‘E-ma’

Observing last Monday two kabiteros (stone builder) haul big stones and form a mosaic of stone masonry along Halsema National Highway, this not-so simple handiwork of kabite (stone walls) brings out to the fore the truth that probably the one who said “you can’t hold the moon in your hand, (e-ma)” may have sorely missed a point.

You still remember the song taught to you during elementary days of, “I have two hands/the left and the right/Hold them up high/So clean and bright/Clap them softly, one, two three/Clean little hands are good to see.”

Yes, you do, gentlemen and gentlewomen and gentlewomen and gentlemen.

Watching the two kabiteros do their job, this blockhead of a laborer who’s remarkable for always being absent-minded, has drawn a conclusion that he thinks the hand is certainly most important part of the human body rather than the head.

That when it comes to heads versus the hands, the ima is surely going to win.

Certainly, because, this daily laborer who never learned the art of kabite, and most singularly having the knack of doing everything the wrong way, firmly believes the hand being most significant than the head.

He is of the firm conviction that the head is merely a bulbous root growing between the shoulders, a mere appendage just to put a hat upon, fill up the hallow of a wig or have the haircut.

Just take an example of this poor creature of a laborer who has a bitter head and being the most bitter man in the world.

He was born on a bitter cold day, when the sky and the clouds were bitter, and everybody was bitter around him. He came into the world in bitter times and has been growing bitter ever since.

He likes to eat things that have a bitter taste like parya and the like.

So, if kabiteros can form that magical mosaic of stone masonry and you have clean hands good to see, then surely, the moon can be held in the cusp of the hand.

Look at another way: When a mortal loses a hand, that of course, is incapacity or being physically challenged. But such mortal can still function, despite the limitation.

However, if a mortal loses his/her head, that’s the end of the troubles of such mortal and never can such mortal complain, whine or sue in court.

Let’s angle it still another way. Supposing a mortal is born without a head, that would cut an eerie and strange sort of human being.  Just like the story of the headless horseman in the story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hallow.”

You don’t know the story? Well, During the American Revolutionary War, a soldier with the British forces fighting the American revolutionaries was killed. He was decapitated by artillery fire. The British retrieved his body but couldn’t find the head.

Ever since, according to legend, that soldier rose from the grave as a malevolent ghost, furiously hunting for his head.

Now, back to a mortal born without a head. We would surmise that such headless being will be a good neighbor, a good citizen, and might even pass the examination to become a dedicated police officer to protect us.

For in the requirements to apply as police officer in the Philippine National Police (PNP), nothing in it bars a headless figure, in applying to be a rookie police officer, in like manner that nothing literally bars anyone without a head to apply for any job.

But without a hand, applying as police officer can be a big, real and tough problem.

The problem becomes bigger and most complicated when a mortal, born without a head and a hand, applies for a job.

See! We cannot climb the ladder to labor with our hands in our pockets.

Now, before you get angry at this simpleton laborer for favoring the hand instead of the head, he is willing to take both sides of the question and accommodate arguments of readers that a head is better than a hand.

Still, this laborer with a useless head can’t help but being partial to the hands. Hands are often not bossy. Unlike the head which is always bossy, as experienced by this bozo.

One day, his friend lito Badiwan from Benguet, asked, “Hey, Ah Kong, tell me, who’s the real boss in your home?”

Ah: “Well, the wifey bosses the children and say anything, the children boss the dogs and the cats and say anything, and – “

Lito: “And you?”

Ah: “Well, I can say anything to my camote plants.”

See, what a bossy head can do!

When someone says, “Hats off, gentlemen and gentlewomen, you may keep your wigs on, but please take off your hats,” it’s literally the hand that takes off the hat.

Without hands, jawing women who love to engage in yakking about their neighbors, friends and companions can’t claw the faces of their ka-tsismis and scratch out their eyes when they come into disagreement, if they don’t have the hands.

For indeed, so-called tsismosas don’t use their heads by butting at each other when they fight. They use hands. Remember, only four-footed mammals like cow, carabao or goats love to ram their foes by using their heads.

Can we then conclude that the hand is the channel to our morals? Mebbeso?  Consider:  when we strike a deal with other people, we cement it by shaking hands. However, one cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.

If we got a court case, into the hands of our lawyer our hopes are pinned for the resolution of our case.

When we get sick, into the hands of the physician our failing health is restored.

When we pay tax, into the hands of the tax person goes our tax payer’s money. Where it changes hands, is anybody’s guess.

When the dang and moral-lacking gambler deals with a stack of cards, such gambler deal with his hands, and counts losses by putting hands into empty pockets.

When we cook, we cook with our hands.

In a wedding, a groom takes the hand of his wife-to-be, slips the smallest handcuff in the world (the wedding ring) in the finger of the bride, and announce to all and sundry that he is renouncing his bachelorship and becoming a prisoner for life, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, for gloom or laughter, and putting his fate into the hands of his wife.

Hands are certainly important. Even a thief needs hands to steal from us.

Often we see mortals who do nothing with their heads, like this good-for-nothing laborer.

There are those who, instead of settling their differences peacefully, settle matters with their hands.

Therefore, this senseless laborer announces with finality that, indeed, a hand is the most powerful engine in the possession of mortals.

And if someone out there doubts a little bit of this headless laborer’s announcement, this laborer hopes that someone will be arrested, so that, that someone will declare by tomorrow that, indeed, there’s nothing as powerful as the long hand of the law.

By the by, a hand can also be the best of company. For, like my good friend, Berto Sandoval, from Baguio City, and elder-philosopher, says to this sloth of a laborer, “Show me, Ah Kong, the company you keep, and I’ll tell you the man.”

Now then, for sure, this fool of a laborer has only slightly touched on the topic of e-ma, merely having to show off-hand the importance of the hand.

That being the case, he now leaves the subject to all of you, who are of abler hands, to put finis to our discussion on the hand, my fine readers.

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