‘Pagteng ti Biag’

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Last Monday morning being clear and fine, giving Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region 1 fresh delight and joy, daily laborers and students set off to their destinations, many walking without hurry, after having been kept prisoners at home by inclement weather.

So it came to pass once upon a time last Monday, Ah Kong also walked without hurry, found his straying feet leading him to barangay Lubas, in La Trinidad, in a house midway near Ambiong barangay.

There, where he had a pow-wow with a men group engaged in cut-flower and vegetable cultivation in Ambiong.

As their warm talks drifted, the men told Ah, they know not why, yet there’s something cheery and pleasant to them in good old-fashioned rain fall.

Of course, sorry the men were, for those who weren’t able to do what was needed done whilst the ground was soaked.

They meant, not, to wish the rain to lie upon the face of the earth day after day and cause distress on any which follows upon want of work.

In August’s midst, the monsoon struck and created a bubble of problems for all, and set off a majority of our populace grumbling at the clouds.

Yep, folks, only shows we, Cordillerans and lowlanders alike truly enjoy the pleasures of grumbling, for we are, without dispute and debate, a grumbling people.

Discontented, we aren’t. Oh no, Sir, Ma’am, nothing of that sort. Grumbling is only one of our delicious luxuries.

For we, all, couldn’t be perfectly happy if we cannot indulge in our favorite pastime –  grumbling.

Know what? Every evil has a bright side. And the bright side of our evils is the opportunity to grumble.

It’s also said it’s the most well-fed person, grumbles most.

Hence, Ah maintains that the more civilized we get, the more we grumble for what we haven’t obtained.

Do ghosts grumble, too? Well, read on, my intelligent readers, and know. . .

Yet the men group that Ah talked associated in Ambiong, grumbled not, merely acceded to the rain gods, chorusing “Anya ngarud, nadadael ti mula, agmula tayo manen. Anos ken ga-get lang ta nayon ti parte ti biag dayta.”

Well, the men bantered, spoke, “All’s well that ends well, even as they rouse in the morning with the sun shining fair, as fair as can be, and discover some gray hairs in their combs after combing their hair – a most disagreeable thing.”

Also disagreeable, they said, of the flying twinges of “sakit dagiti tul-tulang ti bagi” whenever rain bring in the cold. “Parte ti biag nga panag-lakay ken panag-baket, “they chimed.

An omen, the men said, that presages none ever escapes the clutches of age that’s ever marching forward. “Ngem, adda latta namnama, uray man agtodo, ta kawes laeng ti lumakay wenno bumaket,” they jested among themselves.

“Basta ti ayat ti biag, saan la a kumulkulbet,” the men said in unison.

Very well said!   Since for us, hope sings in the sunny side of life we all ascend while hope will also sing another song as we descend the sunny side of life – to the ears of another generation.

One generation might pass away and another rises in its stead. New faces, new places, new callings and pursuits change.

And the men said to just take a look at La Trinidad and Baguio City. Old familiar parts of La Trinidad and Baguio that they were acquainted in their younger days have changed or passed away, like fabric of a vision that stand as monument to bygone years.

One of the men said to Ah that before, past governments would suffer for the grasses and wild sunflower to grow beside streets, to add color to life and for the birds and crickets to be safe.

Not anymore. Because the march of civilization towards the so-called “development.” Must go unimpeded. “Heck,” one of the men rationalized, “development doesn’t give a hang about birds, bees, the flowers and the trees. . .”

Just follows that bygone years show the count of white hairs and lines that crease anyone’s face, so said the men.

And in talking of “ears of a new generation, faces, new places, new callings, pursuits, familiar old places of La Trinidad and Baguio,” the men merrily intoned, “How our world has changed.”

It made Ah think there’s a melancholy pleasure in re-visiting scenes which we first saw in young hood, when youth had long been gone, and when life, which then stretched widely, and brightly before us, its pains and challenges yet unknown, and its pleasures only too vividly anticipated, is drawing, comparatively to a close.

In one voice, the men agreed that, “iti pagteng ti biag,” how the world, their world and our world, have changed.

Well now, are you fond of saying “How the world has changed,” or nagbaliw ti panawen?

Try being fond of saying such exclamation. Instead of being respected as the opinion of experience, it’s considered by young persons to be the querulous and complaining phrase of old age, only founded on the altered views of those who make use of it.

Maybe, when the young will grow old too, they will definitely utter these words so disagreeable to them during their young hood.

But to the men Ah talked with, it was part of life.

 

It was very engaging, having talked with the men on “pagteng ti biag,” who retained their dash of rural humor while living in the urban setting.

It was past 12 o’clock midnight when Ah said goodbye to them that Monday.

Now, when Ah went to see the men that afternoon in that house where they met, he wended his along the tombs in Lubas cemetery. He used a short cut, instead of traversing the winding road.

Going back to Baguio, Ah also needed to wend his way back along that short cut, that midnight, going down Lubas towards La Trinidad Highway.

It was a dark and comfortless Monday night, as Ah walked. There were no more jeeps ferrying Lubas and Ambiong-bound passengers.

The wind was up and swept over Lubas in fitful wailings, as if under the spell of an enchanter.

Even the moon tried her best to peer from her cloudy mantle, but at intervals, as clouds denied her the privilege.  The path where Ah walked was totally deserted.

Soon, Ah reached Lubas cemetery, as the white-painted tombs glimmered like dancing phantoms in the darkness, in cadence to silence. The shortcut was lonely.

Ah couldn’t fathom it but he felt there was something that connects tombs to human existence, a chord, touched, which vibrates. The sensation pressed strongly on his mind. As the remembrance of those departed stole into his thought.

Soon, it started to rain again, making the night darker. The wind veered westward, leaving strange murmurings behind the cemetery’s hallowed grounds.

In the middle of the cemetery, Ah saw a moving shape who was scraping something in one of the tombs.

Now, mind you, fair readers, Ah ain’t afraid no bit of ghost, for ghosts are mere figments of the imagination.

Ah peered towards the figure and realized it was a human being after all – in fact a woman.

Ah sighed with deep relief, went near the woman and said, “Ayna apoh, kunak la ket din nu al-alya kan. Ading, apay anya ti ar-aramidem ditoy sementeryo ti pasado alas dose   ti rabii. Adda ka kuma idiay balay yon ti kastoy nga   sipnget ti oras. Ken apay anya dayta tiktik-tikam dita lapida ti panteon?”

And the woman answered, “Aah, basta ketdin. . .!”

Ah pressed, saying, “Ading, ket nu bigat mon tan nga aramiden dayta ar-aramidem, ta ni nakaun-uneg ti rabii!”

And the strange woman answered, “Manong, masuron-nak a talaga! Kasanu met ngamin ket wrong spelling ti nagan ko nga in-ukit da ditoy lapida ti panteon ko! Talaga a makapasuron! Isu ni, nagriing nak ta suksukatak!”

Best grumble one can ever hear from a ghost, to last a lifetime.

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