Bared

Simple living matters most to me. Yet, life itself is too complex that even the simplest hopes and wishes of an ordinary farmer are fraught with hardships and obstacles.

I do not belong inside the box because I live unlike other individuals who follow the norms dictated by the times. I exist in the manner I prefer: live and let live.

People, most who personally knew me, knows me and acquainted about me, will not agree that I am the same person in the flesh. Positives or negatives, their notions on how I tick could only be described as clashing. I sow confusion by just being me, in people’s minds, that is. And I never intend it to be so.

When I open my mouth, there’s no denying I can express opinions and viewpoints that most people will adhere to. Or against. What vexes any listener is how I could start talking about an inane topic, for example cheap imported toys, for a few minutes, then all of a sudden I segue to world politics dealing with the international row between nations about disputed islands. I detect the ironies clearly. I like to connect the dots which some people do not even see in the first place.

I can be a pain sometimes, okay, most of the time. My fuzzy way of thinking could never be pigeon-holed into any category. This is why so many people like to paint me as a cuckoo. In all honesty, in my opinion, I think it is a compliment.

Oh, it’s just a small part of me. The rest is as human as any of you.

Tempo

The mood for every situation is dictated by the individuals during the event and how they wanted it displayed for themselves and for those observing from the sidelines.

In our case, a subdued ambiance was in order, the gathering followed the norms dictated by tradition. To be frank though, not everything that transpired then was connected to sadness. There were lighthearted moments and a few funny incidents, too. Those welcome sidelights somewhat consoled our grieving hearts.

Take for example the food served to guests during the wake (a nine-day vigil). Most popular (and easiest to procure) are instant coffee mixes and biscuits. As hosts we needed not bother to provide complicated forms of refreshments: Mother chose a similar arrangement. Because I was a few days late (another long story), I was not included in the planning.

As soon as I arrived from the pier, I opened the big box of coconut-flavored homemade candies I brought along. Pre-ordered from an acquaintance who sell them for a living, I was sure they would be a hit, especially to children.

As small tokens of appreciation, Mother reserved half of them to be distributed to medical personnel who assisted her during Father’s hospitalization. I promised to bring more when I come back.

Quiet for most of the time, I listened to stories related to my Father’s life as revealed by relatives. But what caught my attention more was the sight of guests trying out the round-shaped, orange-sized and flat candies we served. If it was not a wake, I bet I would be doubling up with laughter seeing the difficulty some people had savoring the sweets.

“This is too hard for my taste!” a disgusted old man commented, revealing most of his teeth absent and lost long ago. Several tries later and the candy would not be divided in his mouth. He looked like a baby struggling with the pacifier.

“I never had this sweet candy before,” another remarked while licking hers instead of biting small parts bit by bit. She, too, was denied a perfect set of munching tools. Her ordeal could last much of the hour while the candy would only melt if she persisted.

“I can’t wait to finish mine,” an inventive fellow confessed, busy cutting his share with a knife. Like any Filipino, he would find another way to deal with a problem.

“Leave them alone!” a female voice ranted to the group. The old lady readily accepted her limitations and decided not to test her chewing power: she chose a cup of coffee and a small plate of biscuits instead.

I kept my peace and decided not to ruin my calm pose. Cold as ice is a description many people referred to my demeanor.

“It’s okay to smile, or even laugh.”

I did not recognize the person who uttered those words because there were numerous groups around me exchanging pleasantries and stories. Their animated conversations were spiced with quiet laughter and gaps of silence.

Well, he or she was correct, I had to admit. By then, I felt less guilty for having a sunnier disposition. It did not diminish whatsoever the genuine bereavement we shared.

More or less, I almost forgot why I brought those candies along in the first place. To be exact, the specialty was one of Father’s favorites.

Expected

Adjustments are necessary.

Fine tune the love till both sides get it right.

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Weather

There will be highs and lows in a relationship. It’s a matter of finding the right reasons to compromise.

Keep the peace.

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Portent

The owls did it again.

I did not mention this the other day because I seem to remember that I published a post about the local bird of the night predicting (accurately) the departure of life from the body.

Since I changed my sleeping hours, later than usual, I began to hear the noises of midnight and the early morning. Startling and spooky, the owls hooted as if they were talking with one another, keeping track of the invisible to the human naked eye and providing hints of what would come to pass.

Yes, depending on their location and distance from my position, I could take a wild guess where the dead would be located. (It’s a discouraging prospect but it is what it is.)

True enough, or should I say bewildering, the owls maintained their percentage of accuracy to a high level. Supernatural? I could not put a word to describe it. Fantastic, perhaps?

“Did you hear them, too?” my kumpare asked the next day. “I was pissing outside when I thought they were just overhead. I had to hurry up to go inside and hide.”

“You’re exaggerating,” I remarked nervously. “As always.”

“He’s dead,” my kumpare mentioned the name of our neighbor. “The next day after the owls hooted.”

Right there and then, I began to keep a more open mind. I did not know what to say, nor would I want to confirm what my kumpare surmised, I only wished the birds would leave and move far away from our locality.

However, that would be easier to hope for than realized.

When I told my godsons that the aswang was not real, I was simply excluding them from the anxieties and fears of adults. Children should be exempted, while still young, from the ugliness and obscenities of this world and beyond.

Believe it or not, there are unnatural phenomena occurring hereabouts. People could not explain them other than joke around and pretend they were folk tales of old, handed down through generations with embellishments as years went by.

Right now, I could hear the dogs howling one after another. Should I be frightened?

No. I am sure.

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Spinner

After I was forced to log off yesterday, I went out for a walk: to simmer down a bit.

A few minutes later, down the road toward the irrigation canal, I encountered another godson of mine. He rode his bike as if he was hounded by a pack of dogs: he raced, to be exact.

I raised my right hand to signal him to stop. Naturally, I expected him to obey me, sure that with his excellent sight he could recognize me a hundred yards away.

He passed me by, nearly sideswiped me with the rear wheel as he sped off downhill. I was afraid he would take a tumble but fortunately he excellently handled the bumps and holes in the uneven gravel secondary road.

I shrugged off the miss encounter as something ordinary, tossing in my head several theories why I received the snub.

When I reached home an hour later, he stood by my gate with another godson, my frequent visitor. They were in an animated conversation, hands motioning in the air as if their subject involved flying.

“Care to share with me the gossip?” I interrupted, opening the imaginary gate.

They laughed at my antic, accustomed to the way I interact with them.

Ninong, last night I saw an aswang outside our house!”

As curious as I was with the startling news, I calmly toned down my reaction, not contradicting him directly. I was most certain that his claim of seeing the folkloric local vampire was just a figment of his imagination.

“Did you not see me earlier?” I asked, diverting their attention toward reality.

“I was afraid so I did not look. Father told me to stop at nothing lest I could be snatched by the aswang.”

“Can you describe to me what you saw?” I asked, accepting his alibi.

“It was black as night, tall as a tree and silent as a mouse.”

“I saw something like it at home, too.”

My frequent visitor would not be defeated. He would match the story to stay in the forefront.

“I hate to tell you this but what you saw was your shadow. Look!” I pointed to them their afternoon black cast on the ground.

“But that’s at the back,” he reasoned out. “What I saw was in front.”

The lack of simple observation skill and the strategy of casting fear to a young mind created such a condition. Parents do not want their children wandering around at night so the tale was told.

“If you do not believe me, go out at night along with your father or mother, check out what I told you.”

Unimpressed, they politely waved me their goodbyes, probably thinking I was born a skeptic. Not true, of course.

Early this morning, my frequent visitor passed by on the way to school. He grinned to the max.

“You’re right, Ninong,” he reported. “I saw it.”

“I told you so.”

“But, there is an aswang,” he countered.

“Why are you so sure?” I asked.

“I heard mother calling father aswang last night after our lights went out.”

I said nothing further. Sometimes children misinterpret words they were not old enough to understand.

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Crow

Being young during the 80s was unbelievable!

Look back and discover what we had back then.

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