Photo by Flickr user Alma Gamil licensed under Creative Commons

Photo by Flickr user Alma Gamil licensed under Creative Commons

By Cornel Bongco

According to the Department of Trade and Industry Region 5 publication Trade Winds:

“The male workers are mainly in charge of harvest, delivery, and de-shelling, the last being an anecdote in itself. De-shelling a Pili Nut is an epic case of Man versus Machine, where Man refreshingly wins. Pili deshelling machines are not quite successful as they do crush the extremely hard, bony shell, but unfortunately tend to crush the precious kernel as well, in statistics too high for commercial viability. Retrieving a perfect Pili kernel requires precision only human hands can deliver; this is easily due to the centuries-old tradition of Pili-cracking, enough practice to beat any machine. The Bicolanos call the process pagtilad – cracking the tough nut using a bolo, with unbelievably rhythmic, graceful and accurate whacking. A paratilad expert could easily slice through the thick, hardwood-esque Pili shells, and finish 100 kilograms in a day’s work.”

Pili nut crackers (men who do de shelling locally are called paratilad expert) could reveal secrets to leaders like no one can. Technology does not solve all things. A paratilad expert beats machines in terms of accuracy and precision. Some leaders have a dependence on technology without realizing that technology can only do so much.

It takes the wonderful blend of man and technology working together to make things better. It takes a lot of skill and practice to crack an extremely hard bony shell without crushing the precious kernel. In a lot of organizations, some appear to be like that extremely hard, bony shell. Stubborn attitudes, constant disregard of rules, and to some a stone facade makes it difficult for some people to show the excellence they have within. And a lot of factors may be the cause. An offense or a painful past, emotional neglect by significant others and unrecognized talent are just some factors that may lead persons to develop a shell to protect themselves from further harm.

It takes the skill of an excellent leader to cut through that shell without crushing the person himself. Cutting through the hard shell could reveal the precious self that the person longs to exhibit given the chance in a safe and caring environment.

I have seen transformations like this happen, because of the wonderful skill of some leaders that makes individuals trust, open up and engage. Much like the paratilad expert. What do you do with the shell after unshelling the pili? Some use it for fuel as it burns greatly. I guess this is an area that needs much research as the world constantly needs alternative fuels. Like these people who use the shell as fuel, they use their past experiences as a fuel for their passion to help others cut through their own shells. But the creative farmers of Albay now uses the pili shell as nature inspired fashion accessories. such as necklaces, earrings and bracelets. And like these people we could use the former shell of persons as wonderful testimonies of transformation creating beauty like the Pili nut fashion accessories.

Cornel Bongco is in his own words, “a beggar who found Bread and want to share the delicious feast he enjoys.”