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.

Thwarted

Almost all my gripes were swept under the rug when the juice was restored..

Still, last night’s momentum halted to a screech, like a high-speed racer suddenly braking, forced to slow down because darkness impeded a safe journey.

Where were they? Ideas that I mulled about never re-materialized in my head. They were most probably lost in the dream world, smothered by a nightmare of reality.

Tell you what, I feel like I suffered amnesia since I published my last post hours ago. I seemed to forget what I wanted to say today. All right, I did forget.

Even the reliable YouTube fillers, my regular standby posts, were nowhere to be found. I could not do wrong for some days. Today, I had eggs all over my face.

Come to think of it, I am writing this just to let you know how helpless I am right now. It’s like thinking in circles. I could imagine myself like a cat chasing its own tail, a zany spectacle for an owner to watch of his/her pet. I feel like a pet, your pet.

I want to get out of the loop. I fell asleep a moment ago listening to the crooning BeeGees in the background. When I woke up, the screen was black, automatically sent to sleep mode like my brain.

I was awake earlier, tried to read blogs to recover my bearings, but to no avail. I dozed off once more, my fingers rested on the keyboard, four of them occupying the letters, F, U, C, and .

Wakey, wakey! Come on eyes! Do yourselves a favor and open up wide.

Anyway, a great night to everyone, in case I was carted off to bed. If you do not hear from me from this moment on, I am a goner. 😀

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Dandy

I almost forgot.

Earlier, at the same event, I overheard an out-of-town visitor complaining about his allergies concerning certain foods, particularly those coming from the sea. He was too vocal to tell everyone that his taste buds were choosy to the point he would vomit when given food that disagreed with his stomach.

When he first arrived, people thought he was a big shot. Later, we found out that he was not even wealthy nor overly educated. Pretentious was the word for him. I could sense he was acting the part to get the notice he did not really deserve. Such creatures appear once in a while, more so in village celebrations where many folks were easily duped by dramatic ostentation.I was sure he would be caught in his own lie when the time came.

Lunch was over but a late relative came over with big plateful of spring rolls. They were still warm when served in the middle of the table.

Mr. VIP did not wait for any invitation as he picked first, ready to munch what to him looked like French fries. Before we could eat our first, he had already devoured four.

“If you want to excuse yourself to go outside, feel free to do so.”

He was perplexed why I singled him out.

“I am fine,” he remarked, pretending not to have heard my advice. “These are delicious.”

I stood up, approached him and whispered, “Can I talk to you outside?”

He probably thought I would reprimand him for eating too much, though I did consider the same. But I had to point to him a detail he forgot to take into account.

“You said you are allergic to seafood.”

“Absolutely! I can’t stand the taste.”

“So why are you eating squid?”

At that instant I was ready for his outburst, of not being informed of the ingredient that could trigger his allergy, then belatedly throwing up in front of me to complete the farce.

To my surprise he did nothing of those scenarios I was afraid of: he simply smiled, caught of his charade but never verbally admitting I uncovered his scam.

“I’ll be on my way,” he said politely, eager to ease his way out from the embarrassing situation he dug himself into.

“Where are you going?” I asked automatically.

“It’s early in the afternoon. I can still make several rounds.”

“I suppose you’ll give them the same treatment like the stunt you pulled here.”

He did not need the scolding but I was offended by his impertinence.

“I am not a bad guy,” he reasoned. “Just a bit of fun, man!”

“I’ll let you off this time,” I conceded. “Next time, please come as you are. We are simple folks but we’re not naive.”

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Dreamy

Some things intrigue us no end.

Keep looking for answers. Everywhere.

Goodnight to all.

Blessings.

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Importance

Good afternoon to you all!

Just got back from the town center, searching for a permanent substitute for my departed cellular phone. I could have it repaired but the cost could be more or less the same value as a new phone.

Living in a Third World country has its advantages sometimes, particularly when it comes to buying electronic devices. Often the dumping ground of old technologies, there is a greater chance to purchase devices that are considered older versions of those found in industrialized countries.

A farmer like me does not need a touch-screen phone, much to my regret when I followed my fancy when I earlier bought the last one. I need a bare-bones device: call and text features would suffice.

I hunted, so to speak, roaming, window shopping from one store to the next. I felt like the prince in Cinderella, looking for the other glass slipper.

After more than two hours, I narrowed down my choices to two. Both showed almost identical features, the same price, different colors. But it turned out that one has built-in flashlight, so that tipped the balance somewhat. (You might have guessed correctly why it was the deciding factor.)

You won’t probably believe it but it’s a brand new ten-dollar phone. (Lower those eyebrows, please.) My new companion could be cheap but more importantly, it addresses all my communication needs.

When I re-inserted the SIM, exactly twenty four hours since I removed it from the drowned one, the alert tone for messages sounded repeatedly. Incoming texts that failed to come through lined up in the Inbox, almost a hundred or so.

Frankly, I am not an important person but people I know seemed to have missed me when I did not reply to their messages. That’s some kind of a comfort actually: there are still people who are convinced that I do matter.

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Powerless

When you are in a relationship, like almost 24/7, parting is not so easy. There’s got to be a compelling reason to sever the bond, move on.

It was very unfortunate that this afternoon I found myself in a similar situation. Frankly, I was shocked to learn I was entirely to blame for the end.

I kept searching at first, then the realization dawned on me, I was left alone.

I traced my steps back to the house, wanting to believe that it was only my hunch, that what I suspected was a figment of my imagination.

Crossing a rice farm, I could feel the plants commiserating with my sadness: they probably knew why I walked the narrow paddies’ division. With bowed head, I finally accepted it was my fault.

Then, in an instant, my eyes confirmed what I feared. I almost shouted out loud to proclaim my regret for my unforgivable carelessness.

I knelt down, hoping everything would be okay, that for some miracle, I could salvage the situation, to bring back the hands of time.

Too late! Death was an undeniable conclusion, drowning the cause of my sorrow.

Goodbye, friend! You have been a loyal ally, a constant companion, the gatekeeper to the world of local telecommunications. I hate to see you go.

Tomorrow, another relationship has to be found. I would absolutely choose the cheapest kind so that when the time comes I would not feel too (financially) devastated during the next farewell.

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Lesson

Children interpret adults’ actions in various ways.

Often, they point out our mistakes in a subtle way.

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Incorrect

In preparation for the effects of the super storm in our locality, even if we are further away from its path of destruction, we still made ready food provisions if and when stocks become scarce. If experience should be taken into account, some unscrupulous traders hoard supplies to jack up prices.

Riding a passenger jeepney to the town center, a mother and her two children sat on the aisle across me. When I smiled at them, she freely smiled back. On the contrary, her children looked serious: I, being a stranger, was not considered familiar to earn their casual approval.

I learned to accept such cold treatments, especially from those who could not understand what I was saying. The language barrier was too constant a problem here that I had to learn several regional dialects to successfully blend in.

Surely, the children had no inkling that I understood them when they began to argue about me. Like I used to do, I wore my neutral face and pretended I was not paying attention at all.

“He’s dark,” the girl mumbled in Ilongo (a Visayan dialect). “Maybe he’s a foreigner.”

“If he’s a foreigner, why ride a jeep?” the boy, older and smarter, corrected her impression. “He could be a half-blood.”

“What is that?” she asked, nudging her mother who was probably half asleep during the ride.

“Sssh! You’d wake her up!” he admonished. “A half-blood is like a vampire.”

Frankly, I wanted to show them my fangs just for the heck of it. I controlled the urge to burst out laughing.

“No way!” she said. “How come he is awake in the morning. They said vampires are awake only at night.

“That’s why he is a half-blood,” he explained, scratching his head when he himself could not believe his logic. “Don’t look at him straight. He might give you a spell.”

How long could I take it was a matter of decision. I could simply talk in their dialect and prove once and for all I was as human as they were. But then, the mischievous side of me won. In a way, I would like to hear the conclusion of their argument.

“Only witches could put a spell on someone,” she eyed her brother with suspicion,

“Don’t you get it? A half-blood could do that too. He could fly if he wants to.”

“Why ride a jeepney? she asked, returning to him his earlier query. “Why spend money on fare?”

I was already smiling. Their discussion was going nowhere.

“Sorry for that.” the mother remarked, pulling the children closer to her. “Kids!”

“It’s all right,” I replied in Tagalog. “They have great imagination.”

“Oh, they’re not imagining things,” she said. “In our place, we experience a lot of unexplained phenomena.”

“I am talking about me, how they see me right now.”

She stared at me, inspecting my features as if her words would be enough to calm her children.

“So, what’s the verdict?” I asked.

She whispered to each of them, their eyes widening with surprise.

I had no idea what she told them but when they alighted at our last stop, they hastily walked away from me as if I was diseased.

“Don’t mind them,” the driver spoke behind my back. “They’re always afraid of handsome men.”

Well, he was probably telling the truth. 😀

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Barter

The midday sun provided me with favorable heat . In a few hours, the newly-washed clothes would easily dry up.

I was resting under a low mango tree when a group of indigenous people passed by the road. Naturally, I supposed that the quartet I hosted earlier had already spread the news where they could receive gifts. It was not surprising at all.

However, such worry was probably incorrect because I noticed the group lugging sacks: they looked heavy as each bearer walked with much strain. Perhaps, they were no carolers at all.

“Like some yams, young man?” an older woman called out to me from outside the fence.

When I heard the words ‘young man’ I was a bit surprised, no, more or less confused. Either she had eye problems or she was simply being friendly. But since I liked the sound of her offer, I immediately stood up and approached her group.

They stopped and unburden themselves with their load. Under my ten-year-old Acacia tree, whose shade covered a wide area including part of the road, we sat down and prepared to haggle with the price.

“How much?” I asked while they opened the sacks to show me the produce.

“Exchange,” she grinned, unashamed to show her set of teeth missing the front section. “Rice. Anything, No cash.”

So, she wanted to do business the old-fashioned way. It could be tricky somehow because they were more knowledgeable about the system than me, who was more accustomed to cash deals.

“I do not have a scale. How could we estimate the weight?”

For a while, we were stumped. A kilo of rice would fetch the same price as two kilos of yams.

She picked up a large rock by the side of the road and placed it inside a plastic bag.

“Here,” she showed me the hastily-made scale, composed of an approximately two-foot twig with a short finger-sized rope she tied at the middle.

Well, I should have thought of it first. Her inventiveness awed me.

I excused myself and went inside the house to get rice. Using another form of estimation, a used can of milk provided the solution. Filled to the brim, ten cans were believed to weigh more or less two and a half kilos.

When I came back, I saw her placed the rock in the bag at one end of the scale while at the other end, yams in another bag. Once level, she repeated the process. She set aside the two portions and took from me the bag of rice. Fortunately, the scale was near balanced, the bag of rice weighing a bit more than the rock.

To cover for the deficiency, she added three pieces of yams to the two portions.

“I think it is a fair exchange,” she said finally.

If I was not mistaken, she handed me almost five kilos of yams. Indeed, there was nothing fairer than that.

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Warning

Note: This is but a friendly reminder to citizens of developed nations.

By all means let us be kind to others and share some of what we could afford to give. What we call old clothes could be used by the less fortunate and what we call old toys could be played with by poor children.

However, sometimes other people with ill motives try to take advantage of our generosity, when what we think as our contribution to a laudable cause ends up as a second-hand commodity.

Using the reliable tactic of serenading our hearts by citing news of disasters in their countries of origin, these wily operators roam around collecting clothes, toys or anything of moderate value. Looking official, bringing along papers that purportedly state their legitimacy, they could convince you without raising any suspicion of their malpractice.

If you really want to help, give your donations to reputable organizations that genuinely assist the victims of disasters. You will be relieved that what you give will go to worthy recipients.

This is the season of giving, not the season of making money out of the kindness of people. Let us not help perpetuate the scheme by indirectly supporting those opportunists. With less commodity to send back home for sale, their illicit business will die a natural death.

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