I got stinged by wasps many times; I learned to identify wild plants which are edible and those which we used to treat scratches, wounds and various body ailment. Some plants we just avoided because they either slice or pierce the skin, cause itch, or are poisonous.
Telling about me also prompts going back to the wild.
There's something crazy about me too...
I caught a few cobra snakes barehanded and every time I regretted doing it. The last time I did, the snake squirted a saliva-like substance (it's venom!) on my bare chest as I held it by the neck and tail. I promised with more resolve right there and then that I wouldn't do such a foolish thing anymore ... only to fail. Again. The actual confrontation with this dangerous creature works in mysterious ways, numbing the nerves.
One time while visiting a farm I hurriedly left my companion, climbed a mango tree beside the trail, and caught a tokay gecko or lizard ("tuko") by grasping it hard by its neck. It became an occupant in our home at the city where its sound reminded me of our farm.
I agree that an educated man is one who knows that he has plenty more to learn. Learning something only propels one to crave for more learning. This applies especially to me, and know for a fact that I may be an authority in one field, and yet ignorant as to many.
I learned in law school too that arguments should be supported with legal citation in the same way that a comprehensive Review of Related Literature in agricultural research cites relevant findings and authoritative statements from reliable sources. Nevertheless, I realized long ago that oftenly it's futile to engage in discourse and so deemed it healthier in most cases to cultivate the sound of silence.
I also love mathematics. It's probably why I always try to dig deep in identifying causes of events or impediments. Likewise I always attempt to plan with mathematical precision. I apply the same in SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis.
Believing that every technology should be tested and skills need honing, I applied what I learned on mango starting as a farm technician for free, until I became a mango contractor.
I am one who teaches himself what the blackboard and books could not teach. I am one who teaches by doing it.
I also went into landscape designing and contracting. I was engaged in farm consultancy for a while. I became an avid bonsaist and got lucky at one time to have won the top prize in a national competition.
Bonsai is a fine medium to sharpen the skills in horticulture and related sciences including plant propagation methods, pruning, training, soil science, crop protection and applied physiology. And this can be done anywhere, even at home! If you can induce the dwarfing of trees, the more so that you can make them grow to their natural sizes.
I'm quite capable of talking about bonsai endlessly...
I love reading. I love collecting books, both fiction and non-fiction. Talking about me will naturally mean talking about books and reading. And movies too!
My little library allows me to explore the microscopic and macroscopic world, the kingdom Plantae from evolution to domestication, science, mathematics and technology, crop growing, and various topics including world history, personal development and legal matters. I especially collect L’Amour books and dictionaries as a passion. My meagre resources only allow me to buy most of these books from used-books stores but no matter.
It's unfortunate that I managed to buy a dictionary only when I was about to finish high school. My language proficiency could have been so much better. Now I have in my collection nearly 100 dictionaries and thesaurus no matter that the internet has become sophisticated. Now meanings, definitions, synonyms and antonyms can be easily found online.
The limbs have long deteriorated and injuries inflicted in the past show with frequency in the form of body pains. Yet the call of the wild is ever strong and the conqueror's blood remains pure. With patience, step after step, and mainly with a cane as support, I managed to reach the top and photographed that scenic image appearing on the header of this site's pages.
Finally I optionally retired from government service effective January 1, 2018. Since then I devoted much of my time to farming works. I realized though that I have plenty to learn.
Here in this farm I am in a new but hostile territory. Here I have encountered plenty of seemingly insurmountable challenges. To succeed in transforming it into my dream landscape I must have more foresight, I must see more through people around, I must be more exacting, more resourceful and more hardworking, with plenty of luck. Quite a long list, but otherwise I perish.
(edited March 2019)