Butterfly Chasers

Once, during childhood, have you ever chased a butterfly? Or skinned raw your “tumeng” (knees) and “siko” (elbows) trying to catch one? Or, in failing, you sighed, “I’d be a butterfly!”

Such experience – which not all children encountered – erupted from the long forgotten memory of Ah Kong’s senile mind when, passing last Sunday the road going to Kapangan, Benguet, he saw three children merrily pursuing a butterfly.

Ah stopped his motorcycle and watched. And memories came flooding back.

Then an urchin who was always went barefoot because he believed before that “no naka-tsenelas ka ket naka-dress-to-kill ka,” he, too, many times tried to catch a butterfly.

But all Ah got for such efforts were knees, elbows scraped off their skin and bloodied, by tripping to the ground as he reached for the butterflies that gaily danced from reach.

Despite the scratches and wounds he got, those experiences are diamond-memories forever. Not every child had that chance to romp around snaring a colorful and flying magic.

Ha! The fanciful fantasy of fighting castles in the air is certainly indigenous, or why does every child want to leap, run and instinctively spar at the flapping of a butterfly?

Downhill, uphill, through briars and through meadows, in vain pursuit of captivating the tender winged insect, an illustration of character that after all, a child’s heart, molded in mirth, believe that butterflies are self-propelled flowers.

In failing to catch a butterfly, the boyhood and girlhood in us unconsciously hark that come next time around, we pray there will be a miracle.

Even dogs have been seen trying to catch a butterfly, leaping into the air, barking roundabouts only to end up biting their tails, panting down for rest, unsuccessful in their butterfly quest   while sitting on their haunches, praying for a miracle.

For miracles do happen. As Bong Cayabyab, a good friend, believer that laughter is good medicine, works for the city government and assigned at Baguio City Hall’s   Public Information Office, found out last Tuesday.

Bong revealed to Ah Tuesday that he discovered his pet dog down on his haunches and praying fervently. Bong crept near and heard his dog praying, “Apo, dawat ko kuma nga isardeng ni among ko (dog was referring to his boss, Bong) ti panaginom na ti arak daytoy baro a tawen.”

“Ngamin apo,” Bong’s dog continued, “pirme matalimudaw ak iti but-buteng ko apaman nga maibusan isuna iti pulutan asana tu serpat-serpatan ken kindat-kindatan siak, ah!”

See! Even dogs pray, believing in the power of prayers that bodes well for miracles.

Bong wouldn’t even for a second hurt a fly, much less his pet dog. But his  dog unnaturally   feels butterflies in its stomach, (or gut feeling) and becomes suspicious whenever it sees any human being slurping his tongue in anticipation while looking at any dog.

In many an idle evolution, the butterfly enjoys its summer existence, resting for a second on the cheek of a Benguet lily, exploring the recesses of a gladiola, scrutinizing the needles of the pine tree or landing softly on the wild sunflower; then upwards, forwards, backwards and straightforward away it goes.

While we, boys and girls, all butterfly pursuers, continue chasing, pleased, vexed, heated, tired, but quite certain of success with our stealthy pace and marksman attitude, even though we are stung by rosebush thorns, tripped or banging our heads (aray ko!) against a gate or wall.

Still, the butterfly temps us hither and yon, through beans or potato fields, over gates of neighbors, over well-tended gardens and tramping down the flowers and just as we thought of pinching the wings of our enchanted inamorata, the she-butterfly mounts the aerial way and away it goes.

Ah remembers Roy Dominguez, a boyhood friend from Bauko, Mountain Province, who always flung his cap in utter madness at any fleeing butterfly enchantress.

Once, Roy thought he captured a butterfly. On his knees, he gently pressed his cap to the ground with one hand and placed his other hand creepingly under it.

Alas! Roy’s delusion. He looked around and o la-la! The tantalizing enchantress hovered over his head, fluttered just out of reach, conscious of having led Roy on a wild goose chase.

It’s believed that those who experienced butterfly chasing can interpret events with touch of the romantic poet. You disagree? If so, why? If not, why not?

Ah present a case in point about this. Macio Dalipang, 58, from Cordillera region, had numerous and happy encounters pursuing a butterfly, never mind if many of his butterfly encounters ended in failure.

But when he entered school, it was evident, he had a way with words. He was poetic.

T prove this point, Macio’s talent surfaced December.  Macio and two foreigners were having a friendly drink in a bar in La Trinidad, Benguet. A gorgeous woman entered the bar floating like a butterfly and stinging everybody’s admiration.

The woman was exquisitely beautiful and enchanting, like a charming inamorata.  She hovered near Macio, the two foreigners and said, “Any among you three pogi fellows who can use the words “cheese” and “liver” creatively can have the opportunity to dance with me this evening.”

Well, the first foreigner stood up and said, “I love eating liver and cheese.”  The beautiful inamorata raised her eyebrows, pouted and said, “Not creative enough.”

So the second foreigner also stood up and bellowed, “I hate liver and cheese!”  The beautiful butterfly winked her eye and whispered, “Ah-ah, not creative enough.”

Well, Macio, the Cordilleran, eyed the   beautiful woman, sipped his drink and casually said, “Liver alone; cheese mine!”

“How poetic!” The beautiful lady exclaimed and granted Macio a rare dance.

It’s also believed, as expounded by good friend Professor Silvestre Aben of the Benguet State University (BSU) that, somehow, one way or another, in life, all of us are butterfly chasers.

Silvestre says that at age 40, we are butterflies who are either less educated or highly educated. Yet all are the same. The less educated may even have more dinero than the highly educated.

Come age 50, “beauty” and “ugly” are the same. No matter how beautiful one is, it too, happens this stage is the time we do our damn best to hide our wrinkles, dark spots, white hair and crinkly skin. But it can no more be hidden.

At age 60, we have reached either a “high” or “low” position.” But being low in position is the same. Because, after we retire from work, even a peon will look at us as the same, like “diay dati a boss ko,” or “diay a presidente, diay dati a gobernador, diay dati a… etc.,” Or what say you?

Age 70, we may own either a big or small house. But at this time in life, our joints are creaking, degenerating and we can hardly move around that we require only a wee space to move about.

At 80, oho! We  have money. But much as we want to spend our mucho dinero, we don’t really know what to buy at this age.

Now, comes age 90 and over. We are butterflies who either sleep or are awake. But when we are awake, we really don’t have the idea of what we really want to do.


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