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.
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 with mixed varieties of mango trees, 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 and back 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.
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.
Telling about me is like going back to the wild…
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 authorities in the same way that a comprehensive review of related literature is an essential part of agricultural research.
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 taught myself what the blackboard could not teach. I also went into landscape designing and contracting. 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 just completed one season of crop productivity study in South Cotabato with the Department of Science and Technology. It involved my provision of free consultancy assistance to various horticultural farms, mainly grown to mango, durian, mangosteen, other fruit crops and cacao, solely, mixed or integrated with livestock animals.
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. I’m also starting with Pulitzer-winning books.
You can learn more about me and cropsreview.com from the pages in this site. The nav bars and the table of contents on the home page offer convenience in exploring the whole site.
(edited September 2012)