October’s Symphony and Shadows


Periodical rains in highland Cordillera are almost fizzling out; the enticing vegetable gardens that ensure upland vegetables land on tables of many kailyans are, assuming every hour, a more verdant and lively appearance.

Fervent rays of the sun fall upon Cordillera’s moist earth, and the month of October seems ready to leap alive out of the ground. Everything confirms the refreshing influence of the season.

Ordinary folks like us who are content on ordinary wishes in ordinary ways, and who can spot beauty from the ordinary, can trace new vegetation bursting into green life.

So it’s not so extraordinary to realize that Mother Nature has awakened October from sleep. Opening the month’s eyes in the shape of numerable buds and flowers and preparing for a joyous change.

And October’s gypsy winds nestle in Cordillera’s imposing mountains and its Benguet pine trees, while prowling our urban and rural communities in invisible treads like unseen phantoms.

It’s October when you spot wild sunflowers growing along   roads and trails in Benguet, Baguio, and elsewhere in Cordillera, beginning to bud, readying themselves to explode in flowers, each a sunflower a soul of its own.

Yep, cheerful readers! Take them for granted we, hardly glancing their way. But on hind sight, not every region in the country can boast of wild sunflowers swinging by the countryside as October creeps in.

Our wild sunflower is never jealous, doesn’t think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms. Unlike members of the fairer sex, who believes more often, she’s more beautiful than the other girl next door.

For those politically minded, October’s the time they believe they should be voted into office, and announcing to all and sundry their intent to be political candidates for the Philippine coming general or mid-term election.

On second thought about this topic, Jubal Lungkawis, senior citizen from Cordillera, has his thought to share, saying last Sunday, “Am-mom, lakay Bony, we have laws stopping quack doctors. But none stopping quack politicians.”

“Now, a quack doctor is bad enough, and dangerous enough. Gracious knows! But a quack politician? Heaven knows that’s baddest enough!” Lungkawis exclaimed.

Ha! Lungkawis having brought out issue of running as candidate for election, this daily laborer is forced to ponder that would-be-candidates, having divulged their intention this October, may well posit their speeches to the people, generally this way:

“Fellow citizens, fellow kailyans: words are inadequate to express the gratification I feel in addressing so numerous and respectable a body of fellow kailyans.”

“Born among you, and knowing your feelings as I do, your incorruptibility and noble independence of spirit, I feel highly flattered by the requisition calling upon me to come forward as a candidate for the distinguished honor of representing you.”

“Now, my friends, my kailyans, nanang ko, tatang ko, apong ko, kabsat ko, kasinsin ko, gagayyem ko amin ida, ti botos yu tuy dumanon a panagbobotos will make our country proud.”

“Ket nu ikur-it yu ti nagan ko idiay balota nu umay a panagboboto, garantisado nga diay inaramid yu ket pangabak tayo amin.”

Then the candidate would switch probably to English by trying to woo the votes of the women, saying, “I have received promises from the lips of the ladies – than whom are fairer in the whole world –  our mother, our lovely ladies; I confidently rely upon their majority of votes.”

Gassem dat! Then the candidate would probably end his/her speech by saying, “Kakailyan, I will no longer detain you by a detail of what I intend to do in furtherance of your wishes, assuring you that mine are limited to the proud distinction of serving you, and most amply shall I be repaid in the success of my endeavors to promote your welfare and protect your interest.” Etcetera, etcetera.

Lungkawis, who saw the mischievousness in Ah’s face, declared, “Anya manen ti pan-panunutem nga kabagtitan para dagiti kandidato?”

If you believe in Zodiac signs, which many apparently do, those born October are touted as being bad tempered, don’t care what others think, selfish, day dreamers, loves to take things at the center or want to be the center of attention, seldom helps unless asked and are very opinionated.

Uhuh? Shadows of October, if you believe Zodiac signs. But despair not, those born in October.  For even in shadows, there’s a light shining somewhere, in an October symphony.

For Zodiac also says, those born on October are clairvoyant, decisive, treat friends importantly, always making friends, attractive and suave, loves to love, sympathetic, don’t lie or pretend, with inner and physical beauty and loves to travel, among other things.

So you’d conclude, “Weirdo talaga etong Ah Kong, hindi naniniwala sa Zodiac sign.”

Ay aqui! When October’s chilling winds creep to the bones like ghost in the dead of night, we find out we’re all a little weird.  And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and have two mutually satisfying weirdness.

This daily laborer, who couldn’t even pay wages of carpenters working for him, passed by Shilan, La Trinidad, last week and remembered a friend, Benson Simsim, in his late 50’s staying there. So he went over to their house.

Now, Benson was born October. As both sat reminiscing of old times, the laborer remembered a story told by grandparents of Benson that when Benson had been born, he was nearly the death of his mother.

Why? As a baby, Benson always clawed his mama while in her arms. He had one of his little fists twisted in his mother’s hair till his mama shrieked.

Nevertheless, Benson’s mama claimed before, “Shades of October, Benson may be weird, but he was the loveliest and sweetest creature the sun ever shined upon.”

October also marks the fourth quarter of the year when one starts determining early if you have spent money judiciously. Some term it preparation for fourth quarter reports. Or you can say it’s the time when money talks.

As for this daily laborer, he’s not really sure because whatever money he has, the money always says goodbye to him. Where it goes, he does not have an inkling.

And being forgetful every October where his money goes, he has reached the age where his train of thought leaves the train station without him.

Well, friends, October is definitely ending, but much having happened, and still happening. In the Cordillera, for instance, if a wild youth tries to kiss a Cordileran girl he doesn’t even know, chances are, the girl would say, “Do that again and I will split your head with a binalsig (wood split from a wood block by an ax).”

It follows, too, that if a wild youth trying to make his impression this October by trying to steal kiss from a Cordilleran lass he doesn’t  know, chances are his October dreams will vaporize when the girl, says, “I guess it’s my turn now,” and gives the youth a ringing slap on the face.

Because in October, every day may not be good, but there is something good in everyday.