Agriculture - - Her Own Niche - BY MILAGROS B. GON­ZA­LEZ

SHE IS THE MOTHER of celebrity Drew Arel­lano and the mother-in-law of an­other celebrity, Iya Vil­la­nia; she is also the daugh­ter of for­mer Pan­gasi­nan gov­er­nor and min­is­ter of the Depart­ment of Agrar­ian Re­form Con­rado Estrella Sr. But Ber­nadette E. Arel­lano, 68, of Rosales, Pan­gasi­nan, has cre­ated her niche in the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try as a quiet but pow­er­ful force in the pro­mo­tion of malung­gay, the so-called “won­der veg­etable.” MALUNG­GAY’S BEN­E­FITS “Bernie,” as Arel­lano is fondly called, is con­vinced of the nu­tri­tional ben­e­fits and heal­ing pow­ers of malung­gay. Thus, she wants this veg­etable prop­a­gated and con­sumed by peo­ple of all ages na­tion­wide.

Malung­gay’s sci­en­tific name is Moringa oleifera; in English, it is known as the “drum­stick” or “horse radish” tree. It is abun­dant in the Philip­pine coun­try­side as a back­yard veg­etable, and is a pop­u­lar ad­di­tion to bread, soup, and var­i­ous viands. Filipino recipes like tinolang manok, corn soup with malung­gay, and malung­gay-en­riched pan­desal all con­tain the leafy green veg­etable.

Packed with nu­tri­ents like cal­cium, iron, phos­pho­rus and vi­ta­mins—es­pe­cially Vi­ta­mins A and C—it has many medic­i­nal uses, with all its plant parts uti­lized for that pur­pose. The young leaves of the malung­gay are fed to lac­tat­ing mothers to in­crease their flow of breast milk. Malung­gay fruits and leaves are good for con­sti­pa­tion, hy­per­ten­sion, gout, and asthma. Pow­dered roots are used for in­flam­ma­tion and swelling.

So many are malung­gay’s health ben­e­fits that Arel­lano her­self con­sumes five cap­sules of malung­gay ev­ery morn­ing, noon, and evening. She be­lieves her quick re­cov­ery after pan­creas surgery—much to her doc­tor’s amaze­ment—was due to malung­gay’s ben­e­fits.

HER AD­VO­CACY Arel­lano founded the Moringal­ing Philip­pines Foun­da­tion, Inc. (MPFI) in 2009 to “build up a strong, sus­tain­able and glob­ally com­pet­i­tive moringa in­dus­try in the Philip­pines.” Mem­bers in­clude farm­ers, pro­ces­sors, ex­porters, con­sumers, ex­porters, and health en­thu­si­asts.

Ev­ery year, the foun­da­tion or­ga­nizes the Moringa Congress, dur­ing which mem­bers meet to share ex­pe­ri­ences, lis­ten to dis­cus­sions of trends and ad­vances in the in­dus­try, and net­work with other par­tic­i­pants. Although Arel­lano is no longer the chair­per­son of the MPFI, she ac­tively par­tic­i­pates in its ac­tiv­i­ties.

She be­lieves that malung­gay is the key to pre­vent­ing mal­nu­tri­tion among chil­dren and she strongly ad­vo­cates for its prop­a­ga­tion and con­sump­tion. Arel­lano main­tains four

The malung­gay ad­vo­cate, Ber­nadette E. Arel­lano, at her res­i­dence in Ros­ales, Pan­gasi­nan.

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