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Showing posts from 2004

Dagdag na halaga

MANGKOKOLUM

Nakasumpong minsan ng palos o sea eel sa Farmer’s Market, Cubao. Wala nang baratan. Kagyat na binayaran. Buhat sa puwesto ng mga isda, lipad agad sa mga tindahan ng gulay. Naghagilap ng mga sangkap sa putaheng tila kidlat na gumuguhit sa utak – palos na nakagumon sa salsang tausi, sangke, luya at wansoy. Sarrrap!

Naulit ang ganoong lintik-sa-bilis na paghahagilap ng mga pansangkap. Doon sa pamilihang bayan ng Maddela, Quirino. Nakasumpong ng isdang ludong. Tila ba nakatagpo ng mutyang nililiyag, inihanap agad ng angkop na gayak. Upang maitanghal at malantakan sa hapag.

Samut-saring hilaw na halimuyak ang likaw na naglisaw sa palengke. Tambad ang talaksang hilaw na sangkap. Malimit na may sansang ng putik at alikabok. Pero naroon ang mga paanyaya para lumikha ng dagdag na halaga. Doon masasapol ang katuturan ng tinatawag na salimbayan ng mga unawa – ang buhawi ng buhay sa marketplace of ideas.

Nasuob man sa lansa at sansang ang mga lumulusong sa palengke, talagang mas sal…

Adding green to the mud pie in your eye

BACOLOD -- Most beachfront property owners here opt for an uncluttered view of their sunset, a neat unbroken sweep of the horizon facing the Guimaras Strait smack on the western end of Negros island.

Shore settlement dwellers take a similar view that has tamped down any attempt to dab a bit of green in the coastal marshes and mud flats dotting the shoreline. However, enterprising marginal fisherfolks have studded the shallow portions with fish corrals called baklad while others are content to grub for various species of clams, oysters, and crabs among the shoals.

Negros-based project coordinator David G. Castor for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) endemic tree species conservation scheme noted that "mangrove forests once teemed Negros island's coastal marshes and mud flats in the 19th century. We find those mangrove-grown coastal parts defined in maps of the 1800s. The remaining bakawan species are now confined to estuaries and mud banks of rivers flowing into…

Kama

At P200, the odd farm implement called kama that I chanced upon in a roadside cutlery shop in La Trinidad, Benguet proved worthier than its price tag .

The kama has a curving spine that looks like an arc snipped off a wide circle. Its business spread of a blade is a straight edge fitted at a 45-degree angle to the lightweight handle -- knotty grained wood of a color similar to pine -- that bore lathe marks. With the tool's weight evenly distributed between handle and blade, the heft was perfect. Once wielded, the tool feels like an organic part of one's arm.

This farm tool that resembles a carpenter's scale had its roots in Okinawa, an island off the Japanese mainland that was once a haven of sea brigands, fishermen and farmers. A kama is used for reaping grain, mowing grass or for such precision splitting of bamboo culms, cane or wicker for basketry. Honed to razor sharpness, the tool can also neatly lop off a man's neck or limb in a flick.

Fitted to a long handle,…

Rice and fish until you rest in peace

SINIMULAN ng mga prayleng Dominikano ang latag ng patubig sa kanilang mga palayan sa Laguna pagpihit ng ika-18 siglo. Sa yugtong ito ng kasaysayan, hindi umaabot sa 4,000 ang bilang ng mga EspaƱol sa bansa; mahigit 4,000,000 ang populasyong indios cobardes.

Sa panahong iyon, katulong ang mga indio sa paghakot sa mga Sangley o sinaunang Chinoy sa Intramuros para matamnan ng dalawang ulit santaon ang mga palayang Dominikano sa Laguna at ilang bahagi ng Bulakan. Kayod-kalabaw ang mga hinakot sa pagbubukid. Walang bayad.

Maraming pumalag na sinaunang Chinoy. Binanatan ng Mauser 5.56. Humalo sa patubig ang dugong Sangley. Naging pataba sa bukirin ang mga bangkay. Sagana ang bawat ani ng palay.

Ipihit ang panahon. Bago humapay sa pagpasok ng ika-21 siglo, nasa Top 400 Corporations of the Philippines ang National Food Authority (NFA), ang bisig ng pamahalaan sa pamimili, pag-iimbak at pamamahagi ng pangunahing aning butil. Limpak na milyong piso ang kita taun-taon. Kahit sa bawat 10 sako…

Bayabas, asin, at pinawa

Bago napalawak sa higit 20 ektarya ang kanilang lupain, ang mag-asawang kaanak ng aking abuela ay nakagawian na mamuhay nang payak. Dugo ng katutubong Khmer mula bulubundukin ng Cambodia ang taglay ng kanilang mga ninuno. Likas na sagitsit siguro ng dugo ang nagtutulak sa kanila sa pagiging masinop sa lupa, sa pamumuhay na salat sa luho -- pero todo-sagad sa sikap.

Uhugin pa ‘ko nang madalas maisama ng abuela sa tahanan ng mag-asawa. Pawid at kawayan lang ang bahay. Ligid sa mga punong bayabas at mangga ang bakuran. Dalawang beses santaon kung magbaba ng mangga, pero lagi naming nadadatnan na hitik sa bunga ang mga bayabas.

Matindi ang kargadang Vitamin C ng bayabas. Dalawang piraso lang, sapat na sa kailangan ng katawan sa isang araw. Duda ‘kong nagpupurga yata sa bayabas ang mag-asawang iyon. Tuwing mahahatak kaming kumain do’n, tiyak ko ang nakahain sa hapag: pinawa o tersera klaseng kanin na halos kulay pula’t may halo na konting darak (na tigmak pala sa lecithin, Vitamin E at…

CPA-- camote pala ako

Naglalaro sa P10-12 sangkilo ang presyo ng kamote ngayon. Magaang na sa bulsa, mahilab pa sa sikmura. Masustansiya kasi.

Minsang tanim-kamote ang inasikaso natin. Nangamote sa kapirasong bahagi ng Kilometro 30 ng lansangang Cabrera, sa lunsod ng Antipolo.Sa ika-30 linya ang hangganan ng maisusulat sa legal size paper. Trenta rin ang pananda ng peryodista. Pangwakas sa niratsa o sinalsal na ulat.

Matindi ang kabuluhan ng kamote o Ipomoea batatas. Kaanak ito ng kangkong at aurora o morning glory. Pangunahing sangkap ito sa paglikha ng manika (poppet) sa pangkukulam. Mas masarap na pang-ulam - lalo na't may katambal na halobaybay, bagoong Balayan o Pangasinan, pinigaan ng dayap at siling labuyo.

Huwag nang pagtalunan: natukoy na ng mga food scientists na mas mayaman sa sustansiya ang talbos-kamote kaysa repolyo, broccoli't mga kamag-anak nilang gulay. Kaya nga nakagiliwan naming comfort food ang talbos-kamote-- 'yung bagong pitas sa sariling bakuran. Para may hibo ng tamis an…

Bakit 'Mangkokolum'?

Sa usapan namin sa telepono ni Edgardo M. Reyes -- umakda ng mga nobelang tulad ng Laro sa Baga, Bangkang Papel sa Dagat ng Apoy at Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag-- ginamit ng may pitak na ito ang katagang "mangkokolum."

Hinalaw naman ang katagang "mangkokolum" mula sa naging kantiyaw sa isang peryodistang AC-DC (attack-collect, defend-collect)-- sa halip na calumnist tinawag na kulam-nista.

Editor-in-chief noong 1998 si Reyes ng isang Tagalog broadsheet-- Diyaryo Uno. Minsang naging kapitbahay namin siya sa Lagro, Quezon City. Matagal ding naging kaklase sa boteny matapos magsara ng pahina ng dating Abante. Naging katalakayan sa ilang palihan sa malikhaing pagsulat nitong dekada 1980 sa UP Diliman.

Untag ko: "Kukunin mo ba 'kong mangkokolum?"

Aniya: "Ano bang mangkokolum? Mangkukulam!"

Nilinaw sa kanyang iba ang mangkokolum sa mangkukulam. May mabubungkal na halimbawa. Iba ang manunulat sa manunulot. Iba ang manananggal sa manananggol. Maging pa…

Shrines in a barren landscape

Seven churches sit like yawning crocodiles, spread about the sprawl of Sierra Madre foothills where weekends were spent with my three imps, sweating out and sun-baking our backs while planting trees.

Each church, every belief and persuasion currently infecting the Pinoy landscape was plied out with a preacher or priest to stoke the fires of people’s faith in that hinterland community. We saw instead many a summer brush fire cackling like a coop of chickens or crackling like splintered skeletons, devouring the landscape from dusk to dawn. Thus went two or three years reforestation work, each struggling patch of young trees we tended turned up as ashes.

People need trees. Trees to turn out food and churn out oxygen to break down nutrients in food, the same air – bonded to blood -- shuttle these nutrients throughout the body to keep it fully nourished and alive; same air swishing like a tender caress on human brain cells to nudge some sparks of sanity and intuition. Beautiful biochemis…

Hardin at basura

ni Abraham Arjuna G. de los Reyes







May hardin kami sa loob ng bakuran. Meron din sa labas sa bakanteng lote na tapat ng tindahan na konti lang ang layo. Yung hardin namin sa loob ay malago at kumpulan ang mga halaman. Wala na kaming matataniman sa loob. Laging basa ang mga halaman dahil lagi sa amin umuulan. Kapag walang ulan, dinidilig. Sa kinatatayuan ng mga halaman ay mga pasong basag. Mabato ang daanan sa hardin. May mga kalat na shell ng oysters. Dito gumagala ang mga alaga naming pagong, manok, aso, palaka saka mga gagamba.







Sa hardin namin sa labas na tapat ng isang tindahan ay malupa. Tabi ng hugis bundok na tambakan ng basura na mabaho at malansa ang amoy. Mataas ang lupa kaya ginawa namin na lang na parang terraces na tawag sa Tagalog ay “payaw”.







Ang pagpapayaw ay madaling gawin. Kumukuha kami ng asarol o “mattock” sa English. Ito ay isang metal na walang matulis na talim sa dulo at ito ay nakasuksok sa dulo ng hawakan. Ginagamit ito sa pagtatanggal ng mga malalaking bato a…

Sa anino ng Bethlehem

PINAKAMURA sa Pasay ang palipas ng dosenang oras sa silid ng mumurahing motel - P169 lang. Katakam-takam sana.

Kaya lang, muli't muling mauulit ang Posadas - ang pakla't panglaw sa panunuluyan ng kagampang Maria't Jose. Walang motel sa Pasay na tatanggap sa kanila para manatili ng 12 oras. Sa tatlong oras nakametro bawat silid ngayon. Mahihiwatigan: sa palipas-libog lang laan ang mga silid-motel.

Masusubukan nilang tumuloy sa Sogo o Wise Hotel sa Cubao, Quezon City. Ganoon pa rin ang umiiral na kalakaran. Mabubungaran ang naghihintay na mga kawan ng parehang magpapalipas-libog. Matiyagang naka-antabay sa mababakanteng silid.

Karaniwang naipagpag ang utog sa dalawang oras. Maihahanda agad ang silid sa bunong-kama ng panibagong pareha. Walang patid ang labas-masok na daloy ng mga parokyanong pares-pares kapag kumagat ang dilim.

Ganoon pa rin ang kalakaran sa pansamantalang pahingahan sa libis ng Pasig, sa mga utong ng Sta. Cruz o Binondo, kahit sa tumbong ng Grace Park. Nak…

Aanhin pa ang kabayo kung patay na ang damuho

Aanhin pa ang kabayo
kung patay na ang damuho?

PULOT, darak, tubig saka grassolina - ganoon ang kailangan para maipasada ang one-horsepower kalesa.

Magbawas man ang damuho sa kalsada, mag-uunahan ang mga mahilig maghalaman sa deposito de caballo. Organikong abono na mahusay sa halaman ang tuyong dumi ng kabayo.

Hindi rin parusa sa bulsa ang mga sangkap para manatiling in good running condition ang kabayo. Susulak sa inggit ang mga hinayupak na oil multinationals: grassoline is crude as crude gets and is immune from such phenomena as OPEC production cuts, price backwardation or contango, manipulated landed costs and stiff excise taxes, mwa-ha-ha-haw!

Grassoline is nearly pure cellulose, a little lignin laced with lots of chlorophyll, vitamins A, B-complex and C, minerals and phytochemicals - nagtusak sa tabi-tabi ng mga ilog, parang, sapa at pilapil. Ibig lang sabihin: totally compliant sa Clean Air Act ang grassoline fuel for the one-horsepower kalesa. Now, that's state-of-the…

Living with a barren wall

The greater portion of walls in my current abode are bare. I like 'em walls to be that way -- chewed clean like bone, empty of nuances yet pregnant with possibilities.

I construe those walls as a reflecting mirror, as an "expression of the inmost self." Anyhow, one imparts generous portions of himself in his milieu, infects the very space he occupies with his sensibilities. I could do some carpentry, fix in a shelf, fill it with my books-- and the wall speaks volumes about me. Woodcraft and reading matter and all the bric-a-brac dumped there would proclaim of the human presence that redefined those confining walls with a few strokes, some choices of materials imbued there.

One could tack a nude centerfold (there's a Hokusai woodblock print of a woman vendor with bared breasts that I recently downloaded from the Internet) or any present-day icon (I'd like U2's Bono and his quote about singing, "All it takes is three! chords and the truth."), a post…

Seeing through a fight scene

Three minutes went into the awkward swap of fist blows between two FX van barkers at Cogeo village’s gate 2, a traffic-chokepoint in newly minted Antipolo City.

Neither appeared seriously hurt. Not a blood droplet drawn. No gash, visible bruise or snapped bone. Both were gushing with curses and taunts. They were about to have another go at it when a burly cop appeared, collared them both, dragged ‘em across the street intersection -- the fray had traffic choked in knots -- to a police outpost. Those blokes may be booked for public scandal, peace and order violation (say, POV was catch-all crime of political detainees in the Marcos years), traffic obstruction. Probably, even littering.

Puwit, my youngest son witnessed the scuffle. It broke out in front of the Cubao-bound FX van that we had hailed and were about to board. The barkers, a pair of scrawny-looking chaps in their late 20’s or early 30’s had fought over P10 -- pittance sum that a driver pays a barker to call for passengers.…

A dream of monsters

My kid started off the mat-covered ground we were sleeping on. It was two in the morning. It felt like the ground air was freezing. The kid peeled the blanket he had wrapped himself with, then, proceeded stoking remnants of last night’s bonfire with an armful of cogon sheaves. Wispy tendrils rose off the ashes; embers bloomed; fiery petals resembling a chrysanthemum’s swayed and swung at the chill.

Ganito pala dito, Papa. Lumalamig na todo,” he muttered, rubbing his hands together.

Oo. Parang ginaw sa Benguet ‘pag madaling araw. Kaya pala meron din ditong rono.”

“Rono?”

Talahib-Cordillera. Narito rin sa Sierra Madre. Ginagamit sa La Trinidad na pantulos sa kamatis, sa sitsaro. Pati sa chrysanthemum.”

“Ibig sabihin: puwede dito tumubo ang chrysanthemum?” the kid yawned.

“May taniman nga ng Benguet pine si Chito Bertol sa kabilang bundok. Hindi kasi maselan ang pine tree. Kumakasa sa cogon. Tutubo kahit baog na’ng lupa. Pero bago tayo makapagpatubo ng chrysanthemum dito, dapat na …

Undead men working

TAXPAYERS can assert that capital punishment is taxes. As added assault and insult to his bled-dry pockets, the taxpayer has to bear the brunt of paying for every death convict’s penal board and lodging while our non-honorable senators are making up their minds whether heinous crimes have palpable existence or are mere figments of the imagination.

It is likely that the paltry P15 daily food expenditure (based on 1985 prices) per inmate had jumped to a more realistic P150 level. With over a thousand convicts on death row – including the much-awaited possibility of an ex-President getting dumped there for multiple counts of plunder -- that means taxpayers bleed over P150,000 each day -- or some P55 million per year to keep ‘em dead men walking with full stomachs.

As show of earnest sincerity, every anti-death penalty proponent can put his money where his mouth is. Taxpayers would readily appreciate the bleeding heart arguments for sparing death convicts if anti-death penalty group…

Sa puyo ng iglap na alimpuyo

TATLO nang balita ng kamatayan sa ilog at kauring daluyan ng tubig ang nasadsaran ng tingin nitong nagdaang dalawang buwan. Tiyak na may mga kasunod pang balita sa mga susunod na buwan. Maisasalpak sa Journal Online.

Sa tibagan sa ilog ng Biak na Bato, San Miguel de Mayumo sa Bulakan—siyam ang nalunod na mga paslit. Hindi matiyak ang dahilan kung paano sabayang nalunod ang ganoon kadami. Mapapapalatak.

Ganoon ding bilang ang nalunod sa isa pang balita—mga Boy Scouts nasawi sa isang bayang pampangin sa Pangasinan.

Sa pinakahuling ulat: natagpuan ang naaagnas nang bangkay ng isang Prana Escalante sa isang ilog sa Bundok Halcon ng Mindoro. Talaksan ang naiwang galos sa hubad na katawan. Naligo marahil. Sinakmal ng iglap na ragasa ng baha. Tiyak na humampas sa mga matalim na batuhan.

Sa ganoon ding paraan nasawi ang anak ng kaibigang pintor sa paanan ng Bundok Apo sa Davao—tila layak na itinalyang ang katawan sa kisap-matang halihaw ng iglap na baha sa binabaybay na ilog. Lasog ang katawa…

Walk the talk on idiot-cation, oops, I mean kids' education

It takes only a pound per square inch -- one PSI -- of force to snap the rib cage, poke a way into a man's heart.

It’s so disheartening to see that your average grade school child these days has to tote a bag bursting to its seams with books and things that can weigh over 13 pounds. That’s probably more than a tenth of the average school kid's body mass. I could be wrong. Any academic can rave and rant to render this whit of probability into something moot and, well, academic: the school bag-generated force can add up to two or three PSI which clamps down on the shoulder blade and collar bone.

That causes childish discomforts -- bruises, cramped muscles, sprains, even bone dislocations. Academics can always construe this as dutiful obedience to an admonition of Christ’s: “Whatever ye do to these children, ye do it unto me.” So, off to Golgotha these kids go on schooldays cheerfully lugging their crosses, I mean, burdens. Well-meaning parents can ease their kids’ penitensi…

Post-prandial reflections from a plate of snipes

THE PLATE held five or six snipes, halved and oozing with a melange of grease and burnt soya-colored gravy.

In Tagalog-speaking areas, we call these birds as kanduro. Enterprising farm-based traders (mostly from Bulacan and Pampanga) net ‘em by sackfuls, peddle a dozen-per-string of snipes in plush neighborhoods in the metropolis. Steep price to pay for a lean gaggle of birds that takes hours to dress, marinate, and cook.

It was a late breakfast treat from the Upsilonian brod and Shell training farm manager. He wanted my taste buds to bring home a fond memory of a local Bicol delicacy, concocted by a carinderia off the Legazpi airport.

So I dug in, divining the marinade’s ingredients with the first few morsels chewed -- dark soy sauce, kalamansi, sugar, Seven-Up or Sprite, and garlic. No hint of gaminess with the flavor a quaint closer to a combo of quails and bacon’s than free-range chicken’s.

The Upsilonian insisted that I finish the job. Instead, I let out a bellyful of complain…

Chewing it up, spitting it out in Mount Makiling

On the third day of the fast, while hewing a leg-sized log on a rock shelf above the stream where my three children and I have encamped for the Holy Week, a battalion of lulumbo wasps -- each no smaller than a pinkie finger -- came out of the rotted bole, swarmed as massing thunderhead, then buzz-bombed like a storm at surprised me with venom, concentrating their attacks upon my head.

Nowhere to turn to except a three-meter drop on the stream bed strewn with pebbles and boulders, I hacked at a nearby bush, wielded it and swatted and swiped and flung and swung while beating a not-so-hasty retreat -- a three-meter drop can be ruinous to one’s health -- with a headful of pain. I couldn’t scream off the wash of pain.

So those wasps either picked or pickled my brains with venom and made a swell-headed oaf out of me for unwittingly doing a demolition job on their abode -- but how was I to know? I am supposed to rid inner impurities, keep a clear head during a misogi harai -- a spiritual c…