Dragon Stories and My Antique Dragon Bracelet
By Apolinario Villalobos
The reason, perhaps, why the armadillo scales command the highest price among the considered medicinal wildlife is their resemblance to the scales of the dragon. I thought about this while looking at the dragon bracelet just given to me by a Chinese friend. Without asking any information about it, except being told that it is antique and got health benefits, I presumed that it is made from “copperized” antique Chinese silver wires intricately woven into round “scales” and intertwined to resemble the dragon, complete with a head whose extended tongue locks with a small loop that serves as its tail.
From among the pages of a hundred year old book about the history of nations, I came across an item about how an early Chinese empress paid for the expense in the laying down of a railroad track by Russia, across a portion of the vast Chinese territory, tore it up and dumped the iron segments into the sea, because it offended the earth dragon. Eclipse according to the Chinese legend occurs when the dragon swallows the moon or the sun. Among the Christians, the mention of St. George is never complete without the dragon. Practically, many cultures around the world are made intriguing and colorful by the dragon. Legends are replete with heroic stories that revolve around them, although, some had to be subdued in order to be transformed from being bad to good. Even popular motifs and designs are tainted with dragon form such as the “sarimanok” and “naga” of Southeast Asia.
In reality, modern relatives of the dragon are thriving around us. The gecko is among them, as well as, the innocently-looking house lizards that with extended tongue can put the bigger cockroach to flight. Their bigger relatives are the crocodiles (crocs) and alligators (gators), the strength of which earned respect from the early Egyptians who revere them very much. By contrast, in the Philippines, they represent greedy government officials and politicians voted to their positions in the halls of the Senate and Congress.
On the Caramoan Peninsula of the Philippines’ Bicol Region, can be found the “caramoan dragon”, which in time has become rare. And, on an island of Indonesia can be found the “komodo dragons” which are being taken cared of because of the discovered medicinal value of their saliva.
Back to my dragon bracelet, I almost relegated it to the drawer because it seems too vulgar and eye-catching, until the day I wore it. While strolling along Roxas Boulevard, a tourist stopped me, pointed at my wrist with the bracelet and asked if I would like to part with it. To check its value, I asked the guy, how much he was willing to shell out for my bracelet just in case I decided to part with it. He asked me if USD100 was okey but if wanted more, we could haggle. He looked at it closely and asked, “is it 10k?”. Surprised by his comment, I realized the bracelet’s dull golden luster. I did not part with my bracelet. My Chinese friend who gave it to me is the nephew of the old Chinese gentleman who gave me his tourmaline bracelet when I brought him home from Luneta, after losing his way many months ago. To maintain its antique look, I never had it cleaned, since the day I got it.