Once in a while, you come to read simple words that will stick into the mind for a long time and as Father Time passes, those words come back either to give solace and encouragement to rally you during trying times.
On the other hand, such words hidden from the recesses of the brain where they laid forgotten, can come back to haunt you.
With the urban and suburban areas in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region 1 wounded raw by a violent pandemic, lives upended and people’s confidence shaken as all head into a new week of relaxed restraint of movement – but with uncertainty.
Yet, amidst such changes, highlanders and lowlanders adapted like water. That is shapeless and formless. But people did adapt. Maybe it’s law of nature often overlooked: that versatility is the compensation for change – in times of trouble.
So it came to pass that as all city and municipal police offices adapted in the way they did in helping the public-at-large, it happened the Ifugao Provincial Police Office (PPO) made their adaption with five simple words that can, at best, be described as erudite in its sense – words than can stick into the mind for a long time.
Ah Kong wonders, whoever or those at Ifugao PPO) who dreamed of those words surely possess metrical verse running in their/his/her veins, like hearts singing a song, incomplete, until other hearts whisper it back.
But of course, Ah Kong holds this unshakeable belief that not only are majority of PNP personnel true and steadfast to their calling; many are also made of the stuff who can make simple words be remembered, can make vision be smelled and listened to, who can bring from beyond that has no form, a form, and who can give language, a soul.
In short, poets hidden, there are, in the ranks of the PNP.With ink of poetry flowing in their blood, these hidden police poets can hear, “never-heard sounds,” “never-seen colors and shapes,” or “understand the imperceptible pervading amongst us.”
What makes Ah “mighty proud” and flash his toothless smile is, he knew by instinct that the five simple words stitched by Ifugao PPO to give form and substance to language of a soul came no less than from highlander mind living somewhere in Ifugao and in sewing the words, gave meaning so profound.
For how best can one explain that when the Ifugao PPO started targeting in helping the elderly there at this time of the pandemic, Ifugao PPO coined it in five words, yet the five words speaks of humankind’s inception from birth to the grave – but the grave giving hope to incoming generation.
Said word simply imply: that our world, everything goes, is then replaced and history repeats itself.
Said five words given a human face by Ifugao PPO is equated by Ah to a song entitled, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” written by Pete Seeger and Joe Hickerson, the song highly popular among highlanders and lowlanders alike.
Parts of the song states, “Where have all the graveyards gone; gone to flowers, everyone.” What do these words convey?
Look closer at the song, for it bespeaks of a cycle of history repeating itself and it won’t change, unless a coming generation or young blood becomes aware of it, be part of the catalyst for change and do something about it.
How the Ifugao PPO coined the words in connection to the Ifugao elderly is, to Ah’s mind, most relevant today because of what is specifically happening.
The song and the words patched together by Ifugao PPO are simply saying, repeatedly, “When will we ever learn to change something by valuing the older generation so history’s mistake doesn’t repeat itself again.”
It was here where the Ifugao PPO bolstered effort to help the Ifugao elderly cope with depression and boredom brought about by the pandemic restrictions, aside from Ifugao PPO’s usual routine of keeping base with communities in their Area of Responsibility (AoR).
Personnel of Ifugao PPO was conveying a message to the elders that, “Your sunset maybe setting, (as all people’s sunset will eventually set) but we are here, besides you all the way; we care, like you cared for us when you were then strong.”
Nobody relishes prospect of aging. But what is worse is the feeling of isolation and loneliness that can come creeping to the elderly during troubled times. These, the Ifugao PPO understands – too well.
Listening to sentiments of the elderly this trying times was the most important feature of the Ifugao PPO thrust, accompanied by mutual conversation, prayers rendering of songs that the elders love to hear, aside from material assistance in the form of gifts and food packs.
For example, PNP PSSg Soniabelle Ngatiyon, made her rounds visiting senior citizens in Burnay, Lagawe, talked with them while giving assorted food packs, aside from helping food packs.
During her sortie, PSSg Ngatiyon also made sure of talking with a l00-year old Lola in barangay Mompolia, Hingyon, Ifugao.
Ifugao PPO only knows too well the virtue and importance of respecting elders, sparing time to listen and spending quality moments with them; that the simple act of paying attention to elders does wonders.
Ifugao PPO only knows too well that the elderly – the Lolos and the Lolas raised the young to believe in the importance of treating others with courtesy and respect.
These past generation has held tight to their dignity, ethics, honesty and faith, which is exactly why being kind and showing compassion is at least one step in the right direction, in a world that is often, or sometimes, devoid of manners.
It was the Community Affairs Development Unit of Ifugao PPO that gave birth to such an elderly approach. Ifugao PPO is headed by Col. David D. Mariano.
The brainchild of Ifugao Community Affairs Development Unit of Ifugao PPO to the elderly, it profoundly termed, “Your Sunset is My Dawn.”
On a keener light about “Your Sunset is My Dawn,” Ifugao PPO holds the universal view that anyone’s time on earth is short; but the time we have with our grandparents is shorter. So, let us not make it that shortest.
Because, for every sunset of a life, it brings the promise of a new dawn of life.
P.S. to Ifugao PPO: Many readers have come across your program, “Your Sunset is My Dawn,” and the title alone touched so many, they revealed to Ah.
They said, its meaning is so deep, yet it holds true to everyone’s life. They wrote Ah to give his thoughts on it. The result is the above and hoping Ah hasn’t disappointed them.
For in fact, such title to a program for elders brings to Ah’s memory of an incident that occurred many years when he was still struggling out in life. It happened in the late 70’s:
Now, tribes people from Ifugao are universally known for their witty humor that can make one slap the knee in outright mirth.
Ah remembers his humorous and former director, the late Teodoro “Teddy” Baguilat, Sr., during their years back with the Highland Agricultural Development Project (HADP) but now renamed Cordillera Highland Agricultural Management Project (CHARMP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA-CAR).
Whenever HADP personnel were on Official Business (OB) in hinterland Cordillera and in company of their director, travels on the dusty and bumpy roads at Halsema National Highway were always colored by the hearty humor of Baguilat, Sr., who can make even any HADP personnel possessed with a dour disposition, smile grudgingly.
Ah remembers Baguilat, Sr., unpretentious, yet pragmatic, expansive in his generosity and sharing in other’s delight.
There was that year in the late 70’s, one Friday, (government employees often call flyday) after office hours, director Baguilat gathered round some male HADP personnel for a drink before they dispersed for home.
One employee caught the attention of Baguilat, who discerned the discomfort of the employee, who just starting out in life, was in economic dire strait. Midway in their social drinking, that employee asked to be excused.
As the employee distanced himself from the group, Baguilat called him back. The employee turned to face his director. But Baguilat was already striding towards him.
Nearing his subordinate and without speaking, Baguilat dipped into his breast pocket, produced a large amount of bills and silently, but smiling, gave the money to his subordinate.
He clamped his hand on the subordinate’s shoulder gently and said in Ilocano, “Saan ka madanagan, anak, ti biag sumaysayaat tu, para kenyam.” Then switched to English, saying, “That I assure you as your elder.”
Baguilat, having more life experience under his belt, was giving a hope of dawn for a struggling young man.
That employee happens to be your Ah Kong. Baguilat’s omen rang true.
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