Before leaving for Davao to climb the White Peak and Mt. Hamiguitan, I bought 9 titles from Ateneo de Davao University Press. Lately, my wife and I had been interested about Mindanao publications and one of the problems they have is the poor distribution of their books. So, we wanted to try to help.
We started our post climb celebration after climbing Mt. Pandadagsaan or The White Peak Mountain and Unesco Heritage Site and Park, Mt. Hamiguitan by drinking Stanley’s three liter beer around 7 am because Long and Zaldy were leaving for Manila at 2 pm. I was also leaving at 9 am for my appointment with the Director of the Ateneo de Davao Press, Dr. Macario D. Tiu aka Doc Mac. A friend, Karlo David, a local historian from Kidapawan who is based in Davao was to meet me in Ateneo de Davao then we would have lunch together.
The first thing I instructed my taxi driver was to bring me to a BPI atm machine. Which he did. Then, I remember, I have 5 copies of Kontra Prosa and 5 copies of Dungol to be delivered to Doc Mac which I forgot to bring. We had to go back to the house.
By the time I arrived in Ateneo de Davao, Karlo was waiting for me in Claveria Gate. I instructed my driver to drop me off Ateneo’s Claveria gate. The moment, I entered the gate, the plastic bag with which I carried the ten books was confiscated by the guard. No plastic policy inside the school although I may get the plastic bag when I leave. So, I gave the guard my plastic bag and held copies of the books by hand.
Karlo brought me to Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural Dialogue and introduced me to Ms. Perpevina C. Tio, the director. I emailed her before I left for Mindanao about the books we can help her distribute in Manila. But I received no answer. When I asked her if she remembers any email from me, she couldn’t remember receiving one. Later, when I mentioned my wife’s name, Rebecca T. Añonuevo, she suddenly remembered. She said she was going to answer that email but she was so busy recently that she had no time to answer it. But since I was there, she gave me five copies of Sikamin Lumad Bagong Panitikan ng Katutubong Mindanaw.
We took a selfie. Karlo and I then proceeded to Dr. Macario Tiu aka Doc Mac’s office on the 8th floor. His office was still closed. So, we sat on the couch and had a little chitchat. I learned that Karlo’s work also involves orienting the guides of Mt. Apo about the mountain and the legends and superstitions that abound in that mountain.
I climbed Mt. Apo November last year. It was were I and my four batchmates: Abbie, Aldrin, Chi, and Dolfo were inducted as members of the Metropolitan Mountaineering Society (MMS). Of course, I was interested about what he was orienting the guides because we did not undergo such orientation when we climbed it November 2018.
For one, he said, the diwata of Mt. Apo abhors noise. If you climb the mountain, be sure to moderate your voices. It’s the same rule for almost all mountains. Some for practical reasons, because the natives who live nearby are not used to loud noise. What else, I asked him.
When you get lost in the mountain, a black dog or a white deer will appear on the trail. It’s some sort of guardian angel that will bring you to the right direction. So, when you get lost, follow the animals.
It’s a good thing we were not lost in Mt. Apo. We enjoyed Lake Venado although the cold temparature there was unbearable for us. We also enjoyed the old lake after the summit. And most of all, we enjoyed the site and the trek through Mt. Apo’s boulders. White rocks as far as your eyes can see only interrupted by the sulfur color yellow.
After a while Doc Mac arrived and I introduced myself. Karlo also introduced me. They seemed to know each other. According to Karlo, they would often talk about local history. Doc Mac’s research always gives him the lead to his own research. We had a selfie and then we left with the two boxes of books I bought.
Karlo carried the larger box, while I carried the smaller box. He asked me if I had any food allergy. I have none. He asked me if it was ok if we eat at a Karenderia. I forgot to tell him we eat anywhere. If there was no food we cook it ourselves. We are mountaineers.
So, we exited Claveria gate to get my ID, rode a taxi. Karlo instructed the driver to bring us to Boulevard a few steps from Luz Kinilaw. Karlo brought me to Antimovina. According to Karlo, Antimovina serves Maranao food. I ordered Bakasi, Cebuano for eel. He also ordered the same food. Bakasi was cooked with coconut oil, turmeric, and spices. The lady served us two cups of rice each. At the back of my mind, I did not order two cups of rice. But I kept silent. I ordered a liter of Pepsi. Then, Karlo took a small container on top of the glass where the food for sale were displayed. He told me the contents of that container is called Palapa. I later learned that Bakasi was also cooked with Palapa. I should try it, Karlo said. So, I tried palapa. It looked like garlic skin. But unlike the garlic skin, this one is edible and easy to chew. A salty taste and a little hot. The garlic skin-looking was Sakurab, a scallion indigenous to Mindanao. But I liked the taste. He suggested I ordered another bottle to bring to my wife. Rebecca recommended Karlo for a short story festival in Thailand or something. He said, palapa is in his story so, Rebecca should taste it. So, I bought a bottle for a hundred pesos.
Contrary to the Constitution that mandates Filipino and English as a National language, Karlo advocates for no specific Philippine Language as a National Language. By stating that Filipino is the National Language, you relegate other Philippine Languages as inferior to the National Language, he said. He further added that, at first he believed in Tagalog being developed into Filipino. But later, he realized, there is no difference between Tagalog and Filipino. Filipino is a farce because it’s Tagalog anyway. Does English lost its being english by borrowing 75% of its vocabulary from Latin, he asks. The same thing with Filipino as Tagalog. The Constitution says that it must be enriched by other languages from the regions. But does Tagalog lost its being Tagalog by borrowing words from languages from all through out the Philippines.
He had a point there.
So, I asked him, how do we understand each other if we don’t have a unifying language, a national language, where we can understand each other. Simple, he said, we shall not have any national language. When a Tausog speaks to an Ilongo from Marbel, they will understand each other using bisaya. A Tausug from Zamboanga and a Manobo from Davao will talk in Cebuano, or a Blaan from Marbel and a Karay-a from Antique will probably talk in Hiligaynon.
He said every place has a unique linguistic realities that language policies should be devolved. There are places that use only a language or two, there are places also where the language reaches to a dozen, and they have different language dynamics. What should happen, he continued is, every language studies center should network to exchange data and all. So, there must be a necessity for every Filipino to learn at least two languages; the mother tongue and another language. In multi lingual places, even more. Multilingualism as the norm except for Tagalogs, who only get to learn Tagalog and English. And everyone should learn the existing and living writing system because there are very few left and it’s easy to learn a writing system.
The point is, he continued, all Philippine languages are of national value, and there are actually many localized lingua franca across the archipelago.
I was distracted by his bag he placed behind him and never minded it. So I interrupted him and asked what I already know, if it was his bag. Yes, he said. Why do you leave your bag just like that? It might get snatched. It doesn’t happen in Davao or in Mindanao he said. You can even reserve a table in restaurants or coffee shops by leaving your cellphone or your laptop on the table. Then he told the stories of his high school classmates who went to Manila for college. After a week all were traumatized because they lost either a wallet, a cellphone or a laptop in Manila.
When I biked from Pasig to Mindanao for my dystonia awareness ride last June 30 to July 10, 2018, I also experienced this kind of security. Wherever I go, I always use a lock for my bike. When I arrived in Surigao, the guard said, I did not have to do it since no one would take my bike. And it’s all the same all through out Mindanao. I don’t have to worry because my bike would not be stollen.
It was my first time to hear this kind of idea about no national language. So I went back to that topic. But I couldn’t really concentrate because I was worried about the boxes of books we had. I was trying to log in to my airline’s website so that I can buy extra luggage to no avail. The time went so fast that it was past 2 pm, and I had to leave. I had to take my bag from the gate where I hung it and fill it with my things in Stanley’s house.
I offered to pay for our lunch. I said to the server, we had 4 rice. Karlo objected. No, we only ate 3 rice. I was confused. We had 4 cups of rice, we should pay for 4. No, it doesn’t work that way in karenderias he said. You can always return the rice that you were not able to eat. It’s a strategy, according to Karlo. They will serve you so many rice, and you will eat as much as you can since it’s in front of you.
Karlo carried again the big box and hailed a taxi for me.
When I arrived in Stanley’s house, Dok Mai was putting my things inside my bag. How touching. How did this lady became so kind and caring. I took over and when I was done, I entered the house and asked Roy where were the drinks.
Roy said they were just taking a break. Then he narrated that they had no more money they asked for ten pesos each from our fellow climbers to buy beer. I had the money I said. Don’t worry, Roy said. We still have two liters of beer in the ref.
So, we took the liter from the ref and I drove the glass around.
We finished the two liters and added two more.
Dok Mai was so worried that we would not be allowed in the airport. We said it’s only past 3 pm. By the time of our boarding, we will have no more beer in our system.
There were still 8 of us left. Jess, Ninang Lea, Dok Thom, Mau, RC, Dani, Dok Mai, Roy and I. We could not be accommodated in one trip using Stanley’s car. So, at 5:30 pm, Stanley brought the ladies with Dok Thom and Jess to the airport. While the four of us, RC, Mau, and Roy remained. It was getting late and I was getting hungry. Stanley cooked soup with mussels, shrimp, and lapu-lapu for lunch. He put ginger and lemon grass. Roy said he did not eat all the mussels but left around 4 or five out of maybe 15.
There were still shrimps and soup when I arrived. And a lechon manok. So, I ate rice with Stanley’s soup, and then the lechon manok. I was joined by Roy and Mau. RC was busy talking to stanley’s beautiful niece and her friend. So we left him on his own. When Stanley arrived, we were finishing.
When we arrived in the aiport, Dok Mai was waiting for us after the first x-ray machine. Dok Thom and Ninang Lea were on the chair by the side. They had all checked in except Dok Mail who I instructed to wait for us just in case we would have excess baggage.