Tsinelas na Parehong Kaliwa at Iba Pa

Tsinelas na Parehong Kaliwa
At Iba Pa
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ayaw ko sanang ikwento ang mga hindi pangkarinawang insidente sa buhay ko na itinuturing kong epektibong pang-laughter therapy, dahil tuwing maalala ko ang mga ito ay hindi ko maiwasang tumawa, bigay todo pa, kahi’t mag-isa lang ako. Pero dahil gusto ko ring sumaya ang mga kaibigan ko, ito sini-share ko na lang.

Noong Consultant ako sa National Library of the Philippines, makailang beses kong natiyempuhan ang baha sa T.M. Kalaw St. tuwing ako ay pauwi na. Upang hindi ako mahirapan sa paghakbang sa hanggang tuhod na baha, nagbabaon ako ng matibay na sandal, pampalit sa balat na sapatos na iniiwan ko sa opisina. Minsang pauwi ako at malapit na sa Taft. Ave. kung saan ako sasakay ng bus sa pag-uwi ko, may nadaanan akong isang babae na halatang sa suot na uniporme ay janitress, at may hawak na isang gomang sapatos na tuklap ang suwelas, mangiyak-ngiyak pa. Tinanong ko kung papasok ba siya o pauwi na, at sagot naman niya ay papasok pa lang. Sunod kong tanong ay kung may ekstra siyang dalang sapatos o tsinelas man lang. Ang sagot ay wala daw. Kinuha ko ang sapatos niya at inihambing ang sukat sa hinubad kong sandal – halos pareho! Malaki kasi ang babae. Sabi ko gamitin niya ang sandals ko. Noong umpisa tumanggi siya, pero noong pilitin ko sabay sabi na wala siyang makikitang gagawa ng sapatos niya dahil baha at hapon na, pumayag na rin. Nakamaong ako noon kaya okey lang na nakalilis ang pantalon ko hanggang tuhod habang naglalakad sa baha nang nakapaa. Ang balak ko ay bumili ng tsinelas na suot ng kung sinong vendor o yong mga nagtutulak ng tumirik na sasakyan.

Habang naglalakad ako, patingin-tingin ako sa mga paa ng mga vendor na kasalubong ko…puro nakapaa. Maswerte ako at may nakita akong lumulutang na isang tsinelas – kaliwa, kulay puti. Pinulot ko at binitbit. Mabait talaga ang Diyos dahil ilang hakbang pa lang, may napulot uli akong nakalutang na isa pa – subalit kaliwa pa rin, kulay pula nga lang. Parehong kasya sa akin, yon nga lang parehong kaliwa. Sabi ko sa sarili di bale na.

Isinuot ko ang tsinelas nang sumakay ako sa bus. Walang nakapansing ibang pasahero dahil inayos ko na ang pantalon ko na may kahabaan, maliban sa katabi ko sa upuan na usisera. Pasimple pang kunwari ay sinabihan akong pareho daw kaliwa ang tsinelas ko. Sabi ko sa kanya, galing ako sa isang arbularyo at nagpagamot dahil sinasapian ako. Sinabihan ko ang katabi ko na arbularyo ang nagpasuot sa akin ng mga tsinelas upang ang sumasapi sa akin ay malito dahil parehong kaliwa ang suot kong tsinelas…at kaya puti ang isa ay para sa sa busilak kong puso at ang isa ay pula, dahil lumalaban ito sa masamang ispiritu. Diretso ko siyang tiningnan sa mga mata habang nagsasalita ako na seryoso, kaya naniwala siya. Akala ko tatahimik na, yon pala nagtanong pa kung taga-saan ang arbularyo. Sabi ko na lang palipat-lipat ng pwesto para hindi siya masundan ng mga nakalaban niyang masamang ispiritung sumasapi…marami na daw kasi sila. Naniwala uli ang usisera hanggang sa bumaba ako sa tapat ng lugar namin. Habang tumatayo ako mula sa upuan, sabi ko sa kanya, hipan ang upuan ko upang walang maiwang ispiritu na hindi nakasapi sa akin. Sa paglingon ko sa kanya habang papunta ako sa pinto ng bus, nakita kong ihip siya ng ihip sa dating upuan ko, nakatingin naman ang naghihintay at susunod na uupong pasahero. Sana hindi siya kinabagan sa kaiihip…usisera kasi!

One time naman, sa isang bahay na pinuntahan namin sa Tondo, nagkaubusan ng pinggan kaya ang ginamit ko ay takip ng kaldero. Tanghalian noon, at wala pa kasi akong almusal kaya gutom na gutom na ako. Nahiya ang maybahay na kumare ko, kaya nanghiram ng pinggan sa kapitbahay para sa akin, pero pinilit kong sa takip ng kaldero pa rin kumain dahil naumpisahan ko na. Dinugtungan ko na lang ang paliwanag ko sa kumare ko na susuwertehin taong kakain sa takip ng kaldero kung naubusan ng pinggan dahil, bahagi ito ng pinanggalingan ng pagkain – ng grasya, at takip pa, hindi tulad ng pinggan na binabasag sa pintuan ng bahay na nilalabasan ng patay na dadalhin na sa sementeryo upang ilibing. Ganoon pala, sabi ng kumare ko. Mula noon, tuwing pupunta ako sa kanila, palaging sinasadya niyang maubusan ng pinggan upang makagamit ng takip ng kaldero sa pagkain!

Minsan pa rin, nagkaubusan naman ng tinidor sa isang party, kaya parehong kutsara ang ginamit ko. May nagtanong na bisita kung bakit parehong kutsara ang gamit ko, sabi ko may kaugalian sa amin na ipinagbabawal ang pagtusok sa pagkain o pagkahig ng pagkain sa pamamagitan ng bagay na may tulis – na tinidor nga. Ang sabi ko, dapat nga nagkakamay ako dahil ayaw kong “saktan” ang pagkaing papasok sa katawan ko, pero dahil may mga kutsara naman, gumamit na ako ng mga ito na masuwerte rin dahil lumalabas na parang gumagamit ako ng pala (shovel) sa pagpapasok ng grasya sa bunganga ko. Bumilib siya kaya nang sunod ko siyang makita, pinagpipilitan niyang gamitan ng kutsara ang porkchop sa pinggan niya.

Sa buhay natin, mayroong mga pangyayaring hindi inaasahan, kaya dapat palagi tayong handa upang matanggap ang mga ito sa pamamagitan ng remedyo. Ito ang unang-una sa listahan ko ng mga panuntunan sa buhay, upang halimbawang madagukan man ako ng masamang kapalaran, ituturing ko na lang itong parang rekado na pampasarap sa nilulutong pagkain, o di kaya ay parang kapeng may kapaitan man ay masarap na ring inumin dahil nakakatanggal ng umay o nakakasawang lasa ng pagkain.

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The Mummies of Kabayan

The Mummies of Kabayan
By Apolinario Villalobos

Mummification as a process to preserve the dead is not practiced exclusively by the Egyptians. Early settlers of many countries also used it as found out by archaeologists of the modern times. Among these countries is Philippines.

Before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1521, there lived in Kabayan,a group of people, called Ibaloi, who were believed to be among the second wave of Malays who from migrated from Southwest Pacific Islands. They were believed to have sailed through Indonesia and Borneo, until finally, settling on the coastal shores of Pangasinan.

They proceeded north, following the course of the Agno River. Upon reaching the highlands of Benguet, they settled in valley of which they named Baloi. As the story goes, an epidemic broke out in their settlement, that spared several families, the seven of which continued their trek northward, while the rest retraced their steps back to Pangasinan.

The seven families that went north found a valley rich in wild animals and wild edible roots. They decided to stay and named the valley Embossi. The settlement is now what is bounded by the villages of Kabayan, such as Gusaran, Pacso and Asokong. One time, the hunters of the group encountered kinky-haired and black pygmies who also roamed the forest for games. They called the pygmies, “Ansisit” (small people) to distinguish them from themselves who were referred as “Adagut” (tall people).

The new settlers put to practice their knowledge in agriculture by making rice terraces along the borders of the settlement. Not long after, they also came in contact with the Kalangaya Tribe which had preceded them, and who settled at Ahin and Tinoc, which are now parts of the Ifugao Province. Intermarriages caused the split of the Ibaloi tribe into two groups: the first claiming ancestry from the Embossi and the second from Tinoc. For clearer distinction, the Ibaloys were referred to as “Ipaway” (people of the plain), while the Kalangayan as “Ikalahan” (people of the jungle or mountains).

In time, members of the Ipaway group settled in Kabayan, Lutab, Digew, Daclan, Bokod, Itogon, Tuba, Sablan, La Trinidad, Tublay, Atok and some areas along the Cordillera mountain ranges. The Ikalahan on the other hand, settled in other areas of the mountain ranges, particularly in Tawangan, Amlimay, Lusod, and also, Kabayan.

Among the traditions of the Ibaloi, the most significant was the mummification of their dead, which old folks of the tribe would relate to the younger ones, as if telling them a legend while pointing to the direction of the Singakalsa Mountain. The said mountain, rising to 7,000 feet above sea level, was and still is the favorite hunting ground of the tribe. They would refer to the mountain as the repository of their “meking” or dried corpse. In 1908, two hunters, Magno Duna and Berong Sakunat of Lutab, Kabayan Cetral, chanced upon a cave, the entrance of which were hidden by bushes, where they found crudely- made wooden coffins that contained well-preserved corpses, practically, dried.

Another story is about the discovery of a burial cave due to the sound of “kalsa” (gong), that a hunter heard while tracing the footprints of a deer. At first, he thought that the sound came from a village down the valley, but when it became louder, he found the source to overhead, from a cliff. The hunter and his companion went up the cliff and searched for the gong. They found it hanging by the branch of a pine tree that seemed to mark the entrance to a cave. Inside the cave, the hunters found four coffins, containing nine well-preserved remains, one of which was that of a baby. When the hunters took another way in coming down from the cliff, they discovered another cave where they found a lone mummy, but not yet placed inside a coffin.

When stories about the discovery of the mummies spread in the villages of Kabayan, the old folks understood why the mountain was called “Singakalsa”. The name could have been referred to the sound of gongs that they would hear during windy days. The stories of discoveries were soon forgotten, as no member of the tribe ever tried to make an attempt to re-visit them.

The late ‘70s saw the spate of discoveries of burial caves in the Cordilleras. Among these were the Opdas burial cave which was said to be used by a family during the late part of the 15th century. It was discovered in 1972 by Baban Berong, an Ibaloi. Other burial sites are the Kanga, located on the mountain slope of Sadan, Tenongchol, the entrance of which was carved on top of a solid rock, Timbak, Naapay and Bangao.

There was a rash of tomb raids to steal mummies, some of which were brought out of the country. The most celebrated stolen mummy was that of Apo Annu, a tribal leader of Benguet. His remains were stolen from a burial cave in Natubling, Benguet between 1918 and 1920 by a Christian pastor, according to a story, and ended up as a special feature of circus shows in Manila. Ownership of the remains changed hands several times, until the antique collector who last held on to it, made a decision to donate it to the National Museum in 1984.

During my visit to Kabayan, I found some mummies encased in glass for protection and in the custody of the municipal government. Much care was observed when they were brought out of their protective glass encasement.

The returned stolen mummies have been returned to their respective burial caves and the local government deemed it necessary to keep their locations a secret for fear that looting may again ensue. The burial caves of the Kabayan mummies have been officially declared as National Cultural Treasures by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 374. They have also been officially declared as endangered sites by the UNESCO.