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Balik-tanaw sa SARS

CARABAO Beach ang tawag ng mga paslit sa malaking ukab ng lupa - likas na rainwater catchment basin. Lawa sa buhos-unos mula Mayo hanggang Disyembre.

Tapunan ng bangkay aso-pusa-manok-daga. Pistahan ng uod at langaw. Pagkaing panis doon din ihahagis. Pamansingan ng dalag, hito't tilapia. Pamantasan ng kuhol at susong amakan. Nasasagapan ng hipong tagunton. Kangkungan. Libliban ng digman. Lubluban ng kalabaw.

Lubluban din ng mga musmos. Hindi nandidiri ang kawalang-malay sa samut-saring mikrobyo at mumunting organismo - pati lisaw ng kiti-kiti't linta, daphnia, punla ng mga tutubi't palaka -- na kahalubilo sa masayang lublob-lunoy sa Carabao Beach. Nasa isang gilid iyon ng Palmera Springs, isang middle-class subdivision sa Camarin, North Caloocan City.

Mayumi ang dagundong-tibok ng buhay sa Carabao Beach. Kasaliw ng kantiyaw-iyak-tawa-hiyaw ng mga paslit. Sa tampisawang iyon, yakap na nagsasaya't sayaw ang mga mikroorganismo't makroorganismo. Magkasuyo sa pagniniig: makrobyo at mikrobyo.

Pardon the poetry. The technical term for the devil-may-care trysts at that carabao wallow-cum-dumpsite is interface. It's a swallow of that wallow.

Itaga ang kataga: interface. Communion. Dump there morbid fears about contagion of waterborne diseases or other lethal threats to health and wellness. Intra-species interface is carefree yet intimate. Call it all-out knowing of the wee other, and another, another, another... ad infinitum.

Siyempre, mayroong hamon sa ganoong pakikiugnay-niig. Makakaya ba ng iyong laman ang mga isasalin na bagong kaalaman? Ganoon kasi ang diwa - mula Sanskrit na deva o divinity, bathala - na umiiral sa bawat interface. Isasalin sa laman ang kaalaman. The shared intimacy engenders immunity. It's the sort of gaining information to touch off meaningful transformation.

We're the stuff of ashen stars, pahiwatig ng Miercoles de Ceniza. Huwag matakot, makikalabaw, mwa-ha-ha-haw! Ilublob-lusak ang katawang mula bituing burak.

Terminate and destroy ang karaniwang tugon sa bawat tangkang makiugnay ng mikrobyo. Sa umiiral na pananaw, laging utas ang panlutas - no quarters asked, no mercies given to the least of Creation.

Pinakamatingkad na halimbawa: puksain ang mikrobyo na sanhi ng dinamita sa kili-kili - kaskasin ng tone-toneladang Axe ang katawan para meron pang kantaritas side effect na umaakit sa mga palabang pekpek, mwa-ha-ha-haw!

Isa pa: ugaliing hugasan ang kepyas ng branded vaginal wash upang mapalis ang halimuyak bagoong Balayan at samyong bagoong Pangasinan. Napakasarap na sawsawan. Hindi pagsasawaan.

The pharmaceutical industry - with lots of pandering from advertising and medical diagnoses -- shaped consumer perceptions to their liking: may panlabang medikasyon at pampuksang remedyo sa bawat amuyong na mikrobyo na sanhi ng samut-saring sakit at karamdaman. We're on a perpetual war footing against disease: do unto others before they do it unto you. "Bawal magkasakit."

I believe in Life - in its wondrous dance of biochemistry and genesis. I use no deodorant -- I reek with the passions in abandon and abundance with tenderness of odorous sex.

Now, "severe" and "acute" are synonymous. The grammatical redundancy in Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is something to sneeze at. Talagang hawa-ha-ha-ha!

Kamukha yata ni Shredder -- mortal na kaaway ng Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtles - ang taumbayan mula sa Buddhist nations na tila naging instant convert sa fundamentalist Islam. Naka-chador sila - nearly every man, woman and child.

Bawat mukha ay naging kuhol na may talukap.

Wala pang lunas - basa: pang-utas -- sa virus na mitsa ng SARS. To a microbiologist like me, every virus is a piece of runaway genetic information, having the same G, A, T, C code - tagakataga pa rin.

Not friendly, not hostile, they're information that begs for ingestion into our systems, at the deep-down genetic level. Such life forms are so wee tiny, it's easy as pie for 'em SARS virus to sneak through those anti-sneeze masks that have become fashionable these days. I'm saying that those masks are useless facial props.

I could be wrong: the SARS pestilence is an ingenious conspiracy designed to gain mountains of moolah for those mask-makers. Afghanistan's Wahabi fundamentalists could be behind this low-key sales tack, pwe-he-he-he!

So, everybody - with mindsets moulded on a perpetual war footing vs. microorganisms, sweepingly tabbed by the pharmaceutical industry as hostile agents of death and disease - plays the cartoon character, pumped up with morbid thoughts of SARS.

Whew! Masuyo tayong magbalik-tanaw sa Carabao Beach - a teeming, thriving, living cocktail stew of bacteria and viruses that maybe as lethal as SARS. It's a living pool of life in its myriad forms and guises. Maalinsangan ang Abril - magdiriwang ng kaarawan sina Bilog, Podying, Puwit (my beloved kids), GMA at Erap sa buwang ito ng liyab-lupit at alab-kariktan - kaya maraming musmos na naglulublob-lunoy doon.

Sa Carabao Beach: huwag matakot, makikalabaw!


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