The Plant that Devoured Bataan

Over the last few years I’ve regaled you with tales of building, repairing and improving out house on the mountain here in Bataan Philippines. This is a story of carnage and destruction by an act of nature on an unpatrolled scale, and no, it is not a Typhoon, Earthquake or Flood. This havoc had been caused by a 29 peso potted plant. Are you as shocked as I am?

To spin this yarn, I must ask you all once again to board the Way-back Machine with *Mr. Peabody and his trusted friend Sherman plus me as we digress back to the year “2000”. Hey if you believed in the Y2K Bug, than the Way-back machine is not much of a stretch is it?

The year 2000 I had just retired from my sea going life and had returned to our home in Dinalupihan Bataan. My wife gave me a day or two to adjust and then pointed out that our back yard was nothing but loose Pinatubo dust and that it covered everything from her fresh laundry to my man cave. I sprung into action, as that laundry had just become my number one priority in life; the Man Cave was fitted in there somehow too.

I hired a crew and we marked of an area for plants and grasses, and commenced to pave the remainder with cement. A week or so later it was done, or so I thought. We still needed the plant area finished, and my wife Mayang was not one to leave that to chance. She hired a landscaping firm to come in with the planting materials and all that was needed for her beautification project. Did I fail to mention I have a small front yard that was also included in that contract? Well it was.

Article continues below photos.  Click on the photo for a larger view.

The crew sculptured a religious shrine with statues added plus everything required having a shrine in the front yard. I’m now worrying that I’ll have to put up with pilgrims making trips to my house to sit vigil, awaiting some form of miracle to reveal itself. Okay I worried about nothing, as it didn’t happen.

So the front yard is complete and now they move to the back yard which is where my man cave, oops, I mean laundry is covered in dust. Digging and planting working and toiling and all the time I was consuming vast amounts of the nectar from that little brown bottle, henceforth to be referred to as “SMB’s” or San-Magoo’s.

Mr. Guy-In-Charge points out to my wife that a fish pond with adjoining waterfall would be the crowning point of her backyard, and that it would be a think of legend, plus expanding his profit margin exponentially. Do you remember that I’d spoke of SMB’s? My Mayang had discovered that they tend to be on her side when she is requesting things from me somewhat of a lubricant. I swear a curse on beer! No! No! I’m just joking, really!

Okay as you can see by the attached pictures the fishpond became a part of our life. Zoom forward to last year, my wonderful wife caught me in a moment of weakness (I believe it was 12 year, Tanduay Superior Rum involved this time) “Honey-Ko we need cover over the fishpond to cut down on the amount of Algae.” I jump up searching for Mr. Guy-In-Charge as I know he’s back trying to make more money.

But I said yes and even wrote about it here on LiP last year. But that’s where it all went wrong. With one potted plant we unleashed a pox on our house and all those close by. This unknown vine covered the roof of her pond cover, and didn’t stop there it spread to the surrounding palm trees and over the wall to my neighbor’s yard, he of course complained and I gave him permission to cut it, and cut it and cut it again. I still owed him for the Avocados’ he accused me of taking from his tree, a while back, but we also had to get our guys back to add two extra support poles because of the weight of the plant from hell.

I’ll admit it does look good and has made the 100 or so fish very happy as it sends vines down into the water to hydrate itself, which provides the fingerlings with a place to hide until they can survive on their own. It’s like we’ve created our own mini Eco system right here in our own back yard. I’m a conservative that’s gone green, true it was by accident, but green I am. And for some unknown reason I have the strongest urge to drill for oil in the middle of the fish pond.

So I’ll sit by the pond, turn the waterfall on, pop the top of an ice cold SMB, and ponder my naval, and enjoy the smiling faces on all the fish, I know they are smiling as it’s impossible to cry underwater.

• From the TV Cartoon Show of yon, Rocky & Bullwinkle. Oh hell, Google it!

Post Author: Paul Thompson (310 Posts)

Paul Thompson; has resided in the Philippines since 1993, living close to Subic Bay. I’m married to a wonderful girl named Maria (AKA Mayang).Who is from Gordon Heights in Olongapo where she grew up with her Mom & Dad and seven siblings Our two daughters are both grown up and have left the nest, the eldest married to a wonderful guy named Chris, and they have blessed us with our granddaughter Heather Colleen Our youngest daughter and her husband Cecil have blessed us with a grandson named. Jayden Logan. I’m a retired U.S. NAVY Senior Chief after 22 years of active duty. After retirement from the Navy I lived for 7 years in Puerto Rico as a Night Club owner. Then Hurricane Hugo told me to find a new line of work, I was hired by Military Sealift Command and went back to sea in Asia as a Merchant Seaman for 10 years. After 30 plus years at sea I buried my anchor on a mountain in the Philippines and am now residing in Dinalupihan (or DinBat for short), Roosevelt, Bataan where we built our home. And last but not least, anything I writes will be pure "Tongue in Cheek "If anybody is offended, I'll lose no sleep over it, but here's a quick Mea Culpa in advance!

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  1. marjorie says

    Paul it looks like the Philippine equivalent to ‘a mile a minute’ properly known as russian vine. My uncle planted that to screen his shed from the house, by the following year it had jumped over to the shed and covered it. At least you couldn’t see the shed lol.

    • Paul Thompson says

      I go out once a week and cut any tentacles moving towards my Man Cave, and we had to hire a couple of kids to free up our palm trees. I’m waiting for it to capture Coco the Flying Labrador while she’s sleeping. But as I said, the dumb fish love it.
      Oh, is your uncle sure the shed is still there?

      • marjorie says

        Paul that happened years ago. My Uncle is no longer with us, but if I remember correctly the shed had to come down because of the damage caused by the plant.

        • Paul Thompson says

          I’m sorry for your loss!
          But if the shed had to come down, then I’ll be keeping a closer eye on my man cave from now on.

    • Paul Thompson says

      The power to grow fast it seems like, I think while I’m having a beer it’s watching me!

    • Paul Thompson says

      A year and we’ve had it cut back three times already. If it gets to the house, I’m out of here! But I’ll take my beer with me.

        • Paul Thompson says

          Very seldom does a word stump me but you did with “Triffid” so as Miss Ahearn taught me in the 4th grade to look it up or Google It as they say now. To save fellow readers the time here is a terrific meaning for “Triffid”: U.K. a very large fictional plant capable of moving about and killing people, or any large plant thought to resemble a Triffid.
          BTW; Thanks for activating my brain this morning!

          • Jim Hannah says

            You’ve never seen the movie “Day of the triffids” sometimes known at “Invasion of the Triffids” Paul? It’s an oldie, for sure, 1960’s I think, and if I remember correctly, starred Howard Keel (Annie Get your gun and, eventually, Dallas).

            There I go again, full of useless information.

  2. Neal in RI says

    You gotta be shittn me, that vine grew to that over the course of one year. You better not let that thing anywhere your house.

    • Paul Thompson says

      A year and we’ve had it cut back three times already. If it gets to the house, I’m out of here! But I’ll take my beer with me.

  3. Ricardo Sumilang says

    I think that’s a real cool, crawling plant or vine you have there, Paul. With the waterfall and all, your backyard has a feel of a rainforest. If I were you, I’d make it the centerpiece of the landscaping. I’d just trim the overhang, and build the landscaping around it. It has a soothing, calming effect watching the verdant greens during and after a downpour, I’ll bet.

    • Paul Thompson says

      I’m going to the back, and sit in my Man Cave with the guy down the road, and watch it invade my neighbor’s house. People do enjoy sitting out there in the evening, my brother-in-laws like to hold all their parties there, and since they keep it so clean when their done, I’ll never say no.

  4. Gary Wigle says

    The folks in the States have a vine like that. So far nothing can kill it. If you don’t cut it back it just takes over… and over, and over. I am glad the fish like it. You have a swell place Paul. Fish pond and Man Cave. Yep, It’s more fun in the Philippines!

    Gary in Tagum City aka Kuya Ed on Facebook 😛

    • Paul Thompson says

      Scott below said it’s called Kudzo in the states and I remember reading about it, I believe it was imported from Japan or someplace like that. Here it’s called “The Plant from Hell”

  5. ScottF says

    Looks like the non-native and very invasive plant in the southern United States called Kudzu. It grows and grows, taking over everything in it’s path and killing all plant live in the process.

    I’m also sad to see the fountain is now hidden by the suckling vines hanging from above. Sorry your dreamed oasis is not as you intended.

    I’d cut it and burn it out, and pray it doesn’t return.

    • Paul Thompson says

      Oh it’s not so bad, and it kinda looks cool. If I keep those two kids employed with their jungle bolos it should be alright. We even are now trimming some of the vines in the fish pond.

    • RandyL says

      ScottF, I believe Kudzu to be imported years ago from Japan and SE China into Georgia as a miracle plant. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Soil Conservation Service promoted kudzu for erosion control. Hundreds of young men were given work planting kudzu through the Civilian Conservation Corps. Farmers were paid to plant fields of the vines in the 1940s. It is now known to be well up into the Virginia’s with no known eradication methods. Around here in MS, I know places that have been gobbled up by Kudzu, like entire trees, silo’s, old farmhouses, etc. A forest of Kudzu can actually look spooky. please do not plant this in your yard. For more visit:

      • Paul Thompson says

        I just like the way Kudzu rolls of the tounge, I wonder how it would sound after 7 or 8 SMB’s? “Help Mayang the Kudzu just ate one of the dogs!”

  6. queeniebee says

    Hi Paul, Well dollink– I think this might be kind of ivy–probably isn’t, but could be an annual version looking surprisingly like Boston Ivy?? Short of setting Mr. Peabody’s wayback machine to a year ago when it was purchased and planted, thus changing the course of history, this vine might be here to stay.
    You seem pretty content with it being there, but if need be in the future maybe the nearby nursery could identify it for you, and suggest how to get remove or contain it. Queenie

    • Paul Thompson says

      I’m not going to worry about it very much, as Long as there is a kid who wants to earn some money using his daddies Jungle Bolo, I’ll be fine. The rainy season is going strong now, and the extra water seems to set it going. Mayang wanted the plant, she owns it now.

  7. AussieLee says

    Hi Paul,
    I’ve know a few plants to behave like that over the years. Even in the dry conditions here in Australia nothing seems to hold them back. What interests me is why those mad scientists don’t figure a way to use their rootstock to graft useful plants or crops on top! You could grow bucketloads of useful stuff if they just had that rootstock.
    Have a good one, Paul!

    • Paul Thompson says

      Aussie Lee;
      That is a great idea, tomatoes are a fruit that grows on a vine, it they could be combined I’d eat them with every meal.

  8. Bob New York says

    Sounds like a theme for one of those old Drive In Movies ” The Vine that Devoured The Man Cave ” . I have vines in my yard that love to choke trees, and just about anything else they can attach themselves to. This year I have decided to attack them with weed killer. These things must have some kind of intelligence as they like to grow where I can’t get them with the lawn mower. As much as the winter months here can be such an obstical at least it quiets the foliage growth down for a few months.

    Nice pics of your place Paul, real ” Paradise Quality ” .

    • Paul Thompson says

      I’ll take a six pack and some popcorn to the man cave, just like we did at a drive in during the 60’s. If only I could get that rear seat from my 62 Chevy Bel-Air I could watch the plant take over the world. Hey, what are they doing in the next man cave over? I wish they would steam the windows first.

  9. RandyL says

    Paul, if them plants are smart enough to send tentacles down to the water, then maybe they can be genetically altered to crawl in search of SMB (like neighbors houses). Just think, a bottle of Pale Pilsen at the end of every vine. All you’d have to do is reel ’em in! 😆

    • Paul Thompson says

      A plant that steals beer? Mmmm an idea whose time has come. My luck it would only bring back Beer Na Beer, and then what would we do? From the last few parties I’ve had I found that San Mig Light is becoming more popular with the Pinoy than SMB and Red Horse., if they start becoming politically correct liberals I’m out of here.

  10. Bruce Michels says

    The last picture looks like it’s a real cool place to hide from the world for a while.
    But just be careful snakes like that vinny stuff to.

    • Paul Thompson says

      I have thought out that snake deal you mentioned, that why I’m researching id a mongoose will get along with my dogs.
      When you drop by, will you drink less beer because you’re worried about snakes? Oh shipmate, I think not!

      • Bruce Michels says

        I’ve drank beer and follied in place that would send chilles up an insane man spine. OH how brave does that liquid courage make a man. The faster it pours the braver we become.
        Snakes!! Me not care about no stupid Snakes!!

  11. Papa Duck says

    Those vines going into the pond look really neat. As long as the fish are happy, all is well in Bataan. But maybe you should keep a gallon of Roundup on hand just in case they try to attack the beer fridge. Take care and stay safe from the vines

    • Paul Thompson says

      Papa Duck;
      The waterfall was overgrown, so I waded in and started ripping some plants out, then trimmed back about 60% of the vines going down to the water. Then drank a few beers and patted myself on the back.

  12. Allan Kelly says

    Hi Paul
    Have you every seen “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”? Don’t fall sleep near that thing!

    • Paul Thompson says

      I never sleep while I’m having a beer, I might drop it! I think, but I’m not 100% sure that I can out run those vines. (LOL)

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