Last Tuesday, around 2 PM, Conceptita Asipulo, early 30’s, (don’t ask a lady’s age, so we estimate), from the lowlands but has made Benguet her home (Let’s call her Tita for short; her name Conceptita is too long), Cecilia Antiwes, (Let’s also call her by her nickname, Celia), in her early 30’s, a highlander and two of their friends spotted a lowly bearded peon walking along the sidewalk besides the first gate of the sprawling Benguet State University (BSU).
The ladies hurried after the man. Catching up with him, Tita pulled one the peon’s unwashed ear and exclaimed, “Aha! Kunam sa ah! Natiliw mi met laeng sika, al-alya ka talaga. Narigat a kem-megen.
Celia giggled beautifully in glee and added, “ Hi-hi-hi! Al-alya dagiti kolumnista. Di bale ta sikat met ti column na. Makapa-ayat basaen ta makapa-isem ti isursurat na, uray kas-kasano.”
Blushing like a virgin, este, like a fool that he was, he addressed Tita and Celia: “Kumusta, apoh! Ayna, saan nagbaliw kinapintas yu!” The peon knew Tita and Celia for years and were his friends.
Turning his attention to Tita and Celia’s pals he didn’t know, he said, “Ni, uray dagiti kadwa yu nga di ko am-ammo, nagpintas da met la ket din!” Tita and Celia’s friends smiled at the peon who squirmed in discomfort for receiving from wonderfully, two beautiful women, smiles which are supposed to be reserved only for handsome guys.
Celia exclaimed, “Hoy, Ah Kong, al-la ka! Nagadu dagiti mang-hun-hunting kenyam. Dagiti ka-parishioners mu, dagiti politicians, dagidiay da dati a colleagues mu ti gobierno, dagiti mang-kayat agkandidato ti politico ita a panawen, dagiti dati a gagay-yem mu a saan mon nakit-kita, dagiti di mu am-ammu ngem kayat da maki am-ammu kenyam. Ayna, nagadu da, sika. Ket nu matiliw da ka, diak ammo laeng. Baka pungot –pungoten da sika, saplit-sapliten da ka ken pag-piesta and da dayta duwa a lapayag mu ti kalalapigos!”
Scratching his unkempt beard, the peon answered, “Wen, kayat ku kuma masabat amin isuda, ngem kasla ti kuna ti Americano, duty calls. Isu, adda tayu latta idiay sulsulinek nga agsapul ket di ku pay malagip agdigusen.”
Disbelieving the peon, Tita, instead clamped claw-like fingers on the peon’s arm and said, “Hoy, sumorot ka man ketdi ta i-libre mi sika iti merienda. Malagip ko banana bread ti kay-kayat mo. Alla, gumatang kami ti maysa loaf a banana bread ta ibusen tayo a meriendaen.”
Lamely, the peon tried to reason he was about to meet somebody/ talk with a person at BSU, but Celia pooh-poohed the peon’s reason, saying, “Kaman ka bau babae ay addu din tay-tayawtawen ay rason.”
Like a mother admonishing a child, Tita said with finality to the peon, “Entaku ketdi man-merienda.”
Unable to extricate himself from the four, he meekly followed them, as the women easily wended their way towards La Trinidad Public Market where there, the found a cozy bread and coffee shop.
Where there, as they drank coffee, tea and ate merienda, a topic about choice of a husband or wife started among the four when they saw a vehicle pass by, and emblazoned on the car were the words, “Just Married.”
It made the poor peon perk up as he listened and took all what the four women thought about choice of a spouse. Here, he relates the four women’s thoughts on this topic and on how he understood their conversation:
As believed by the ladies, as the fulfillment of contentment is an elevated way of any human, one is sometimes caught unaware at the inattention apparent to the most important concern in their lives – that’s the choice of a husband or wife, on which not only their welfare, but even their well-being, may depend.
Indeed, as the ladies argued among themselves, leaving the peon to merely listen, they deemed on choice of a spouse as if one is to judge from the sparse regard which is sometimes directed to an important life event, one is led to suppose then, that often, finding a partner in life is merely a trivial matter in which little reflection is requisite.
Why’d the ladies arrive at their conclusion? They were of the opinion that often, beauty and search of fortune or “kinabaknang diyay ma-asawa” were in themselves the only essentials to attainment of bliss of conjugal state.
They reflected on experiences of other people in the past of those who, in the passion of unreflecting youth, harbored such flighty visions, without considering requisites of a nobler kind, found themselves in irretrievable marriage ruin.
Melancholy histories have been heard and re-heard where manly virtue has been added to fortune and to grief; blooming loveliness sacrificed at the altar of greed for material gain.
Or unthinking youth, smitten by exterior charms alone – (like, Oh, my gosh, matayak kinagwapo na, or, nagpintas, kasla a Miss Universe), instead of the attracting virtues of modesty, discretion and sentiment – has become victim to uncharacteristic, if not plastic or misleading beauty or handsomeness.
However, the ladies admitted in their prattle that it should not misunderstood, however, that fortune and beauty/handsomeness in the search of wife or husband are of no estimation.
Abundance, of course, when added to good sense, fidelity, and kindness, can be affronted only by those devoid of ideas of whatever is grand and beautiful in nature. And abundance or at least fortune, in relation to search for a spouse, is absolutely a necessity.
Since, without it, the ladies presumed, it can affect, more often than not, peace and happiness in a conjugal union.
Eh, readers, the lowly peon heard from the ladies that, certainly, no prudent person ought to engage in search of, er, a wife or husband, without sufficiency on one side of the other discussed by them.
Because, the ladies added with finality, true love never forgets the gaiety of object; for when it stops to be regarded, then it’s not the generous tenderness of affectation, but the unthinking wildness of passion.
Suddenly, one of the friends of Tita and Celia, by the name of Fortuna, turned to the gloomy peon hearing all the chat of the women, and said, “Ah, have you ever fought with your wife?”
The query caught the peon by surprise. Before he could answer, Fortuna laughed and said, “Of course you did. For if you haven’t, then it’s no marriage at all, for there’s no marriage made by heaven.”
Then Fortuna, apparently a highlander, gazed good-humoredly at the peon and added,” You must also remember that in marriage fight, only one person is always right.”
“And who’s the one person who’s always wrong in a marriage fight, may I ask,” the peon told Fortuna.
“It’s the husband,” Fortuna answered and cackled in glee, to the extreme delight of her friends.
Then Tita pointed her finger at the peon and said, “If ever you and your husband friends ever think that we, the wives are crazy, then all of you are wrong.”
“Why?” the peon sputtered in surprise.
“Because you, the husbands ti nag desisyon nga asawaen yu dakami, so, isu dakayu ti agbagtit, saan a dakami,” Tita answered as the four fell into fits of laughter that got the attention of other patrons in the bread and coffee shop.
Then the fourth friend of Tita and Celia, by the name of Meela, said, “Nu mamingsan, mamati nak idiay kunada a dagiti asawa nga lalaki ket nakataktakrot da a pirme. Apay kunam?”
“Apay ngamin?” Fortuna asked Meela.
“Kastoy ni. Namingsan inbagak kenni lakay ko nga nu talaga met laeng nga ay-ayaten na siak ket ipuk-kaw na iti kaaruba ken iti sangkalubungan. Ammo yu ti inaramid na, imbes ipuk-kaw na iti kaaruba ken sangkalubungan, inyarasaas ne ketdin iti lapayag ko.”
I asked my husband, “Kunak ipuk-kaw mu iti sangkalubungan. Ammu yu kunan ni lakay ko?”
“What?” Tita asked Meela.
“Inyarasaas ko ta sika ti sangkalubungak, kunana ketdi ni lakay ko. Kitaen yu ti kinataktakrot dagiti lalakay tayo,” Meela answered.
Apparently knowing the four ladies were poking fun at husbands as butt of their jokes, the peon, without any husband-friend to rally back jokes with the ladies, hastily looked at his watch, murmured he needed to see somebody, rose from his seat and bade farewell as Tita shouted:
“Hoy, papanam, Ah Kong, saan pay nalpas ti istorya tayu. Ayna agpaysu kuna tayo, nagtakrot dagiti asawa tayo a lallaki, di pay nalpas tungtungan, agtataray dan,” to peals of hearty laughter from the lively women.