Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A village called B'la

People in the village are dying faster than I can talk to them. He told me his mother came from Bohol but he did not know where she met his father. When he began his story, he was living alone with his mother, because his wife was in Kuwait, and his sons and daughter preferred to go home to their grandmother on their mother’s side rather than to him. I asked, so, who cooks dinner? He said it was his mother. Do you eat together? He said they eat together sometimes, but at other times, they don’t.  I had wanted to see his mother, just to say, hi, if she can still remember the girl in the past, but even before her son could finish his story, she got sick, and while I was away, she died. I suspect that this village was a young village and the people who are dying now, were never really born here. They arrived here at the prime of their lives, settled here, raised a family, and now, they’re dying. I can’t remember where in the Visayas his father came from but he said they were among the earliest people to have settled here in this village when the whole area was still a forest. His father was already gone when he was telling the story.  Although the village is a farming village, theirs were not really a farming people in the real sense of the word, they owned a school supply store, at least; where we used to buy bond paper when we ran short in school. 
While we were talking, another woman about as old as his mother, and who owned the village's longest running rice mill, had lain in a coma and was being taken cared of by their eldest daughter.  She was asleep when she got a stroke, and according to the account of the househelp, her husband had first felt her hand stroking him but he just brushed it aside, until the morning, when he discovered what was wrong.  
Later, I happened to talk with the man, who used to ply the jeepneys that used to bring people and goods to town. He remembered the girl who used to take his jeepney back in highschool. He told me he was born in Iligan before settling here but his father came from Dumaguete City. He and his sibling recently found out that their father had left a beachfront property in Dumaguete City, which they wanted to sell. But someone, a relative or something, was occupying it, so, they were having such a hard time selling it. The man was a good man, they all are, in this village. But unlike my father, he was not a farming man. He'd rather own a store,  a truck, a jeepney, or any vehicle and ply it. Much later, I met another man about his age. He was born in Quiamba, Sultan Kudarat before he settled here, but his mother came from Minglanilla, Cebu and his father from Butuan. He said he had never been in Minglanilla all his life and he was already 73 years old. The man was well-read [[well, he knew the historical role of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the people power at Edsa and unlike most people in this village, he hated Martial Law!]] When he arrived in this village, there were still so many timber trees around.  There were Apitong, Guijo, Lauaan, Tugas, and others. "Was it the logging that wiped them out?" I asked. "No," he said. "People even burn them, when they get in the way of  corn growing!"  Even if Pa had farmed all his life and must have developed some affinity with the soil, I don't really have some romantic notion about his worldviews. I remember the indigenous varieties of mangoes, guava, pomelos, macopa naturally growing in our backyard, which he cut down to give way to the mahogany trees and the gmelinas. He preferred cash crops to fruits.
I saw where your Ma and Pa were buried as we passed by your area. I remember the last time we talked and felt the full impact of the drought.

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