Showing posts with label matalom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label matalom. Show all posts

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Carabao Man

Merde! An excrement, says my dictionary! A carabao dung, in slow, painful-to-watch installation, is falling into the murky stream irrigating the rice fields of Malipayon -- my dusty hometown being taken ill by a hundred sleeping pills -- and descending into a steep, yet-unnamed, two-tiered waterfall.

I want to stop my exhausted beast, and not excuse her, from the disgusting deed, but it's all too late -- her last drop has just wrapped fast her nature-call up. If she had to deposit her stinky processed food, I would have wanted her to feed it to any green, to contribute to the wealth of grey clay. I am flaming, for I can't take any shit be submerged in any water or pool, but I can allow piss and sweat any day. I feel, by doing this, is me giving people taking a weekend bath under the noisy waterfall a mile from here a favor. Poo-poo is a no-no, sorry -- the bias I got when my feet were buried to cold, more nuanced slime many times before.

I sit every midday, immediately after a paltry meal of rice and dried fish, on my favorite bench, so alive, rough, and fat -- the overhanging branch of old acacia, as if bridging two banks, sowed by the first-known farmer in town, says the tale of yore. My back rests on the trunk, legs pointing to the running water below, hands gripping twigs.

On the bank facing the foot of the mysterious, secret-whispers-laden mountain, the tree bore witness to the time when the Spaniards first raided the town and trampled on the naive, bolo-and-sundang-wielding locals. It must have been surely a most nightmarish waking-up at 6 in the morning, when the shrill human cries drowned out the early rooster calls. The day was neither like any other day, nor a day that would fulfill its promise of a brand new day.


Image: Matalom, Leyte, Philippines

Monday, October 5, 2015

These Fields of Gold

When I was young, I, with my sister and childhood friends, would pluck out some kuhol (snails) pestering the greening rice fields and earn some dough out of it. We were paid one peso per kabo (container) of kuhol. Yes, we were snailmongers. Those kuhol, especially their eggs, were such a headache, as they would proliferate in the fields like wildfire. Mom would always ask us to help every time kuhol were already eating up and laying pink eggs on rice stalks.

Dipping our feet into mud was, to us, just a game, not even close to a sore chore. I had always been with an army of friends -- the same children who after school would stay out on the street -- play all Pinoy games imaginable, and only tire out early when we had to do homework. Much more on weekends did we have to get extremely physical. Sweaty, soiled, burned, hurt. That was a part of our being hyperactive kids. We never really ran out of activity. No wonder I never had any obese friend back then.

If lucky enough, we could then catch halwan (mudfish) in rice fields. They are the kind of fish that hibernate during summer, burrow into mud, and stay there until the land gets soggy. They have an amazing ability to survive out of water for months.

I can recall the plowing and harrowing of rice fields with the use of carabao or tractor. Also, I can remember the incubation of rice grains inside a sack soaked in water. Placed inside an empty water reservoir, our kitchen would reek of urine or rotten fruit or the like because of it. After 24 hours or even longer, when the seeds had finally germinated, farmers would strew them all over a seedbed.

When the fields had finally turned gold, farmers would cut the stalks using a sanggot (sickle), place them on a mat where they would do the manual threshing with their bare feet. The grains would then be sundried for days, which would be spread on a trapal (tarpaulin) with a wooden rake.

I have very fond memories of rice fields.

Narrative: Matalom, Leyte, Philippines
Images: Carcar City, Cebu, Philippines

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Nostalgia: Matalom, Leyte

It would have been the classic tragedy of all tragedies, had I stayed and been staked firmly into your ground, and killed a dream, forever. I would have been more quiet and still than the already quiet town that it was. I would not have seen, heard, and known what I should have and what I should have not. The parting, truly, just made all the difference. 

Had I not bitterly bidden you farewell, the towers I would have only known then were the guava-rich rolling hills, home to fighting spiders of all colors, cocooning inside the deadest and driest of all leaves; the melancholic, yet itchy bamboos, swaying and rustling against the breaths of distant mountains; the three-meter pole to which I would hold my chin up high, with squinted, sleepy eyes, during endless 8 a.m. flag ceremonies, singing the national anthem and reciting the pledge of allegiance; the lofty coconut trees, the trees of life, rising from our backyard with harvest-ready tomatoes and bell peppers rooted to garden beds gorging on carabao dung, and living on Canigao island, white and lonely and the purest of all virgins imaginable, shy and meek; the wooden power posts, greened by algae, pestered by accidental mushrooms, and nested by jet-black crows in holed heads; the two-storey, corrupt municipal hall dressed in cracked paint, leaving texts unintelligible, useless; and the centuries-old Saint Joseph church that stood high through the sweat and blood and tears of those who labored hard under the tropical sun disguised as Spanish crown. 

But the things I knew, I have grown up and smiled and laughed with them sealed in between my throbbing temples since the time of our bitter parting, welcoming wherever the world takes me. I have always reminisced our memories, good and bad, immortalized in shameless, old-school diaries kept inside shoe boxes, shunted from dust. Those were sweet and tangy-smelling every time I recall my youth and playground at every possible square soil. I crave for it like the juiciest fruit known to man, and I sincerely apologize to you at the same time. There is a must in all things. And I must do what I had to, explaining and hoping you would understand. 

I called out your name one morning of my last young summer, but you didn't hear me. I saw you with a curious companion riding habal-habal (motorcycle-for-hire), as if on a chase -- swift, unmoved, indifferent. And clouds of dust rose above the choked up slender greens lining the roadsides, and my poor, sore, allergic nose, growing red and terribly sneezing. 

Still, if you asked me the same question on that fateful day today, I would answer the same and sail the same rough seas convoluted with uncertainties and heartbreaks -- even if it meant leaving you in the cold, again, you feeling betrayed, and me coming back after six full years. 

I bade you farewell, my Matalom, the second time, in the hope that you would be happy for me and wishing me well on this journey, even farther and longer and sleepless and uncertain and brokenhearted.

Caridad Norte
Hitoog Cave
Mahayahay Falls
Canigao Island