Talahib 1


by Tin Bartolome

Posted at Oct 10 2013 05:40 PM | Updated as of Oct 11 2013 01:40 AM

I have always been fascinated by the talahib. It’s the tall grass you see on empty lots with white flowers like giant feathers.

Talahib 2

Scientifically known as saccharum spontaenum, it is also called “wild sugarcane” and grows as high as 3.5 meters tall. Traditionally used for making hats, brooms, baskets, walls and even furniture, it has been used in Ayurveda as an astringent, emollient, refrigerant, diuretic and many others— even as an aphrodisiac!

Recent studies suggest that it is a potential source of bio-ethanol and bio-diesel!

Talahib 3
Graceful flowers

Apart from all these, the blooms are lovely to look at as they sway gracefully in the wind, releasing tiny white cotton-like tufts every now and then. When I was in 7th grade, my mother was summoned by the principal because I had attempted to pick talahib flowers outside our classroom window. If I had known that those tall grasses grew everywhere, even along ravines, I probably would have had second thoughts about going out on the ledge to pick the flowers!

I was a member of the first batch of “pioneers” who had to bear attending classes half the school year in a room we shared with another section. The classrooms had windows--without glass panes!

During the rainy days, we would all move our chairs away from the windows and strain our ears to listen to our teachers who had to compete with the strong rain and occasional thunderstorms. There were other distractions in the new building. On the other hill not too far away was an exclusive boys’ school known for accepting “kickouts” as we called them then (those kicked out of their schools). One afternoon, we saw something being set up, which later turned out to be a Ferris wheel for their school fair. As the wheel turned, we saw a person hanging from a bar where the seats would have been installed.

But to me, nothing outside the window was as attractive as those white, feather-like blooms. I succumbed to what I thought were their faint calls and was finally able to hold a stalk in my hand. I stroked the soft blossoms and marveled at the way they gracefully fell off the stalk. A curious classmate’s sudden attempt to grab the stalk from me somehow caused the leaves to brush against my arm, the sharp edges cutting my skin.


Like the rose, this plant had a defense of its own! Even people are like that--they may look and feel delicate and fluffy but could be very sharp--and cause real pain! Knowing the plant well, where those sharp edges are and how to handle the flowers and the stalks helps prevent such cuts--and the pain that goes with it.

In the same way, when we relate to people, we should know them well so we are able to avoid the sharp edges. Today, I know how to handle those talahib grasses so well, I don’t go near them anymore. I just take photographs and appreciate them from a distance!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.