Aratilis: Remembering the Child in You

Do you still remember Aratilis? This fruit is known around the world as Muntingia Calabura; this is also called Jamaican Cherry.

I remember playing under the Aratilis tree during hot sunny days. I usually pick the fruits directly from the tree and place them in a plastic bag (it’s the same bag where soda is transferred to avoid bottle deposit). I tie the plastic bag in one of the tree’s branches, and then off I go to play street games. You know — marbles (jolen), moro-moro, patintero, tumbang preso, luksong tinik, luksong baka, langit-lupa, and the likes. I later get back to eat the fruits when I get hungry. The Aratilis fruit has a unique sweet taste. All the kids love it — including myself.


Have you tried playing bahay-bahayan when you were younger? It was fun, isn’t it? I used to build my house from branches of the ipil-ipil and malunggay trees. The roof was made of banana leaves — so were the walls. We ate are fruits from nearby trees. Fruits like mangoes, santol, kaimito (star apple), and duhat were regulars. If we want to eat guyabano and atis, we make sure to climb the trees unnoticed so that the neighbor won’t catch us.

There were different types of fruits to partake during mealtime. My favorite was the Aratilis shake. Haven’t you heard of it? It might be unusual to make a shake out of Aratilis, but we always do. The key is to gather as many ripe Aratilis as you can to be able to produce a glass of shake. I make the shake by extracting the juice (these are tiny seeds, by the way) from the fruit, and then place it in a blender along with powdered full-cream milk and a lot of ice cubes. It tastes like a creamy cotton candy drink.

How about you? What do you remember about Aratilis?

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  1. young says:

    aratilis in kapampangan is SARESA.. nong bata pa kumakain kame ng ganon sooo sweet:)

    ung ISIP-ISIP naka kain na ba kayo neto?:)

    • young says:

      others called this isip fruit bignay ,,, pro in our place they usually called this isip or isip-isip..

  2. hmmmm.. aratilis… is this called sara-isa in ilocano dialect? if i would still recall, my ilocano childhood friends call this one as saraisa….. I wonder if many filipino kids know the game,SHATUNG? all the filipino kids that i know nowadays are glued to playing games in computer… :)

  3. Linda says:

    This brought some chldhood memories at the time we were living in Cuyo Province, Palawan. When I was 6 yrs old, while my Lolo was taking a nap and before my older cousins came home from school, I climbed the Aratilis tree in front of our house. I guess I did it so I can fill my cravings, otherwise after my cousins gone through it there usually won’t have anything left. Up on the tree I had my fill on every aratilis within my reach. While I was enjoying the fruits, the branch supporting my weight gave way and I fell to the ground; needless to say I broke my wrist. I’ve gone back to the Philippines several times and I’ve never seen aratilis. I wonder if I’ll ever encounter this awesome fruit again after 64 years of absence.

    • Hi there Linda! My father was from Cuyo. And most of my Aratilis experience was from Cuyo…

  4. jpbarroga says:

    punta kayo dito sa Bicol to relive your memories..

  5. i think we called this fruit “cherries” and was also my favorite when i was young because of its sweet taste, and because its for free! :) we just climb up a cherries tree and pick however much we liked, or use a “sungkit” if its too high up..yah, cherries is part of my childhood =)

  6. I loved Aratilis! And we always climb my grandma’s neighbor’s tree, when we had chance. ~ 😀

    Fondest memory about it ? Our eldest playmate would hide each fruit around the garden and we are not allowed to see where she placed them. And when she says, ‘go find them’ we hurry around and search with delight 😀

  7. inabee22 says:

    I still remember and never forget planting my own Aratilis at my tatay Roming’s (my favorite grandpa) yard. I always plant it close to the fence where I can climb easily, I pick the red ones coz they are sweet and put them in the “tabo” with water. And when the tree becomes bigger and bigger, he ask permission to me that he needs to cut it down because it makes a lot of mess on the ground, but still, letting me plant a new one. I miss lot of things in my hometown.

  8. I first remember seeing this on the island of Guam when I was 6. There were a lot of them by the post office. I would always walk my dog over there. I also remember seeing them when we returned to the Philippines. I haven’t seen any in Hawaii just yet, but maybe it’s because I haven’t searched. I had forgotten about them, actually, if it weren’t for this post! Thank you!

  9. Philippines says:

    I love the sweet taste at higit sa lahat ang amoy ng hinog na aratilis. Funny how but when I tried searching for this little fruit I found a result so interesting as this post of yours. Very nice. – Ana

  10. I was crazy about this when I was a kid… When I grew up, the sweetness became suddenly overpowering, making me wonder why on earth I loved it as a child. We had a tree in our garage then, until Ondoy came and snapped the tree in half. :(

    • Emalyn says:

      I know, back in PI, when I was a kid, a sneak out in our house jaz to climb the Aratilis tree of our neighbor and the only reason why I like washing our clothes coz of the Aratilis tree nearby where the puso is.