Thank God, it is Christmas time. Almost every body seems to be wearing a smile, and is excited. Gift buying and gift wrapping are almost done. Tickets to fly back home are ready.
Christmas is indeed my favorite season because the weather is cold and, as I said, almost every body seems to be happy.
I’ll be flying home to my beloved town, Pilar, to see my mother, my brothers and sisters, cousins and relatives. I will also be visiting a waterfalls to fulfill a promise in overview to write about the natural wonders of my town. I will do my best to also know more so that I can also write about Pilar caves when I return, or even while I am there.
There is no conventional cable tv connection yet in Pilar because, I heard, a mayor was asking for a 20% share of the income from the cable company, as a condition for the approval of the permit to operate. Of course I could not validate this. There is also no telephone line. It’s a good thing cell phones have arrived.
I am saying this because since there is no telephone nor cable tv, naturally there is also no internet in Pilar. I might as well use this as an excuse not to fulfill my promise, although a person close to me swore to buy a broadband kit before we fly to the province.
From the airport in Capiz, we will be haggling with tricycle drivers to bring us to the van terminal somewhere near my beloved alma mater, St. Pius X Seminary. In the terminal, we will be crammed in a dilapidated van; and in Pilar, we will be greeted by my brothers and sisters, a sister in law, a nephew, and of course a mother. Over us would be a leaking roof on, I guess, a five decade house. It’s a larger house. About thrice the size of our house in Pasig. There, the lawn is also larger. The trees taller and of course more than I could see here in Manila. Some of the names I have already forgotten.
The snorting pigs would be heard from the kitchen with blue walls. We stay away from the blue walls because a brother made a mistake in the kind of paint. You lean on our blue kitchen wall and the paint remains with you.
We have a pair of goose, a turkey, some native chicken, and ducks. The ducks I am not very sure. When I was small, when my father was always in the hospital about two years before his death, I was harvesting more than a dozen duck eggs every morning. This eggs we sell for two pesos, then two-fifty pesos to our neighbors.
If we still have ducks, I do not think they are laying as many eggs as before. Since they do not lay eggs, maybe the ducks will be good for patotin this Christmas.
Without the duck eggs to sell, my mother thought about selling ice. So, there she is at home selling ice, aside from her other daily activities like going hearing mass. It’s a good thing our local BIR does not assess her taxes. If this happens, there is professor and law student, BJ, to defend her.
According to my mother, she can pay our electric bill with the earnings from ice. If Torno America did not increase the height of the national road in front of us, I am pretty sure my mother could pay all her expenses with earnings from the ice. Torno America, the construction group that came to the Philippines to construct better roads and bridges as America’s gift to the Philippines, dumped so much gravel and sand before asphalting the road that it rose to about a story high only the second floor of our ancient house could be seen from the street level.
I would like to eat boiled sea shells, tinola na gisaw, and laswa. I also miss eating nilagpang (kinilaw). I miss nilagpang sa santol, in particular. Is there any santol at this time of the year?
I also miss eating nilagpang na lokus (squid). In Mindanao, by the seashore, we waited for fishermen to arrive. We bought lokus so fresh the color of their skin was constantly changing. We wash the lukos, sliced and placed them in a plate. Then we mixed minced luy-a (ginger), sibuyas (onion), asin (salt), langgay (vinegar), and kalamansi in a bowl. We dipped it in the bowl before eating the raw lokus The sweet taste of the lokus enhanced by the unique smell and hot taste of luy-a, and the aslum (sourness) of langgaw still lingers in my mouth.
We also did the same thing to jumping (live) pasayan (shrimps). We cut the head, dip the wiggling half-body of the half-alive and headless shrimp in the bowl, and there it goes in the mouth, down to the throat, esophagus, stomach, etc.
On other things, I remember Erap and Gibo.
Erap para sa mahirap. Erap babalik na. Erap my eksperiensiya kaya dito ka na, says his political ads on tv.
I like Erap. I have felt this way towards Erap only after the debate in UST sponsored by ABS-CBN. Erap is one grateful guy. He said, he does not know how to repay the mahihirap (poor), Erap is Erap because of the mahihirap. Mabubuhay, mamamatay si Erap hinding-hindi na siya makakabayad sa utang na loob niya sa mga mahihirap who stood by him from even while he was an actor, mayor, senador, vice president, and finally president. He said it with so much conviction if he were acting he deserves another best actor award. Erap is an example and a model of a grateful person that I would like to become.
Other than Erap is Gibo. Asked why he is still loyal to Tita Glo, such that he has never criticized her, Gibo said, something like: to criticize the President is the most ungrateful and unFilipino thing that he could do to someone who had given him a break by assigning him in her cabinet as the secretary of defense, and while as the secretary of defense, who has never interfered, instead supported all his projects.
Gibo impressed me the way he answered the questions fielded by the local government officials, and the way he answers questions in general. So matter of factly, and so practical. He has charisma, he speaks and also listens well. He has a broad outlook and displays a deep understanding of the wells and the ills of my country. He makes his fellow lawyers, of course me included, very proud. Gibo is also a model not just of a grateful person, but also of an intelligent one, that I would like to become.
This display of gratitude I have not seen from the Filipino CNN Hero of the year, Efren Penaflorida. He took the award, delivered his sermons, and did to remember to thank the 2.7 million who actually made him the CNN Hero of the year, by voting for him on line. He had never said thank you to ABS-CBN who aired an add to rally support for him. He had never said thank you to his voters in any speeches when he was back in the country. Instead, he goes around and receive gifts and accolades like he had become the CNN Hero of the year by his own merits alone.
So, the CNN Hero or the year is not my hero. He could become my hero after he learns from the example of Erap and Gibo.