Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Lola Belay swore that Alona has been walking inside her womb even before she was born. And indeed, Alona came to the world with a mole on her left foot and a limp on her right. As she grew up, a pronounced line from her palms to the mole on her left foot emerged. The numbers on the cards said so: Alona will leave Bacal Dos and live in a big house.

She did left Bacal Dos to tend to her children while her husband worked as a mechanic in a US military base. But their house along Sampaloc Street in Sta. Ana was tight and the ground floor always submerged in dank sewage water. It didn’t help that the neighborhood kids were bullies, especially a 5-year old vacationing imp from Revillen Street who went by the name of Abet whose eternal amusement was pulling down the pants of Alona’s 3-year old Nene.

Alona and the kids returned to Bacal Dos after her husband moved to a new job fixing ships in Cebu. But the mole in her left foot began to grow and itch not long after. The limp got worse too. She realized she must follow. The whole family did and lived in a small 2-story house overlooking a swamp where everyday, kangkong gatherers converge to harvest their eternal crop. They stayed there for 5 years and left after Alona bonfired her husband’s clothes who then quit his job because he’s got no more work clothes to wear, and Nene could no longer endure the taunting chuckles of the tukos.

Back in Bacal Dos, Alona’s family moved to a shack hastily built over a fishpond owned by one of her aunts. Alona’s journey must continue or her family will suffer. That’s the prophecy of the mole and the limp as told by the lines in her palm and the numbers on the cards.

This time, she left alone and arrived in Kuala Lumpur when the afternoon downpours were at their strongest. She worked for and stayed in a Datu’s big colonial era house cocooned in a maze of rubber trees. Her assignment was to make sure the drainage canals are clear and after 3 years of doing this, Alona thought of going home to Bacal Dos. That’s when the huge rubber snake with smoldering eyes showed up, hissing its warning that Alona must continue her journey. So she stayed, and only thought of going home after another 4 years. That’s when the Datu’s youngest child dreamed that Alona was hurting her. The next day, Alona was hauled to jail where the warden grimly told her that the prophecy must be fulfilled.

Resigned to her faith, Alona tried to expunge going home from her memory. On her day-offs when the specter of Bacal Dos beckons the strongest, she would walk to the Merdeka Square to sell the RTWs she haggled earlier in Jalan Petaling. One day, a middle aged Filipina approached and went through her merchandise. After paying for 2 shirts and a cap which she said were for her eldest son, she asked Alona where to find a place to eat. That is a quite a long walk so Alona graciously offered to share her lunch of cold rice and 2-day old fried chicken.

Over their food, Alona learned that her costumer was vacationing in Kuala Lumpur with the Singaporean family she worked for. Alona listened intently to a tale of frequent moves into houses that were always near churches and schools. Her name is Precy and came from a place called Almaguer where her eldest son Abet learned how swim in the dacquel nga carayan.

Many years later, the prophecies of Bacal Dos and Almaguer converged in the magical school of Hogwarts where Alona’s Nene crossed paths with Precy’s Abet. They got married a few years after college and settled in Bacal Dos. Only Precy was able to attend the wedding because by then, Alona’s journey has taken her to the frontiers of the Old World where she still works cleaning palatial houses…

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (from top to bottom):

NATIONAL MOSQUE, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA. Malaysia’s National Mosque was inaugurated in 1965 and is said to be one of the most beautiful in Southeast Asia. Its main features are an umbrella-like roof and its 73-meters high minaret.

BATU CAVES, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA. The 400 million years old Batu Caves were first used by the Besisis or Orang Asli as transit shelters. At around 1860, Chinese settlers started mining guano from there until an American naturalist came across it in 18178. An Indian trader stumbled on the caves sometime at around 1890 and established the Sri Mahariamman Temple in 1891. A year later, the annual Thaipusam Festival in honor of Siva’s son Subramaniam was started is held. Steps to the caves were built in 1920 to allow pilgrims access to the Temple or Cathedral Cave. The world’s tallest Lord Muruga statue was added in 2006. The Batu Caves today has become the most sacred Hindu shrine in Malaysia.

ST. MARY’S CATHEDRAL, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA. This Anglican church was first built in 1887 before being relocated to what is now Merdeka Square. It was the first brick church to be built in the Malay peninsula.

MASJID JAMEK MOSQUE, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA. The mosque was built in 1909 and was Malaysia’s principal mosque before the National Mosque was opened in 1965.

SHAH ALAM STATE MOSQUE, SELANGOR, MALAYSIA. Also known as the Blue Mosque, its 4 minarets rising at 142.3 meters are the tallest in world.

1 comment:

Rufino said...

un saludo