Rain pelted Atok, Benguet, last Monday evening, as a bearded hombre slogged and wended his way down a trail leading towards Halsema National Road where there at the roadside, he hoped for a ride to Baguio City.
He travelled to Atok, talked to a Lola wanting to set up entrepreneur activities to generate additional cash to shore up meager budget of families in their place.
The Lola requested anonymity. “Panga-asim, apok, saan mu ipakaamu dakami.” Daily Laborer respects Lola’s wish.
As the bearded hombre cooled his heels along Halsema Road, his thoughts raced back to that Lola.
Many times in dealing with others, he came across Cordilleran folks – humble, almost to a fault – so gracious they’d rather remain incognito even if their deeds cry to be known, if to be emulated.
Many times he witnessed Cordilleran elders bear brunt of exacting labor under scorching sun or relentless pounding rain, so hoping that in the end, their young won’t suffer the same vicious cycle of want.
It forced the bearded hombre to remember the song titled “Man-an-anus Ka,” composed and sang by Joseph Pasigon, from barangay Pasdong, municipality of Atok. It’s often heard in AM and FM radio bands in Baguio.
Some of Pasigon’s lyrics, as bearded hombre remembers them, run thus:
“Man-an-anus ka/Ta malisiay biag ay kananda/Uray sinu din ibagbaga da/Adi kan madisdismaya.”
“Wada et di ubla/Man-gag-gaget ka/Ta addi ka met ammu/Di umali ay tiempo…”
His mind wheeled to the gnarled, bent and cracked fingers of that Lola from too much soil- toil; yet she exuded disposition that shoos off pouting clouds any day, while she laughed at her aged and creaking bones.
That Lola emphasized, “Basta wadda si apo init ken bulan, wadda namnama.”
Waiting for that ride that seemed never to arrive, he espied a broken mirror unceremoniously dumped along Halsema’s roadside by one who had no more use of it, or got rid of it for new.
Smiled, the bearded hombre. A person who discarded the mirror could have been female, as the mirror was small, round and easily stored in a woman’s purse. Just open, see your image, dab somewhat in the face, then close the mirror. Tapos.
He retrieved the mirror and looked at his hazy image. Gazing, he realized that, kanayon, kontrabida ti sarming iti biag na.
For, whenever he stares at a mirror, it stares back, saying “Hi-hi! Kunam gwapo ka? ‘Tagtagainip ka!”
Yet, standing by Halsema Road, the mirror reminded, of that Lola in Atok, and his great Lola, named Mad-an, from Samoki, Bontoc, Mountain Province, now in Almighty’s Bosom.
It mirrored the simple but profound elder teachings of the unschooled, whose wisdom span generations, teaching that something ordinary said by elders become valuable in the future.
Children love to listen to stories ‘bout elders; these stretch their imagination to conception of a traditional great grandfather/grandmother.
T’was in this spirit, one day, long ago, when merely knee-high to a jumping cricket, the bearded hombre was taught by his apong, Mad-an.
Apong Mad-an was no aristocrat of letters. Or bluntly, she knew not, reading or writing.
Many, are experts on, say, topics like geography, technology, ideology, reflexology, cosmetology, eatamology, (mangan), etc.
Of which apong Mad-an was ignorant of. But, expert she was, on issues like futog-ology or beteg-ology (about pigs), camote-ology (about camote) mamoknag-ology (work in fields), mangaew-ology (secure firewood), agbayo-ology (pound rice), menuto-ology, (cook) agsakdo-ology (fetch water) and other practical oology.
She gave this bearded hombre the chance to pass through life with one formed to penetrate into mysteries of thought and revel in appreciation of simple living.
Oh, how apong Mad-an can rouse into anybody a feast of reason, flow of soul and a loftier energy of thought.
That one day, long ago, Mad-an said to the bearded hombre to lend his ear and expounded her thoughts on discovery. “Yes, apok,” she said, “I relate something that pays a thousand-fold for your time and attention. I give you thoughts on heavenly bodies.”
Saying that, Mad-an told her grandson, “Know ye that the sun is the man, and moon, the woman.” In clear understanding, the sun is husband and the moon, the wife.
Stars are their children, being the hopes of Sun and Moon, so emphasized Apong Mad-an.
Apong Mad-an explained the matter succinctly. There’s a first child. Being biggest and strongest, he was child- boss. (Apparently, she referred to Saturn, but didn’t know the name). There’s another, hot-headed and fiery, as seen by his appearance. (She apparently referred to Mars, but didn’t know the name.)
“Now let’s look at the gal children. Why bless me, there’s only one, but rich in transparent complexion you can see her twice as far off, easily as you can see a balitok twice as far off as you can see a stone.” She referred to Venus, but didn’t know the name.
“Now, apok, call to mind what you’ve heard in school, and see whether it will not give you the origin of heaven mythology; that is, heaven mythology is derived entirely from the appearance of fathomless universe.”
“But let’s return to sun and moon. The sun, as I said before, is the man and the moon, the woman. The sun, like the man, is bigger. The moon, like a woman, smaller. The sun, like the man, is fierce and hot-headed.”
“The moon, like the woman, is pale and weak, possessing equanimity of temper and fickleness.”
“For sometimes she shows her true face, like a side face, which is first quarter, then her full face, which is full moon, then again another face, which is last quarter. See! She’s is a sight fickler than the sun.”
“The sun, like a man, stays at home, interfering not, with domestics of neighbors, keeps good hours, gets up earlier before daylight and always up at sunrise, reason why he has such good color in his cheeks,” apong Mad-an said, and chuckled.
“As for the moon, like a woman, she likes to go out and gad about, go visit somewhere, leave her children, the stars, to take care of the house.”
“The moon, like a woman, keeps bad hours, for often we don’t see her up at daylight; she’s only up all night long. So natcherly, we don’t find her up at daylight,” apong Mad-an harrumphed.
“So we’re always sure to find the moon, like the woman, sleeping and snoring, positive proof that she had been up all night, real cause of her pale and languishing look.”
“The sun, like the man, is bone and sinews of loftiness, high-mindedness, greatness, daytimes.”
“The moon, like the woman, is flesh and blood of beauty, loveliness, sweetness of temper, and everything upon whom it affords us great delight to gaze.”
“What a curious sensation we feel when walking through mountain trails in the evening but lighted up by smile of her countenance; how we sigh and gaze, and gaze and sigh,” apong Mad-an, too, sighed.
“How fascinating the moon steals upon our hearts, drowns our senses and shuts our sight. Tell me, my apo, isn’t this delight?”
“Thus, then, you see the reason why sun is called he and the moon, she,” apong Mad-an so explained.
With this reason, I, include, hoping when you go to bed, with truth fully pressed upon your mind, blessing the light of discovery, the sun and moon your unselfish-teacher friends, as you mirror discoveries as you age, Apong Mad-an said, that one day, long ago.
With that reverie, a Baguio-bound vehicle stopped, picked up the bearded man as the gathering dusk swallowed the mirror he placed back on the roadside.