Pillows of the Mind

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Daily Laborer, seated last Thursday atop Mount Kalugong, in La Trinidad, Benguet, squinted at   the majestic sun jauntily strolling in style above, in his brightness and   checking whether the clouds finally opened their doors to his rays.

As we all experienced, we can disagree with Mr. Sun on many occasions, particularly on times he is blazing hot on our heads, but we cannot deny the fact that “he’s got the style.”

Then spotting a sightseer huffing up the trail of Mount Kalugong with a pillow betwixt her arm, Daily Laborer mused   every person’s style, whether Cordilleran, lowlander or coming from different parts of the country, has a front door and a back door, by which one can enter if permitted.

By golly! A quilted pillow appearing nowhere at Mount kalugong, Daily laborer snorted to himself. Hang me, Daily Laborer grinned, fashion does really change a lot, but style or taste remains.

There are, indeed, few good dispositions of any kind with which the improvement of taste is more or less connected and taste increases sensibility to all tender and humane passions.

The pillow- lugger paused near where Daily Laborer loitered, wiped the sweat from her painted eyebrows, nodded and smiled at him  then blurted, “Ayna, nagrigat ti sumang-at ditoy bantay,” while her two  kids, who swarmed around her  sped off to other directions of Mount Kalugong, leaving their mother  to her tiredness.

And Daily Laborer happened to know the person caressing the pillow. She was Andrea Dlabantes, a lovely lady in her mid-thirties who stayed at Quirino Hill, Baguio City.  She was with her kids as they crazily scrambled around Mount Kalugong, yelling like the devil was on their tails.

 Dlabantes approached Daily Laborer, found a place to sit nearby, squatted, gave her pillow with a few whacks, placed it on the grassy ground, sat on it with a sigh of relief then finally said, “Kumusta ka, Bony? Long time, no see. Jay picture mo laeng ti makitkitak nu basaek ti column mo. And of all places, ditoy pay Mount Kalugong nga makita ka manen!”

Instead of answering Dlabantes, Daily laborer said in jest: “Napipya pay dayta pungan mo ta nakapasyar ditoy Mount Kalugong.”

Dlabantes, hearing about her travelling pillow, shrieked in laughter and exclaimed, “kanya-kanyang style, Bony, kanya-kanyang style. Daytoy pungan ket ruwangan ti stylistics ko.  Gets mo?” 

Dlabantes comments that Thursday at Mount Kalugong forced Daily Laborer to conclude with finality that, indeed, a person’s feeling or disposition has a front and a back door. 

Such doors of disposition, some keep them always open, some keep them bolted; some keep them latched with a chain that will let you peep in, but not get in.

Some keep their doors of disposition nailed up, so that nothing can pass its threshold. These doors of disposition may be facing street or none at all.

Style, indeed, is like putting the more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in. Or the more you are a puzzle, the more  the “Maritises”  or the lazy gossips  or those engaged in tsis-mis  will buzz speculating about you and throwing  ghastly suspicions to wind.   

These doors of disposition many residents in Baguio City or in Cordillera highlands simply call it, “style,” or “ket isu ti style na a,” or “style ko ngarud, or “Anya ti maaramidam ket style na ngarud, anya ti pakibibiyakam, eh?” 

Cordillerans may say it as “Style ko anggey di,” Pangasinense folks utter it as, “Style ko labat,” and Ilocanos liken it as, “Style ko lang ajay,” and Ibaloys   sweetly croon, “Style ko ciay mango.” 

Not only such disposition connects to Baguio residents or Cordillerans but as well to lowlanders, Tagalogs, Visayans or Mindanaoans. Tagalogs say as it as, “Eh, style ko eh, anong paki mo, ha?” 

Some critics though, when observing the disposition or antics of others, possess this uncomprehending manner of blurting, “Style mo, bulok!!” 

But try telling “style mo, bulok” to Ma’am Andrea Dlabantes who prefers the style of  lugging a pillow around  when she goes places and chances are, she  will heartily  smother you to death  with the pillow  she tucks under her hand.

It’s not easy to give a precise idea of what is meant by “Style” in the context of regionalistic Filipinos. The best definition Daily Laborer can offer is the peculiar manner in which a Filipino/Filipina expresses his /her conceptions by means of language or mannerism. 

We take for example the political candidates now campaigning to be voted to office.  Words, which a political candidate employs, may be proper and faultless. Or  a political candidate’s style  may border on being dry, still, feeble or affected to force  voters listening to said candidate  to say to their friends, kumpare or  kumadre, “  Oy, sika, nadeng-ngeg  mo ba ni  kwa,( then citing  a political candidate’s name),  bitin diay panagkampanya na, a!”    

But on this  score, readers, at this time of political fever when  passions are roiled  for  their preferred candidates, be very careful imparting  side door comments on any candidate, lest you find  someone  takes offense and show disposition of  slamming shut  his/her door in  your face and spoiling the pillows of your mind. 

It happens that in this political season, some has gotten into the habit of frowning upon someone’s pillow when these some find out that someone’s preference for a certain candidate doesn’t jibe with theirs. And they go on Facebook attacking the credentials of political candidates. 

Back at Mount kalugong. Parting ways with Andrea Dlabantes, Daily Laborer crossed a side of the mountain and tried to rest his weary back and catch a nap.  He found a billet of wood and used it as his pillow.

But his slumber was disturbed by a cow which appeared from nowhere, browsed down on him and tried to nibble at his billet wood of a pillow, as if wanting to say, “Old man,  go throw yourself on a bed and  there, court the sweets of the pillow. Mount Kalugong isn’t your bed.”

It was late that evening when he arrived at Baguio City from Mount kalugong. And at Baguio, he witnessed something.

If by chance, late in the evening, you pass the junction where traffic coming down from Bokawkan Road and Magsaysay Road converge, you might see a homeless guy sleeping under the overpass, just below the Cathedral of the Resurrection.

The junction Daily Laborer is pointing out is exactly where Baguio City Police (BCPO) Officers and traffic enforcers diligently stand to direct the smooth flow of traffic going towards Trancoville and traffic going upwards Bokawkan or Buhagan Road.

There, Daily laborer saw the street person, alone, wrapped in his vision of sleep, exposed to the dews of the night and rested. One who has no place he calls his home. The cold earth beneath the underpass was his bed; a stone he found, he used as a pillow for his aching head and  quench the flame.

The “anitos” by the moonlight danced around the street person’s cement bed, for hallowed the turf in which pillowed his head.   

Gazing at the prostrate street person, Daily Laborer wondered: “Was his sleep sweet? Was his talk with his God delightful?” As compared with other persons going into their    loving families every evening with heavy creases between their eyebrows, glaring at the world as if it were a disease they might catch if they looked pleasant.

Following early morning, Daily Laborer packed food, water and went to see the street person where morning dawned upon his cold, rugged and warmless bed. The vapors of his sleep have dissipated. And the street person sat in crouched position.

In silence, the street person gazed around him, looked in vain for the bright assemblage of angelic spirits who may want to offer him food or give him some pennies. There were none. 

With intense interest, the street dweller listened, probably to catch a familiar voice of kin calling his name and telling him to come back home and not be a street person anymore. But in vain . . .

Daily Laborer gave the street sleeper the food and water who accepted   these silently. And the street sleeper bowed his head.

Taking the stone he set up for his pillow and cradling it, Daily laborer discerned the street sleeper wept with the most sublime conception to his Divine Majesty. And the stone he used as pillow, he set, as a pillar for his God’s House.

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