Thursday, September 20, 2007

TAONG PUTIK

1992.

The lanterns have been judged (their barbed wire and gold painted parol won third place), the floats are being dismantled (they lost), the college muse and her escort went home (their college uniform costume flopped).

Normally, this is the time to get drunk.

But Kimat T. Amianan would rather just sit the night away wrapped in that flimsy symbol of The Prophets, occasionally grabbing a handful of dried grass and throwing these in the cold midnight wind, gazing at the sky wondering why there are no stars tonight; the bands are playing gamely but they are out of tune; fishballs and isaw are selling briskly.

It has been some time since he moved out of the old apartment but the angst still clung to him like parasites sucking out all the light and happiness in the world.

He never felt so small, so helpless, and so alone…

Then she came, like the warm breath of an angel, chasing away the ghosts, shutting down the world for a moment.

And he felt good.

For a long time before he learned to sing another song, she would be a refuge and her place in the old sleepy town where a boy general was born many year ago his oasis.


1993.

They had chicken and pork adobo for dinner and they talked about lovers and bastard kids as the big Padre deftly slide a long string of floss between his teeth.

O has been bitchy and would be more the next day in Bibiclat; they did not talk much along the way.

The small Padre accommodated them but is as cold as Baguio in December as they have been warned.

“Look at the symbols!” O snapped as they squeezed into the bell tower, “This sign here means the Franciscans were here!” he almost shouted, and scribbled into his notes and glared and scribbled and glared some more.

He felt bad and would have pushed O off the tower if not for the poetry that bonded them…



2007.

While costumed lechons parade in Balayan and people douse or get doused elsewhere on San Juan’s feast day, the faithful of Bibiclat in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija wake up early to soak their cloaks of dried banana leaves, camote vines etcetera and their bodies in cold slimy mud.

Then they march around and to the church barefoot, a saintly procession of zombies and Taong Putik begging for candles, and people willingly obliging them as atonements for their sins.


I heard that the ritual originated during the war when Japanese soldiers herded the barrio’s male population in the churchyard to be shot.

It was an afternoon but the sky is almost midnight as the hard rain pounded the soil into a mush.

Suddenly, the sun burst out of the dark clouds when the Japs were about to fire.

It was a miracle for both captors who’s national symbol is centerpieced with a red sun, and the captives who realized it was the feast day of San Juan.

There were no executions that day…

And so I came as a pilgrim begging to scratch a 14-year itch and break a new Nikon D40 too.

The church has not changed much; I walked around amidst the ghosts of the past: bitchy O snapping at Kimat T. Amianan in the bell tower, a boy who would command an army passing through, and a doomed general on the way to his death.


“What print is this?” Bertong Langis, pointing to a stack of brownish red hued Taong Putik photos, once asked Oyet P.

“Sefia,” he was told.

3 comments:

jun of zerogravity said...

Hala, kung nagkataon pala, si Oyet ang unang casualty ng kalembang sa aliaga at hindi si Kris aquino nung hinahabol sila ng flower girl sa Sukob?

Sana sa susunod na taon putik di na sumakit itlog ko nang makasama ako sa inyo.

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mielmaguigad said...

Would like to speak to you about the possibility of using some of your photos for a book. Please email me at miel.maguigad@gmail.com as soon as possible. Thank you