Ah Kong was conversing last Sunday noon with a farmer in a small cantina in barangay Nangalisan, Tuba, Benguet, about 13 kilometers from Baguio City, when a flash downpour suddenly commenced.
A group of youth passing by stopped and sought shelter in the cantina.
Not many minutes elapsed and they were followed by a housewife group, scampering into the cantina and shaking off the rain that caught them flat-footed. The youth group beamed at the housewives.
As the clouds took its own sweet time unloading its watery content, like taking your time is one means of enjoying life, one of the housewives slowly began to “ag-dayengdeng,” or ‘agtanabutob,” or ag-motmot,” or “ag-metmet” (gripe or grumble).
That housewife said, “Haissst! (a popular expression of women when they gripe) Anya met daytoy nga todo, di met la maum-uma, todo lang nga todo. Istorbo ti trabaho. Diay labadak, saan pay nagango. Saan ko pay marootan diay likod ti balay mi. Saanak pa yen makapaspasyar, uray la kuma idiay Burnham panggep la daytoy todo. . . etcetera, etcetera.”
Hearing that housewife, the other housewives began chattering their “dayengdeng,” or “tanabutob,” citing one after the other their perceived problems that rains supposedly unload on them.
A particular “tanabutob” expressed by one of the housewives in the cantina was, “Daytoy pay todo ti rason dagiti asawa tayo nu apay ag-inom da ti arak, ta nalammin kanu.
“Kasla a dagitoy duwa,” the housewife said, pointing to James and Ah, and continued, “Baka ti rason da James ken Ah ket ti todo isu ag-ininom da,” she, directed her chin at the bottle on the table between James and Ah.
“Haissst! Mamati ka dita a rason! Ken daytoy a todo dada-elen na nu maminsan ti bullalayaw ti ragsak!” the housewife wailed.
Hearing the housewives’ gripes, the clouds really smiled, this time opening wide their mouths and spouting more rain spears that looked like Cordilleran warriors dancing their war dance in the sky.
Ah foolishly asked himself silently if one really wants a bullalayaw (rainbow) arcing his/her life, then one gotta put up with the rain, since one doesn’t see a rainbow on a sunny day.
Casting his gaze at the rain, James Estowar 64, the farmer, suppressed a laugh that wanted to escape from his mouth, upon hearing the dayengdeng of the housewives. Instead, he just shook his head in wonder, looked once more at the rain then raised his glass in silent salute to the sky.
Then James swiveled his gaze and settled it on Ah, who stared back silently. James’s weather-beaten face said all what he would have orally expounded to Ah, were the two without company.
James face summarized it thus: we, either Cordillerans or lowlanders, in fact, majority of Filipinos simply love to gripe or grumble.
But James couldn’t utter what he wanted to, in presence of the housewives, leery of tangling in a debate with a group of women (nine of them) who would easily gang up on him and claw him with sharp griping tongues.
He made a covert sign to Ah, offering Ah opportunity to engage the housewives in a free-for-all debate regarding James conviction that “majority of us simply love to grumble.”
Ah shook his head, turned down the offer. Long ago, he adopted a motto: never enter into an argument with the fairer sex. You do, you’re a loser, a goner. As the Germans say, “kaput,” or finished, dead.
From lessons past, Ah knew too well that the tongue, one the softest part of the human body, can easily break a bone or can even slay without drawing blood.
The lessons? Ah, who only reached Grade 1, experienced long time ago when one of his high school friends invited Ah to attend a class in Chemistry for one day.
In that Chemistry class, Ah found out about the physical and chemical properties of a woman and a woman’s tongue.
First, the mass of a woman when first found by man or suitor, is very light, but a woman’s mass tends to get heavier as years progress.
As to physical properties of a woman: boils at any time, can freeze at any time or melts if treated with the word spelled l-o-v-e. But most bitter when manhandled.
As to chemical properties of a woman: very reactive, highly unstable, most highly attracted to possess strong affinity to elements like gold, silver, diamonds, pearls, Platinum, credit cards, cheque books and money.
Occurrence of women; they are mostly found in front of a mirror or in a beauty parlor; they are highly irritable when moved with in-laws. They have mixed reactions when seated with parents.
Last, woman is most harmful to a husband when she spots an element very similar to herself and trying to cozy up to the husband.
Those lessons Ah learned, reason he refuses never to enter in an argument with women.
Just the same, Ah concentrated on James face and understood what James would have wanted conveyed.
James face was saying, “Cordillerans, lowlanders and include majority of Filipinos, are, without dispute, a grumbling people, happily or unhappily.”
We are as fond of a grumble or gripe as we are as fond of lechon, “pinicpikan,” “pried chiken,” adobo or pinakbet.
As these foods are indigenous products of the soil, and so is ag-dayengdeng an indigenous characteristics of the people, eh?
James, who swears he is both Cordilleran and lowlander and never in the middle, intimated in his look that your true Cordilleran or lowlander is a very different sort of animal.
Not that Cordillerans or lowlanders are discounted people. No! No! No! Nothing of the sort.
Not that our griping is ill-conditioned. It’s merely our nature, James face seemed to say.
James countenance said grumbling is merely one among our prime luxuries, that we can’t be perfectly satisfied unless we indulge in one of our favorite inclination.
James winking at Ah – while the housewives were still at it, griping – in the cantina was saying all along that every evil has a bright side and the bright side of grumbling is you grumble all you want, and you become an expert on it.
Ah nodded in accord with James. For Ah bore in mind that the more we grumble, the more comfortable we are. And there is that intensity of pleasure we derive that excites a yearning in us to grumble more. No?
Then there are those who grumble or gripe with such a refinement that even the most experienced person on the art of swearing can be put to shame.
According to the message of James face as interpreted by Ah, any will grumble excessively. Let’s say a mortal was nearly drowned by typhoon but was saved. In having been saved he/she is meek and humble as a mortal can be.
But, how a mortal will grumble and sulk if such mortal was caught in a peter-patter of drizzle and the hair got wet or the face make-up erased.
At the workplace, for example, when we are promoted to a higher position, still we grumble for another step. When we get that another step, we grumble all the more for another higher step.
And when we are settled down to the best in the nature of things, gripe we, at the nature of things for not affording us a better one.
As Ah switched his gaze from James face to the bottle in front of them, he thought three times out of ten, a man grumbles out of habit and is a style of expression while ten times out of ten, a woman gripes because griping being a national pastime, it should be practiced to the maximum.
Ah suspects that there’s little griping among our forefathers. It’s only now. The more civilized we get, the more we gripe for what we haven’t obtained. It follows that civilization and ag-dayengdeng are two excellent dance partners in the age of modernity.
And the weather is, op kors naman, an everlasting topic for us, gripers. Such that Mama Nature gave it to us to encourage our national pastime. Like, if we can’t find dark clouds, we may as well grumble about its whiteness.
Rains were fizzling out when the housewives noticed James and Ah eyeing each other, seemingly in one thought.
One of the housewives yelled, “Hoy! Dakayo nga duwa nga lakay dita, anya panpanonoten yu ta apay ag-is-isem kayo a kasla bagtit?”
At the two men, the youth group looked at, understood their thoughts too well, laughed heartily at them then they scampered away, with never a dayengdeng following in their footsteps, as the tree leaves of June griped for more rain that have vanished from sight.