orang putih (white man) planters of rubber estates during the colonial time.
But both planters needed land to plant. The orang putih cleared jungle to plant rubber trees, the Nangka planter planted Nangka trees to keep the land clear.
More than 10 years ago, half of the six-acre Holy Family cemetery land was still covered with old rubber trees. Due to complaints from the nearby residents (falling leaves, mosquitoes, snakes) and soil erosion, the rubber trees were chopped down.
But undergrowth and erosion remained a problem. So the church decided to allow a parishioner free use of the land to plant banana trees in order to keep the land clear of undergrowth.
The banana project was not successful. The land was left wild for a while and maintenance was a major concern. That's was when Robert Tan volunteered to clear up the land and planted Nangka trees.
The initial costs of buying seedlings, fertiliser, engaging labourers must be quite a substantiate amount. The trees fruit only after two to three years. However, the Nangka trees kept the land clean and tidy.
He is happy seeing the place clean. He enjoys what he is doing partly it gives him some exercise. He obliges friends that asking for fruit (and mostly free of charge) ... me being one of them. Besides that he too has to put up with "fruit thieves" that come in to steal.
After the trees matured and fruiting, he has suggested to hand over the Nangka trees to the church (he asked for no payment). However, looking after an orchard small it is, is no easy task. So.... no taker.... but I am sure many talkers!
The Holy Family Catholic Cemetery looks serene and peaceful with the Nangka trees as the backdrop... it is far cry from the day when undergrowth... falling trees... mosquitoes.... formed the unsightly picture of the cemetery.
I personally would like to thank Robert for his hard work...... I was the head of the Cemetery Committee then (I stepped downed 3 years ago), and was having headache over the old rubber trees, and later the unused land until Robert came to the rescue.
Robert is a good wise man. He plants not only good Nangka trees, also has planted many trees of good value and virtue in many hearts, young and old, through his good deed and example.
He is my mentor. I can consult him on any matter, any time. He has a heart of gold and a stomach that can sail a ship.(Chinese saying: a prime minister's stomach can sail a ship, which means "big heart", "forgiving" "bears no grudge")
He is a retired teacher. He spends most of his time for the service of the church and people. He is an Archdiocesan formator in BEC building and Christian leadership.
Wah.... quite a long story! And this is just a small part of the planter story .... If I write more on his jokes ...... it will be "a different story"... （more picture at bottom)