AFTER suggesting in a focused discussion that local crop raisers curb overproduction, take after the OPEC tack of calibrated yields to provide stability to farm-gate prices for their produce, I was singled out for two-bit tactical interrogation… so it turned out to be an ugly military rigmarole for usual rebel suspects.
The gaggle of “farmers” of Belance, Dupax del Norte in the Nueva Vizcaya hinterlands I had talked to were local militia… who won’t ever have inkling on the finer points of agricultural practice and out-and-out capitalist marketing ploy… they just wanted to make me sing under mental duress, “I’m a Red rabble-rouser out to infect you locals with Leftist ideas.”
If it quacks like a capitalist duck but doesn’t waddle like one… there must be something wrong.
So we were set up prior to a round up— say, two comely education coeds of the Nueva Vizcaya State University in Bambang; a faculty of Sunhaven Academy in Bulacan; a manager for the Savory chain of restaurants out to procure raw stock for his firm; one technical assistant for erstwhile lawmaker Leticia Ramos-Shahani; an assortment of naïve do-gooders out to share time, resources, plus know-how.
They plied me with drink… 4 x 4, local term for cuatro cantos… to which I raised a perpetual toast, “In vino veritas” that ought to have wafted on their faces like a polite insult… but that won’t occur to a bunch of cunctators.
I wouldn’t fault them for mistaking me for a grizzled guerrilla… my manner of walking implied a well-drilled martial gait wont to any terrain, upright wiry body posture too soldierly or smoothly sexy coiled like steel springs about to pounce… eh dati akong sundalo.
One had posted himself an elbow strike off my left rear side, fidgety four arrayed themselves at the table to my left… uneasy interrogating officer faced me nearly lurched on a chair, in evasive maneuvers with his eyes avoiding direct visual contact and wouldn’t touch the grog, to which I freely helped myself… the village official sat on a right corner of the room with arms akimbo observing the proceedings with nary a pipsqueak… and Roy Camacho, an NLRC arbitration officer on workdays who appointed himself as my right-hand man—he sat in calm menace near the door-- had both hands tucked into his jacket’s front pockets, maybe with a pair of cocked cannons, likely itching to blast away and call it a day.
So we passed palaver. The halogen bulb over our heads just wasn’t boiling bright or glaring enough to chuck clammy coldness seeping in the room and into our bones… or in the adjacent village hall were I repaired to with the rest of our crew after, uh, did our hosts treated me and Roy to six four-by-fours and pig’s blood stew?
A Roy and a de los Reyes—those poseurs were in the company of kings who freely took their fill.
Roy himself drank some more and saw off the military officer; he was likely no lower than a major in rank as evinced by a high level of ease in spoken English and flighty demeanor… why, we ought to thank him for being a generous host… then again, his body language betrayed how he was processing proffered data only with the left brain hemisphere, strictly logical… so inadequate.
Naghanay ako ng tatlong sako ng bigas na tutulugan, yes, that sounded like a warm pile of a big ass… the middle section of that pile sagged, and goes to show I was a 24-karat Centrist, had wet dreams and must have tossed or pumped away a lot in my sleep…
Late evening of the next day, I spewed an earful at the officials of the non-government organization that took me to that place in the boondocks, no cell signal there… six four-by-fours is pittance pay for crop marketing counseling plus generous bits of comedy skit I gave out to sham farmers… and wilt thou strew pearls before swine?