Whenever you are in a new place, you try to acclimatize yourself, discover new people and learn their traditions, choose your words carefully and more importantly, know the terrain and everything in the vicinity. That said, you can have be assured of a smooth assimilation.
All the information I needed back then was stored in my head. I was more aware of the dangers of wild animals than meeting bad people along the way.
There was one anecdote I could not forget. It was very amusing but also very educational.
A newly-arrived man from the Visayas tried his best to please his relatives who permitted him to stay in their land. He was very polite and industrious. Naturally, he became an asset in his relatives’ endeavors such as farming and fishing.
One night, there was a full moon. He came home late from the seashore, digging for shells to serve as presents to his relatives. What he brought would be cooked for breakfast the next day.
A few kilometers from his destination, he passed by the bamboo groves. The area was dark because moonlight could not penetrate the thick outgrowths underneath. He was not afraid because he had a small jungle knife tucked in his waist.
He saw movements near the roots of the bamboo. Silently, he came nearer to investigate.
To his relief, he saw a ‘piglet’ rummaging for food. It did not try to run when he caught it. He held it in his arms tightly.
He thought his relatives would be very happy to receive the ‘piglet’ to care for. Whistling gleefully while walking, he knew that his place in the community was secured.
The patriarch of the family was near the fence relieving himself when he saw the new guy coming. Since the wind blew to his direction, he smelled the foul odor approaching. He undoubtedly knew what it was and which animal produced such offensive smell.
The new guy was coughing wildly but he did not mind. He wanted to reach home and present his find.
“Get out of here!” ordered the old patriarch. “Now!”
The new guy was stunned. He felt he did something to aggrieve his patron.
“Put that away from here!”
“What is it?” the new guy asked, lowering his voice so as not to anger his patron more.
The patriarch pointed to his ‘piglet’ as if it was the devil incarnate.
Frightened about something he did not understand, he ran as fast as he could and let the animal free after nearly a kilometer. Then, he went back home confused, waiting for an explanation to be given him.
The old patriarch gathered dried leaves in a pile. Later, he approached a jack fruit tree and plucked fresh leaves, which he placed on top of the pile.
“Come here!” the old man ordered, lighting the pile with a match. Thick smoke billowed and spread around.
“Faster,” the old man used his palm to cover his nose and mouth. “Go near the pile. The smoke will remove that ‘perfume’ of yours.”
He did as he was instructed. He could hear the patriarch’s explanation while he tried to bathe himself with the natural cleanser.
“You brought home a pantot!”
(It is a native skunk that resembles a piglet with a small tail. To date, I saw several up close. Naturally, I would not dare capturing one.) 😀