Is-is tree – Ficus Ulmifolia Lamk
We have a tree we call is-is in the Philippines when I was growing up. To me it is a special tree although it has no medicinal value. It’s use is more of a utilitarian in nature. The leaves which are big and green are abrasive so we use it for cleaning pots and pans and other utensils in the kitchen hence the name “is-is”, a word which is the act of scouring or cleaning something like a wok maybe. We even use it in scrubbing wood floors. Back then we don’t have steel wools or nylon scouring pads. We used it together with ashes from the rice mill as an additional abrasive powder like Ajax.
I think we should consider having this tree in our backyards as an organic way of cleaning things in the kitchen. The best part is you can just toss it in the compost pile after using it. To me that’s neat or cool.
We also have a vegetable we call “patola” or luffa gourd. My grandma let some gourd to get mature before picking to gather seeds to save for future planting, the gourd needs to be brown and really dry. After taking the seeds, she will remove the outer skin and use the fiber that was left for dish washing or for bath sponge which we now call luffa. I’m so excited to know that we have been doing things organically when I was growing up without being aware of it. I like to go back home now and try to let my family, relatives, friends and the community to be aware of this and they can start planting Isis tree and luffa gourd in their backyards.