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 molded 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.
But 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 beautiful but dangerous creature works in mysterious ways, numbing the nerves.
I agree that an educated man is one who knows that he has plenty more to learn. 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 statements from reliable sources.
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.
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 (click to read how I apply bonsai rules in pruning fruit trees).
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.
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. I have in my collection nearly 100 dictionaries and thesaurus no matter that meanings, definitions, synonyms and antonyms can now be easily found online.
You can learn more about me from the pages in this site written in first person (with the use of "I" or "We"). The nav bars and the table of contents on the Home page and on top of this page should offer convenience in exploring the whole site.
One more funny revelation about me is that I was new to the world of computers and the internet (I'm still struggling!) when I launched cropsreview.com. It took me at least three months of vigorous research and mental stretching to find the right web host and to learn how to create a web site.
I did find SBI! and finally engaged its web hosting services even knowing that there were "free" hosts. I never regretted the decision. In fact it's probably one of the finest decisions that I ever made. Cropsreview.com has been on the web close to 9 years now but I never found any issue that would tend me to severe my relation with SBI!.
The tools, tutorials and services that it provides are all worth it, clearly so many times in excess of the expense. They work!
(edited March 2019)