Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Supermoon; Memories of Full Moons in Taloctoc

When I was a kid, nights with the full moon were memorable nights of playing hide and seek. We would play in the shadows of the celestial wonder for several hours, seeking each other in the shadows of the trees and huts in our little village.

At times, we stared at the moon- after being exhausted from playing- and asked ourselves what would we do if we would ever reach the moon one day.

During those days, it was unimaginable that anyone could reach the moon. But as we have learned later, in 1969- when Miss Gloria Diaz became the first Miss Universe of the Philippines - American astronauts landed on the moon.

Now, whenever I look at the moon, just like the previous Supermoon phenomenon, I remember those care-free nights in Taloctoc, the giggles and the wanton insouciant games, the first stirrings of emotions, and the seemingly impossible dreams that we and my friends once had.


The photo is a genuine picture of the Supermoon this month of March 2011. It was photographed by Dr. Lorenzo Bernardino. Doc Z, as called by his online friends, is a doctor in internal medicine working at the Majuro Hospital, Marshall Islands.

He is a poet and a writer, read his amazing 140 Flash Fiction, and his poems in his blog Zorlone. Now he is into photography as well. Thanks Doc, for allowing me to use your picture.

He says about himself:

Zorlone, an anagram of my name. A title fitting to this blog of mine. Words are created every time such as blogs created online. This site will showcase thoughts translated into words. Dream. Create. Inspire. Follow me in Twitter @Zorlone or visit me too at 140 Flash Fiction.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Travelling in Taloctoc and Superb Hotel Deals

It has been ages since l last went home to Taloctoc. Oh how I missed those days where life was simple and unadulterated. We used to trek the 4 hour-journey from town. There were no means of transportation except our own two feet. No jeepneys, no buses, no trains, no planes and no bikes whatsoever. We carried our meager clothing in a backpack and trekked home through a narrow dilapidated trail that passed by cliffs, rivers and waterfalls. But the enjoyment of the trip is beyond compare. We would satiate our hunger pangs with the wild guavas and berries sprinkled across the mountain tops. Oftentimes, we also picked exotic orchids along the way. We basked in the crystal clear waters before finally heading to the village.

There were times; we had to stay for the night in the mountains because of the raging river current which we cannot cross. There were no hotels to sleep in, but the stillness and blackness of the night was an incredible wonder we would savor. These are moments I would treasure forever.

Just recently, my daughter advised me to travel and visit them abroad. I had a dream of visiting Europe; perhaps Austria, or Switzerland. In terms of their significant values, these are awesome places that I find similar to my village -Taloctoc. I was going over hotel deals that would be cheap and that would offer comfort and elegance simultaneously.

There are some of them that were to my preference. One is the Boston hotel deals which I find to my liking. I love deals that would allow me to save instead of spending.

Like Taloctoc, a wonderful vacation need not be expensive.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Panagbenga Festival: I Can't Help but Post These Last Year's Beautiful Pictures

Singer-Actress Karylle, daughter of Zsa Zsa Padilla.

The Dancing policewomen

AMA's AMAZING float.

Above is the young actor in First Love

SM's Float was one of the best last year, 2010

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kalinga Women with Tattoos: The Pride of Kalinga Culture

Kalinga Women Tattoos, the pride of Kalinga culture, courtesy of Naty Sugguiyao, thanks Naty.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kalinga Dishes - Fish Dishes

Fish Dishes

· Kalinga dishes could comprise of fish wrapped in banana leaves, placed in bamboo poles and cooked over direct flame. This brings out the succulent natural flavor of the fish.

· Fish mixed with lettuce or string beans and tomatoes, cooked with a generous amount of water. You should try this without salt. If both products are freshly collected, you would never forget the exquisite taste this will grant your palate.

· Fish could also be roasted directly over low flame.

All of these Kalinga dishes are without any condiment. You can do this at home, but make sure your raw foods are fresh from the fish pond or garden. You would be surprised at how scrumptious a fish or vegetable could taste even without salt or condimentse. They taste incredibly delicious.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Naty Sugguiyao and The Tattooed Women of Kalinga

As promised in the last post "Kalinga Culture", here is a picture of Kalinga women, one in her birthday suit, with their vivid body tattoos.

Tattoos have been one of the permanent components of the costumes of the Kalinga people. These pictures are from a woman whom I have always admired since I was still in High School.

I have looked upon her as a model to emulate; a valedictorian of her class, she is "beauty and brains"and everything I have envisioned a perfect woman should be.

Back then, my young heart have often imagined her to become my future sister-in-law. lol.

But fate has other things in store for her. I am talking about Naty Sugguiyao from Lubo, Tanudan.

Naty Sugguiyao is a well traveled, highly educated Kalinga woman, and who, herself, dons her tattoo proudly to show her ancestry.

She was interviewed on National TV, been invited to present Kalinga Tattoos abroad, written about in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and is a Provincial Officer at National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP.)

If that is not enough, then you may want to buy a book on "Kalinga Tattoos" where she was one of the proponents and models simultaneously.

Naty is the lovely lady in the violet dress.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kalinga Culture: The Kalinga Native Costume

The Kalinga native costume is composed of a tapis (woven rectangular cloth, worn on the lower half of the body for women). In the olden ages, this was the only costume of Kalinga women. I still witnessed the time of topless women. In our village in Kalinga, during the 1960s, married women went topless once they got married.

Nobody looked at them with malice. The malice lies in the eyes of the beholder. The men in turn wore "bahags" or g-strings, a thin and long cloth which is worn around the man's private parts, with both ends hanging from his body. Tattoos were also in fad.

Nowadays, people wore upper shirts and pants. Some old folks though still prefer to wear the old native costume. Tattoos are also still adapted by the younger Kalinga generation as a way of being proud of their ancestry.


These pictures were taken by Nats Dalanao, an engineer cum photographer. Thanks Nats for the pictures.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Kalinga Tradition: An Ordinary Day in Taloctoc, Kalinga (when I was a child)

An ordinary day in Taloctoc, Kalinga when I was still a child had been so simple, that I wonder now how I had turned my life into a complex hurly-burly. I have made my life complicated. With all the gadgets like cell phones, laptops, video cams; and instant services (almost everything is instant) instant coffee, instant noodles, instant hamburger, fast foods; life passes by in a blur.lol. I can’t savor life anymore, as I should.

I don’t get to enjoy any longer the quiet evenings in the tranquil Chico River during dawn or dusk; the joy of looking down a mountain top and basking in Mother Nature’s incredible wonder. Oh, I miss all these things and more.

A day in Taloctoc during summer had been so uncomplicated, that its simplicity had made it uniquely fascinating. I was 9 years old then, and school was over for the year. I was not yet completely adapted to the village life during that time, because I had come from the city where I stayed during the early years of my childhood; so, it had been an entirely new challenging world for me.

I remember how I would fetch water from the creek down the mountain because I was staying overnight with my grandparents in the kaingin. This was because I was not as sturdy as the rest of my peers, who trekked to the kaingin day in and day out without suffering DOMS. Ha ha ha.

Those days were most memorable for me because I have experienced feeling “Godlike” atop my mountain hideaway, where everything was peaceful and calm; all I have heard were the cacophony of chanting cicadas and the chirping of birds around me. I usually woke up early in the morning and watched as the sun rose from the mountain top, slowly revealing its splendor amidst the white fluffy clouds drifting by. It was a breathtaking view that I would always remember.

I remember gazing down at the tiny huts below and thinking of myself as some sort of God. At an early age, I had loved reading so I had imagined I was some Greek Goddess watching mere mortals below as they labored and toiled.

After I had enjoyed the sunrise and the cool breeze playing on my face, I then proceeded to gather mushrooms from the tree stumps in the kaingin. Then, I would fetch water from the small creek at the bottom of the slope, until I have filled the big drinking pot. I carried a bamboo pole which was at least 3 feet in length on my bare shoulders, just like what the boys did, and I had taken pride that I had slowly adjusted to barrio-life in Taloctoc, Kalinga.

I had my battle-scars to show, so to speak: feet and hand blisters, hardened soles, darkened skin, etc. I oftentimes, had hidden my tears of pain in the night, afraid that someone would see them, and brand me a “sadot” (lazy bones.)

Those were the days, days that are forever etched in my memory. I suffered [physically but I consider them wonderful days of yore that I would always treasure forever.

Coming next, more Kalinga traditions and Kalinga culture.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Kalinga Song - Ullalim

A Kalinga Song

Intakkon at de payaw
ot inggaw tako at de dawang
magamput kad de ani
mangantako losan at de igon
de boloy.

Intakkon at de payaw
losan de tatago mampangot
te awad kanon tako
nippon mangwa at de kingwa tako.


Let's go to the ricefields.
Where the river is found.
When we are done with the harvest,
we will eat at the houses.

Let's go the ricefields.
All folks should work hard.
So we have something to eat.
No one else can do the job for us.

Kalinga people are industrious. You rarely see someone lounging at home. They are hardworking and honest people who value hard work and take pride in the fruits of their labor.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


The mournful chant reverberated through the small four walls of the hut…” Aieeeee” . Guinnaban - 9 at that time - was cowering in the eerie shadows and staring at the old woman wailing for the gaunt, pale corpse laid on the long table. The head of the corpse lay at a grotesque angle - nearly severed totally from his body.

Uma nangwa kansika anna?”” ( Who have done this to you?) she wailed even louder “Aiieeeeee”….. everyone joined in and the hut became a cacophony of mournful cries.

The barrio captain motioned to the elders for a conference and they filed outside, their faces, grim and murderous. There was a hubbub of angry and frenzied debate.

Finally the barrio captain raised his arm and said “ Intakkon no, umma uwayon yo, ittod tako kanida de kingwada” ( Then what are we waiting for, let’s avenge his death.)

And so a full blown “tribal war” has began.

Guinnaban, grew amidst these bloody chaos caused by two warring tribes who both wanted domination over the municipality. He accepted it as a way of life: the constant refuge in the deep forest even in the stillness of the night when the “enemy” had come to attack, the code of silence even when what he wanted was to wail at the injustice of it all; at age 10, he had stood as a sentinel on one of the night watches.

The “enemy” did not select their victims. Women and children were not spared by their avenging spears and bolos. Men had their head always severed from their bodies, as a symbol of victory. No one ventured outside their barrio’s perimeter unless escorted by warriors.

He was 12, when a Belgian, missionary priest , Fr. Carl Belucci, dared to trek to their far flung barrio. Everyone was wary of him. What did this white haired man with a long aquiline nose wanted with them? He was not the enemy surely but might he be a spy? No one wanted to welcome Fr. Belucci and his companion to their nipa huts.

Guinnaban could not explain what prompted him to approach the priest. “ You are not here to help us, are you?” he queried with big round eyes.

“I am here not only to help, “ he said in his soft, mellow voice; and Guinnaban believed him.

At his age, he had a keen perception of people's characters. His judgment of strangers had an amazing accuracy, and he did this just by looking at their eyes. He knew, the priest was his salvation.

From then on, Guinnaban served as the altar boy in each Holy Mass the priest celebrated. He began to learn that there was salvation for everyone, even his enemies.

The elders however, were too far gone to forgive and forget whatever the sins of the past were, and continued with their thirst for vengeance.

Some younger men pleaded with the elders to forge a peace pact with the other tribe to end the senseless war.

They started proceedings but it seemed that their efforts were futile, there was still no vestige of reconciliation. It was at that time that Fr. Belucci was called back to the parish church in town as it was becoming increasingly dangerous for him to stay on in the barrio.

“Do you want to come with me?” Fr. Belucci asked Guinnaban, two days before his scheduled departure.

“You can continue serving as an altar boy and can go to school simultaneously.”

“But what about ina and ama?” Guinnaban wanted to go but feared for the safety of his parents.

“They can come with you.” The old priest patted his head.

So on that gloomy, Monday morning, Guinnaban and his parents got what little was left of their belongings and joined Fr. Belucci on his 5 hr-trek to town.

As soon as they have arrived in town, he was baptized to Christianity by Fr. Belucci and had been named Benedict, after St. Benedict. He liked the name Benedict. For him, it symbolizes hope and courage. The church people started calling him - Benny.

The abrupt change of environment had made him and his family uncomfortable at first. There were moments he thought he would prefer going back to the barrio.

“Hey, what’s your name?” one tall, gangly boy, motioned to Guinnaban.

“Benedict” he replied.

“Benedict? That's a fancy name, huh? Far from your ugly, Kalinga name.” and the group would roar with laughter.

“ Let’s see if you can live up to your name, “ laughing, they left him speechless, at the center of the school’s quadrangle.

Scenes like these had been common in his first days in school.

They always picked on him and made fun of him. “Here’s the native,” they would taunt and ridicule him; but as days laboriously passed , it was evident he had bested them all in any category. Be it in Mathematics, English, Literature, or Music, he had an eye and a heart for all these.

He was the Grand Champion in the Math Quiz bee, the Spelling Bee and had won the Short Story Writing Contest sponsored by the English Society. He then earned their respect and admiration.

And every single one of them started calling him Benny - even those who had belittled him from the start .

He graduated from St Theresa’s College as the high school class Valedictorian of ‘ 67, with all 6 medals: His gold for academic excellence, his leadership award, his Insular Life gold, Best in math, Best in English and Most Outstanding graduate.

The years went by in a flash for Benny. He was 17 and in college.

He was in physical torment. His face was numb. He could not even feel the blast of the gelid air into his naked body. His face was bloated and he had difficulty opening his eyes. When he moved a muscle, his entire body screamed with pain.

“ Where are the others?” the sweaty, smelly face of the man was inches from his own.

All Benny could do was to shake his head. He had no idea what the man was asking. There was a slap to his face as he was slipping again into unconsciousness. “ Tell me where the others are!” When he could not answer, another blow landed and he gratefully slipped into a dreamless "sleep".

He and three others were arrested for illegal assembly. He was elected as the President of the University’s Student Council and they were conducting a meeting to resolve a “tribal war” that was brought to the city and had began to disrupt the university students’ safety.

He knew that it was an unspoken rule that warring tribes should make the cities off limits. This was respected by both tribes, but some scalawags had only vengeance foremost in their minds, and they had attempted to murder a young, innocent boy, who knew nothing of it , but just had the misfortune to belong to Benny's tribe.

It was martial law at that time, and any assembly, was considered a threat to national security. They were caught and detained without any warrants of arrest and tortured to reveal supposedly very important communist agenda.

In his bouts of consciousness and unconsciousness Benny had a striking thought . If these soldiers would continue what they are doing right then, he would definitely join the ranks of the red, and this made him smile inwardly.

It was on the third day that Fr. Belucci came and had brought him to the hospital. Even priests were suspected of being communist supporters, for Fr. Belucci was not spared. He was brusquely frisked like anyone before he entered the camp premises. What kind of society is our country turning to? Benny thought.

College life had been a tremendous challenge for Benny. Being from the cultural minority, he encountered the same ridicule and scorn he had experienced during high school. The only difference was that, he was no longer bothered.

Just like in high school, when his peers realized that he was a brilliant and talented student, they accorded him respect and admiration. Women adored his exceptional humility in spite of all the feathers on his cap.

His parents and Fr. Belucci had always been very supportive of him.


Kalinga Waterfalls,Kalinga Philippines

This beautiful waterfalls is only one of the various captivating waterfalls in Kalinga. This picture was taken by a superb photographer, Nats Dalanao. Note that photography is only one of the hobbies of this talented young man. He generously shares his Kalinga pictures in this blog.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Panagbenga 2011 Festival Baguio City, Philippines (more pictures)

As promised, here are the rest of the Panagbenga 2011 pictures. The floats are all fascinating. Remember that all of these are made up of flowers. These pictures are courtesy of MARLENE-ARCILLA MANLAPAZ. Thanks, Marlene for sharing them with me.

The Jollibee Float with Mr. Jollibee!!!