Serendipity, fine readers of Herald Express, is an eleven-letters word that, if you may, never ceases to arouse the capricious nature of Northern Luzon residents, as much as the experience itself: that by stumbling upon a good thing or situation by sheer chance, fluke, happenstance, break, luck, dumb luck, good luck, happy chance or lucky break.
It comes from the root word “serendip,” the ancient name Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, inspired by Horace Walpole, an 18-century British writer who created the word, which, when discovered by chance, was thought to be paradise.
Every now and then, Northern Luzon residents always make discoveries, by sagacity or accident, of things that are not in quest.
On hand, we find rather matter for surprise, in serendipity, in the similarity of discovery of any case, in the circumstances that in dealing with the same chances, these do not both fall upon one and the same identical process and we wonder rather, at the same process.
Let Daily laborer tell an example of serendipity.
By what mysterious law of nature is it that one day you left your watch or cell phone at a shop for it to be repaired. Half an hour later, someone stops you on the street and conspicuously ask for the time.
But you cannot answer as you haven’t the gadget with you to check the time. Then both of you peering closely at each other realize to your amazement that you were two long lost friends who haven’t seen each other for decades.
So, as much as the meaning itself, serendipity reminds Daily laborer of three instances imposed upon us and shackled many during the pandemic onslaught: firstly, that during pandemic ravaging us, people, particularly moonstruck couples, were cautioned against holding hands while walking the streets, second, for all to observe social distancing, and third, no shaking of hands. Instances that humans have never been in quest previously.
Filipinos, like other humans on earth, have this unexplained penchant for holding somebody’s hand and not their own personal hands and secondly, gravitating towards someone even if that someone happens to be a stranger and shaking somebody’s hand like you want to discover what mystery happens to hide in that somebody’s palm.
Daily Laborer simply couldn’t understand these “flukes” that people go far to pursue even as his former psychologist colleagues from the Department of Health-Cordillera Administrative Region (DOH-CAR) keep yelling into his deaf ears that such are fundamental human behaviors.
Now that Covid-19 has abated, in the case of holding hands by moonstruck couples, could that magic, alas, been dissipated, if not, having completely disappeared by now? Blame it on the pandemic, if you will, or on the passage of time.
As for Daily Laborer, he blames it on a fluke that authorities have yet to decide on a policy bordering on a message to all and sundry that spells something like, “Hear! Hear! People of the Cordillera and the lowlands, with Covid-19 immunization going very well, couples can now intertwine their fingers till they break while staring into each other’s eyes and never mind if they stumble while walking the streets.”
Lucky break for the Local Government Units (LGUs) of Baguio and Benguet that had they observed, holding hands by couples seem to be a fad, fast fading from public sight.
For indeed, it has become serendipitous, unexpected, unforeseen, and unplanned.
Take, for example the Cordillera and lowland part of our world where you and Daly Laborer often stumble upon a lucky break or good luck. How so?
Well, ever since the days of Adam – that poor resident-creature in the Garden of Eden – highlander and lowlander men have fortuitously discovered for themselves that there has been hardly a mischief done in this Northern Luzon part of the world but a woman has been at the bottom of it.
And lucky devils are highlander, Ilocano, Pangasinense and other male residents of Northern Luzon for such a happenstance.
Short of saying, fate laughingly sports with us, the men of Northern Luzon: women have ruled over us since the days of Adam.
Daily Laborer will give a very good example of Northern Luzon women having ruled over Northern Luzon men since the time of Adam.
Remarkable it is that we can put our own hands into our own pockets. Men, as a rule, are never quite at ease unless we have our hands in our own pockets. We are awkward and shifty. Happy chance that when we put our hands in our trouser pockets, we can expostulate eloquently.
And the women will nod approvingly seeing our hands pocketed; but they will raise hell and put a shindig if we try to use our hands and dig something hidden in women’s pockets, wallets or bags.
Short of saying again of women ruling over men as thus: “The contents of your wallet are mine; the contents of my wallet are mine and mine, alone, understand!”
When news seems to be boring in Cordillera highlands or lowland Region 1, highlanders and lowlanders males take revenge at the boring news by going to the bars and saluting life by drinking or travelling.
And it makes Daily Laborer remember about “mar y sol.” In Spanish, mar means sea and sol means sun. Mar y sol is a favorite salute to life by drinking buddies.
And the sea and sun are exactly what were recently abundant after the pandemic that highlanders flocked to the lowlands in search of mar while on the other hand, the lowlanders went up to the highlands in search of sol perfumed with the resin of Benguet pine trees.
Now, we have always heard from our highlander and lowlander compatriots, whenever prices go up, there is no employment to grab, when times are rough, when no help is forthcoming, about the discouraging phrase, “It is a dog eat dog world!”
Yet once in a while, by no accident, and lucky break, we witness people heaping kindness upon a fire, throwing on their pleasant words, their gentle pressures of the hands for their thoughtful and unselfish deeds.
You may have witnessed many incidents the past months, of the deeds of officers of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) going about their work by fanning it with good humor, patience and forbearance.
BCPO officers deeds like helping a teenage who encountered an unfortunate accident at Baguio City’s Wright Park, of persons who fell ill or fainted along the city streets, aiding elders cross the streets, helping move heavy baggage of individuals waiting for a ride for home, offering their police vehicles for passengers, and many more kind acts.
Such deeds you may also have witnessed emanating from officers of the Benguet Police Office.
Lucky for us, Baguio and Benguet residents that serendipity lies in the blood of our police officers who can let the rains fall unheeded, for our hearths to be warm and bright, and the faces round it will make sunshine, in spite of clouds without.
Sometimes, too, we stumble upon the serendipitous, when we go to the parks like Burnham Park and seeing human beings in the blues. And we cluck our tongues and commiserate with those unidentified persons we see who felt the world has fallen on them.
One can enjoy feeling melancholy. Sometimes there is this contrasting deal of satisfaction about being thoroughly miserable, yet nobody likes the fit of the blues. But all of us have the blues.
But reflections while at the park make you a little bit more cheerful for you will realize that REGRET has walked with you as a friend, glad that your saltiness has been washed and realize Time’s dark avenue upon a fading past.
And by sheer chance, you find yourself smiling alone, like a capricious fool.
Well, thank your heavens for your serendipitous discovery of your smile coming back to you, while the promenades at Burnham Park, seeing you smiling alone, are wondering to themselves whether you are right in the head.
But it is just easy to get into the habit of smiling. Don’t you remember those children, their dimples showing that you caught a glimpse of, the other day as you boarded a jeep bound for Baguio City or La Trinidad? Wouldn’t you have a soul like them? For you have stumbled upon something you have never been in quest of.