Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Timber Dreams

“I want to plant timber, Pa, I want to collect them all,” I said, “I will cover the land with molave, Philippine teak, dipterocarp, Philippine mahogany, even the old lauans which used to thrive here.”
I told him how I loved indigenous trees and had already befriended someone who knew where I can source the Red Lauan.  I said I knew where I can find the seedlings of Ilang Ilang and all kinds of trees, including what other people think are useless ones. I said there is no such thing as a useless tree. I’ve been hunting for a tree called Makuno, or Ironwood, which an environment director once described to me as a wood so hard it could replace real iron needed for an important part of a ship engine; and in one area hit by a landslide, people talked about the fall of an old ironwood tree, which caused the number of the dead to swell. There, people began to fear an ironwood as they feared something evil but I figured out, the ironwood was only getting back what had been taken from the environment. After years of neglect and abuse, the soil where the ironwood stood, had loosened; causing it to fall.
I remember Pa beaming with excitement. In the morning, I had set out with my camera.  I found him sitting in the sofa and I said, I’m going outside to take some pictures, are you going with me, Pa? He smiled. I must have sensed him wanting to go.  I must have seen something in his eyes. But I only planned to go somewhere near the rice fields, where for an hour or so, I lay crouched under a rectangular trellis, the one used perhaps for ampalaya or upo or other crawling vine, which was not there anymore.  
I was trying to compose a picture, experimenting with different angles, while a farmer or two had passed me by, wondering what I was doing there. 
When I went back to the house, someone from the farm had been calling on my phone. “Are you coming? Your Pa is here, looking for you.”
He expected me to go to the farm.
He must have been excited by my dream to plant timber.  But my love for images, the impulse to capture the world through the lens of the camera, got in the way

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Argao belfry mirrored in the puddle of water

Shortly after the traditional nine-day prayer (novenas are always nine days, stupid), sister made an edict that Ma should spend some time in  Argao, Ma's hometown, just to see people from her childhood--and perhaps--to keep her mind off the memories of Pa (how can she keep off memories?!); and that, I should accompany Ma make the historical trip. I didn't know how sister got this outlandish idea, but I did not protest, and had accompanied Ma to the place, which also held my endless fascination since I was a child. "We should all go there, one of these days," I told my boys, "The soil there is white because it's made of limestone, unlike here in Mindanao, where the soil black," I said, without bothering to explain what difference the white limestone and the loamy black soil brings to farmers. 
But when we reached Argao, I never got the chance to go to the house on the hill where Ma grew up, and where we had summer memories looking out of its big windows out to sea. 
Right in the morning of our arrival, I missed the apple cider vinegar I've been taking to heal my skin rashes and skin sores, and decided to substitute it with two or three spoonfuls of the vinegar I found on the table.  Later, I was seized by chills and a fever.[Are you crazy? What did you do?" my Aunt, a biologist teaching at the Pamantasan ng Maynila, called in, angry, "You can't substitute that vinegar for apple cider--it's acetic acid!]   The doctor, also a relative, kept repeating, "No doctor ever recommended that you take apple cider," a veiled criticism for the relative she had seen for the first time.  She suspected that my stomach pain could have been caused by the vinegar  -  but she can't explain the chills and the fever, so she sent us to  the laboratory to have some tests taken but when  we got there, the lab was closed and would open only at 8 am the following day.
So, we went home and saw this puddle that caught the image of the Argao's belfry on water.  I never got to have that lab exams, though.  I know that it will still show the running allergy that kept showing in my past laboratory results and which I continued to ignore. I should go see the doctor soon! Promptly!