Agatha Watchorna, retired employee of the Department of Agriculture – Cordillera Administrative Region (DA-CAR) and resident of Kalapati St., Dizon-Manzanillo barangay, Baguio City, split her good heart laughing with gusto upon seeing the poster of Daily Laborer hanging somewhere near her home.
When Daily Laborer went his rounds giving complimentary copies of Herald Express duly accorded to him as a gesture of goodwill by Herald Express, and was about to leave the gates of Watchorna, she suddenly said, “Oy, Oy, aguray ka man, biit,” and hastily unlocked her gate.
Poking her lovely face outside her gate, Watchorna pointed to the poster of Daily Laborer not far from her home, and with a mysterious grin spreading across her face said, “Ay apo ka met, kitaem kadi diay picture mo idiay poster, ay apo, kasla ka nga kakaasi!”
“Agasem dayta, kasla kaka-asi piman ti rupam idiay poster,” she repeated with rollicking laughter.
Now, Daily Laborer, before he had his photo taken for his poster and not shaving, he knew beforehand it would surely elicit comments, wise or otherwise. But the seeds of humor had already begun to form in his mind.
He would show to voters of Dizon barangay that his poster photo in the tarpaulin is far different from the photos of others adorning their barangay. Like his photo is the sheep that always strays from the rest of the flock. Orig kunam man. Di barbas pay.
Saan nga kasla dagidiay dad-duma nga napan da amin nagpa-ahit.
He debated on shaving or not shaving but decided that shaving is like a breakup between sweethearts and decided against it. Also mindful that beards are natural, it was very possible that by shaving, he would be hurting the feelings of the beards.
Being affected long by Ifugao friends who can dish out humorous jokes, Daily Laborer thought he can handle the otherwise comments about beards and why a beard is a statement piece of a face.
So, laughing heartily with Watchorna, Daily Laborer responded gaily by saying, “Kasla la ak met lang kadagiti daduma nga Cordillerans nga na apektu-an iti panag-angaw dagiti kakailyan tayu nga taga I-Ifugao. Ginagarak nga saan nga nag-barbas.”
Watchorna, who traces her roots in Barlig, Mountain Province, raised her brows questioningly and Daily Laborer said, “Inaramid ko didjiay saan nga nag-barbas ta kitaek nu dagidiay senior citizens nga ka padak ditoy Dizon Subdivision ket ibotos da met laeng ti pada nga senior. For as they say, birds of the same feathers flock together.”
Watchorna could not help but shake her head in consternation at Daily Laborer. Hopefully, the seniors will flock together to vote for Daily Laborer come October 30 barangay election.
As for the young and non-senior voters, hopefully they will vote for Daily Laborer for his mind and his heart is as young and frisky as the minds of the young generation.
For the words printed in the poster that took the attention of Agatha was: “Vote Bony A. Bengwayan for punong barangay,” and showed the face of a bearded fellow, which only shows that bearded men, even suspicious-looking at that, gets full attention of any onlooker.
Such that even the most beautiful of women in our city and in the provinces of Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) who detest with all their hearts beard-toting men, are forced to turn their heads and squint their eyes questioningly at such bearded men looking like goats or monkeys.
Sa totoo lang, napapalingon sila, di ba?
If you have even noticed, even Baguio City Vice-Mayor Faustino Olowan finds time, once in a while, to let grow his beard and lovingly cultivating it. Daily Laborer doesn’t know how he does it – maybe with complete fertilizers – but Olowan is a strong advocate of the saying that a beard is a canvass for creativity.
See! A beard is just like your ordinary garden just like Olowan demonstrates it: it requires love and attention to flourish.
Even Baguio City councilor Jose Molintas. Daily Laborer endearingly calls him JoeMol. When Fancy tickles him no end, he starts growing an elegant mustache that is the pure envy of Benguet horse-riding cowboys of Wright Park Horse-riding Circle at Pacdal, Baguio City, as well as other Benguet gentlemen.
These Wright Park cowboys revealed they dream of a mustache like that of Molintas and are trying to unearth any organic, inorganic fertilizer – or a mixture of both – to help them in their quest.
As for Molintas, he stands for the fact that a beard is like an ID, something that even Baguio City Local Government Unit (LGU) or the national government can do nothing, nothing at all, to revoke it.
Apparently, sporting beards is one example of how business can do wonders for the success of a people. Just look at Atty. Ryan Solano. When he decides to grow a beard, a lot comes flocking to their law office at downtown Baguio, para idulog ang kanilang hinaing. These clients know fully well that a beard is a symbol of wisdom, maturity and sophistication.
Solano, who can split your sides open with his witty jokes, would be seen clean-shaven sometimes but sometimes, too, would rather stay with a good beard, knowing that a beard is like a good friend, always there when you need it.
Now, Atty. Reynaldo Cortez, the best human rights lawyer in town, while preferring most of the time to be clean-shaven, but definitely respects those who pine for beards, knows for sure that beards are like clouds, unique and always changing.
On another score, Cortez knows for sure, too, that beards can be like a crown on the face, if one wears it with dignity.
Now, along comes a young lady by the name of Lourdes Sarilla and proclaims that all men with their scruffy beards are bastards and goes on to give an example by saying, “Just look at the portrait of Usama Bin Laden.”
“Basta adda barbas na, bastardo,” she growled.
She was referring to the bearded look of Usama Bin Laden, founder of al-Qaeda, designated as a terrorist group by the United Nations Security Council, North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other countries, as well.
Hmmnnnnn! If by bearded look, one gets to be called a bastard, Daily Laborer asked Sarilla then if the Bee Gees, Kenny Rogers, Moses, Santa Claus, Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ who also sported beards can be categorized as bastards. She hastily contradicted herself by saying, “Ay pwera dagidiay nga tat-tao. Gwapo da nga naka-barbas!”
Sarilla, by admitting that she prefers looking at clean-shaven Filipinos, even went on to suggest that Cordillerans sporting beards should be taxed and the revenues added to the coffers of the city government.
While her proposal is welcome, Daily Laborer isn’t so sure if Molintas, Solano and Cortez would take up such an agenda for discussion, short of being mentioned even as a topic.
The power of the beard, however, is nil, zero, kaput when one is in the military or police service. Choose to wear a beard and you gera are everywhere. But those who abstain from growing beards choose to ignore beard growers or set drummed out. In other words, kicked out.
Aha! Some beards are bushy, others are peachy. Some are distinguished-looking. Others are scruffy. Others inspire love and trust. Yet others evoke fear and loathing, like the beard of Satanas.
Abraham Lincoln’s beard evoked patriotic devotion. While Shakespeare’s beard evokes artistic brilliance. But no matter who their bearer or what shape, all beards have one thing in common: these can be a nest for lice or in our dialect, “koto.”
Beards in Baguio and the rest of Cordillimply do not notice them. Beard growers have been on the receiving end of everything from questioning looks to outright stares of distrust.
Perhaps, no human feature has been more the subject of fashion’s changeable humors than beards. One Cordilleran, Camilo Lanaben asks, “What is a beard? Hair? And what is hair, a beard?”
One time, long ago, Daily Laborer came across a scribble by a doctor for his patient which the physician carelessly left on his table. What he went this way: “Person was in the habit of wearing a beard and has often been affected by rheumatic pains in the face, or with sore throat on shaving them off.”
Perhaps, our local artists and painters (who usually are bearded) can be the most competent judges to have universal testimony on beards, whether our forebears did look much wiser in their beards or without them.