Santol is currently in season. It's quite ubiquitous in Tagbilaran with pushcart and sidewalk vendors hawking it usually from early afternoon until evening. This is one fruit with just the thought or sight of it can make one’s mouth water.
For those who are yet to eat one, santol, when still unripe, can be sour in taste, but with some salt, it becomes edible, and that's how some locals prefer it. When ripe, its flesh and seeds transform into a delectable combination of sweet and sour.
Although tempting, it is highly suggested not to swallow the santol seed. If you’re young and in good health, the seed may pass through without harm; however, if you’re older and have some problems with your intestines, then the seed could easily get stuck, leading to an obstruction. The sharp edges of the seed may even perforate your bowels, leading to infection and death.
According to a PhilStar article by Willie T. Ong, MD, it is estimated that 200 cases of surgical emergencies from swallowed santol seeds are seen yearly at local hospitals. Dr. Reynaldo O. Joson, chair of the Department of Surgery at Ospital ng Maynila, has been educating the public on the dangers of this seemingly harmless fruit. Dr. Joson says that if the patient dillydallies on consulting a doctor, then death can occur in 30-50 percent of cases. At the Ospital ng Maynila alone, several cases were operated on recently. This makes the delicious santol fruit a public health problem.
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