A covey of children in their pre-teens have been accepted into my clutch of FB friends… that gives them the freedom to scrawl their thoughts on a virtual wall, an agony column of sorts that allows every befriended soul—lost, found, searching-- to connect.
And what would children write about? Anything and everything they can think of. So far, only one has left a few words what she felt about what I shared—a getting-to-know-you walk on swidden trails where scraggly, struggling plant remnants of a lost wilderness still found unwieldy sanctuary.
The plants will be trampled, trodden, hacked off, uprooted, burnt… ignored… every which way we can efface fragments of a forbidding topography in a rush to more comforting, safer, perhaps ground made more familiar and suitable to haunt… the unknown will always be daunting and fearsome.
Always, the weak-hearted and frail-willed individual demands of the unknown to conform to his weakness and frailty…
Hindi ko sila naipakilala sa punong ligas na walang 500 metro ang layo sa kanilang campsite… Semecarpus cuneiformis, Xiao guo rou tuo guo… tila munting kasoy na lila o balubad na pula ang bunga… pero mag-iiwan ng mahapding butlig sa balat kapag nadampi sa mga dahon at bulaklak nito… pero panlaban pala sa arthritis at Alzheimer’s disease ang katas.
Naipakilala sila sa isang puno—ni hindi ko alam ang pangalan—na palatandaan na may tubig na mahuhukay sa kinatitindigan nito.
Naipakilala sila sa may 17 halaman na mapagkukunan ng pagkain na walang 500 metro ang layo sa kanilang tinuluyang lunan.
Naibahagi sa kanila ang payak na paraan upang maging ligtas inumin ang tubig.
Napakaraming kaalaman ang hindi na maibabahagi sa kanila… kulang sa panahon, kulang o naglaho na rin ang mga puno at halaman na nagtataglay ng iba pang kaalaman…
Ni bakas ng ahas o kahit bulate ay wala nang matatagpuan sa lawak na latag ng kaingin… ah, may nasulyapan pang kilyawan—matingkad na dilaw at marikit na itim ang nakabihis na balahibo sa bagwis at katawan.
So I had to tell them the deadliest animal on the planet that they’ll ever face is a roast suckling pig… and the most dangerous, wiliest enemy of an animal they’ll ever know is the face they’ll see before a mirror.
One friend wrote on my wall: “A long, long time ago, when I was young and impressionable, I learned the value and taste of barks, mushrooms, grass, leaves, flowers, ant eggs, worms, beetles; learned to use knives and stones; made fire, made love under trees and in the rain with narra leaves in my hair. You'd be a good teacher!”
But we have lost so much… that wilderness, the halcyon stretches and patches of Eden can never be quilted back into place, where our young may learn.