Thursday, April 21, 2005

Wresting power

HEARING a brush of movement that does not belong to the midnight howl of Sierra Madre wilderness, we flowed pronto into an ambush position before a pass leading to the ridge where we camped for the night. Whoever, whatever sneaks through the pass gets shredded in an interlocking fire zone— my kid works the flank side, I tackle the frontal assault. All set for the frying pan and the fire.

We scratched our heads in chagrin by dawn’s early light—a stray calf, its leash caught on a tangle of cogon made the brushing-on-grass noise that kept us on a vigil through the small hours, ears plied like a bat’s sonar, senses pumped full of adrenaline anticipation for engagement. We caught up with sleeping, barely did any tree planting after such dour discovery.

Setting up an interlocked line of fire for a tikbalang? Why, most folks haven’t seen any – both interlocking fire and such creature of mist and myth. He’s skeptical if such things exist. Of course, it takes sangfroid tactical savvy to muster such an ambush position. And it takes sheer sense of wonder plus a pried open third eye or hyped up pineal gland to lift the veil of the commonplace, the effete and the inane for a look-see into another reality.

Nobody bothers going and looking into Plato’s cave these days, yeah. He’s the dude who quoted his mentor Socrates as saying, “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.”

Now consider this plot: lanky Peter Parker (alter ego of the Stan Lee comic book character “Spiderman”) got himself bitten by a genetically modified spider—and whacked out, at first, Parker’s body immune system. Such spider’s toxin worked up nanotechnology, even altered the biochemistry of Parker’s entire body-mind. By some quirk of comic book logic which hasn’t heard of nanotechnology yet, Parker didn’t morph into an arachnid. He retained human form and morphology. For all comic book intents and film purposes, the wee beast-- whose webbing is 100 times stronger and far more malleable and ductile than steel – now lurks beneath Parker’s human form. He became more humane reprising an uncle’s counsel—“with great power comes great responsibility.” As for the spider’s inhered voracious appetite for flies, crickets, grasshoppers and similar critters, that’s kept in check by gargantuan take at the cinema tills, mwa-ha-ha-haw!

See: arachnid toxin intoxicates. That’s a way of saying power can turn on the idiot box and allow viewers to lap up and gorge on the unreeling idiocy. In more familiar terms: power corrupts. And a surge of absolute power can ruin household appliances, not to mention touch off spontaneous combustion in faulty electrical wiring or ease the squalor of a squatter’s settlement into cinders.

Or something like 50 kilowatts of power can be used to broadcast and pump up one’s nuisance value—mostly blabber about the minutiae of unexamined lives of those in show business, or inflict the mindset and guesswork opinions of an ignoramus upon unsuspecting hordes of listeners…

Yeah, political power comes from the barrel of a gun for those of Leftist intent and economic power rolls off an oil barrel for traders in petroleum products.

Through a physically challenging regimen in taekwondo, my 20-year old kid Kukudyu has cultivated the seat of his body-mind’s earth essence. His earth powers dwell in the so-called dan tien, the hara-ki or the physique’s center of gravity that serves as axis-fulcrum of body movements. But he barely has an inkling of his nurtured hideous powers.

Now, a tikbalang – half human, half equine-- is sprung off the essence of earth, his dan tien too polished and nurtured, he can actually leap to the tops of trees in a single bound. He connects with dudes the likes of Kukudyu who has nurtured his seat of earthiness. And he wants a go with my kid to whom he would bequeath more of such hideous powers (the much-vaunted agimat including a prodigious stamina for sex). They’ll go through the motions of a power grab called agaw-agimat: the kid sneaks up the tree, hurls himself on the back of the tikbalang for the horror ride of his life, then, the kid uproots a single hair of gold on the chimera’s mane—that’s it. There’s transfer of technology: the kid becomes a conduit for the tikbalang’s powers.

And, the poor chimera becomes my kid’s ward… I wouldn’t allow that. So the tikbalang sulked. A grand sulk.

Like that paragon from Calamba, Laguna—someone named Jose Protacio Rizal – I subscribe to the idea that power need not be wrested from otherworldly and mundane dimensions. Grabbed power corrupts the grabber. Inhered power, on the other hand, purifies.

Mohandas K. Gandhi: “Live as if you’re going to die tomorrow! Learn as if you’re going to live forever!”

We make those forays into the dark recesses of Mt. Makiling for learning sessions. Something called mouna (a regimen which translates as “mountain”) to soak up, immerse and absorb the entire mountain and all its motley and manifold creation.

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