To blog or not to blog

My daily routine of heading to work has been put on hold for sometime now. This has given me the opportunity to re-ignite hobbies of old: reading and writing. With more time to spare, I was able to read those paperbacks gathering dust on the shelf. I’ve unwrapped and read subscriptions of unopened journals and magazines.

Coincidentally, I have had this longing to write about my own culture the moment I realized its slow demise and how much I have actually taken it for granted.

To blog:  As I browsed through some old photos of my hometown, my ‘creative juices’ kicked off. I took courage and started writing(again). I heard about ‘blogging’ and decided to learn its intricacies.

This site, Opinions Matter, came to life.

My first attempt to blog about my roots,  Hometown Fortress came to fruition.

As I designed my blog site, I felt that I wanted to write more. But about what? I knew what I wanted to do; to share my opinions from my heart’s point of view. Not only have I discovered that blogging is an avenue for doing such but also a way of knowing the eccentricities and convictions of other people. Blogging has indeed widened my writing horizon.

To blog more: My determination to share my culture in writing has not waned, therefore, a separate site, www.benguetsite.wordpress.com has been created.

I hope that through this specific site, I will be able to relay the significance of not just knowing but also remembering one’s culture and traditions. Hence, passing a priceless heritage to generations still to come.

You may click on Benguet Blogs in Menu to read about my life as a Kankanaey Igorota.

Otherwise, stay tuned to more of my opinionated blogs about a lot of things under the sun.

One Day. Two Stories.’Kevi and Santa’

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A quiet stream


The weather
may be muggy today, but it’s tempting not to stay indoors. So I decided to drive around and take photos of the town where I’ve lived for the last 13 years. Then I met Kevi and Santa. Here is the other story.  

I took a stroll into the woods and stopped by a quiet stream to cool down. A dog was already there doing the same.  Its kind lady owner allowed me to take a photograph of her dog having fun.
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As I took the shot, my attention got diverted onto a couple at the shallow end of the stream. Their backs were turned to me and both were busy getting something from among the overgrown bushes in the water. This scene felt familiar. It took me back to a river in a town where I grew up. What I needed to do now was to verify a wild guess!

The woman noticed me and signaled that I follow a narrow path leading to where she was standing.

Whoah! I was right! The couple was gathering fresh and (oh, well, call it organic) watercress! I knew it!

Watercress is called tungsoy in my Ilocano dialect.

Here’s a flashback to my neighbourhood in La Trinidad, Benguet Philippines. Many residents plant watercress in a river for free! Then it was sold fresh and in bundles. By the way, for those who grew up in the same neighbourhood, they would know exactly what river I was referring to.

Back to the present: Where I currently live, watercress is packed and sold for making vegetable salads. Some people are not aware that it can either be sauteed or steamed.

The couple from Nepal spoke broken English but I was able to get their names; Kevi and Santa. They generously gave me a bagful of freshly picked watercress! From a stream where you’d never expect was teeming with such nutritious green.

Not unless you have the slightest idea, then you’d never know.

img_2688Thank you, Kevi and Santa. Watercress happened to be one of my favourites. I hope we’ll meet again.

 

Here is the first story in one day.






One Day. Two Stories. ‘Bernie’

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someone else’s lucky day


The weather may be muggy today but it’s tempting not to stay indoors. So I decided to drive around and take photos of the town where I’ve lived for the last 13 years. Then I met Bernie. This is his story.

My stopover was in a park with a large pond near my home. It must have been my lucky day! I just spotted a pair of swans frolicking in the water. What a good photo that would make!

Then I noticed that it was also someone else’s lucky day. He was not only clicking away with a camera slung around his neck but seemed to be chatting with the swans, too. Interesting!

 

As I approached nearer, I found the man feeding the swans and their cygnets with grass. Sensing my curiosity he explained, “They do eat grass but not any kind. They must be hand-cut and I’ve just given them dandelions. Try feeding them with that (pointing to the grass on the ground) and they will only spit it out.”

Here’s more: he must have read my mind. “The colour of the beak of the male is dark orange. The female beak is also orange but lighter.

They used to have nine cygnets. One of them died and the other got injured so it  was taken away.”

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Suddenly, the female swan (now I know) came closer to him. “Okay, you’re still hungry. Here’s some bread.”

I thought, “Oh wow, carbs and veg, good for you swan.”

“I come here everyday”, he continued. I guess my face looks familiar to them. But I would not mess with them during the mating season. The male, especially, can become aggressive. “He hit my hand with his wing once and it put me out of action for four days!”

He then pointed to a heron perched on the concrete in the middle of the pond.

heron ready for take-off

He got amused with the coots trying to grab their share of the bread. He threw in some more. I thought, “carbs and veg, good for you, ducks!”

Finally, I found the chance to ask him his name. ‘Bernie’.

Bernie is an amiable old man. (Even the wild swans took to him, right?) The lines on his face reflect a happy human being.

Not only did he impart valuable ‘swan wisdom’ but also taught me how to identify the variety of birds residing in the pond. More importantly, Bernie gave my photos more meaning.

I have been to this pond several times but today was a chance encounter with a man who has a genuinely good heart. Indeed this was a lucky day!  I know I will see Bernie again one of these days. I drove away with a smile.

Here is The second story in one day.

Slow But Sure

Catapult

Isn’t it somewhat scary being catapulted to the top or to sudden success?  in our careers,  in our wealth or in any situation?
The unexpected jolt can cause us to lose our grip. Consequently, a faster and uncontrollable downfall!
Wouldn’t you rather work and learn your way slowly but surely towards your goals? I believe that doing so will give one the ample time to hone the skills needed to reach them. We ought to take the steps and avoid being catapulted to the top by taking the lift. No shortcuts.

Catapulted into marriage? Nah. Don’t rush. Get to know that someone you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. Regrets come last.

Catapulted to an idea or a belief? Think! Breathe! Keep calm. Your opinion matters. Make a choice. You don’t need to conform.

In My Arms (A daughter’s wish)

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Holding my mother’s hand

In my arms
I wish she'd be
But I reach out,
Only a shadow I see

I am not void of rue
I ache to hold you
Steady and safe
Never out of sight

Time must turn back!
That I may cease to pine
For one who was mine
Her love eternal and pure

As night faded away
So did she
In her frailty
She let go

In her arms,
I breathed my first
In my arms
She breathed her last.


In Her Arms (A mother’s love)

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In her arms
I lay
For the very first time
that day

Safely entwined
Lovingly cradled
To her bosom
My life and my home
In her steadfast arms
A constant haven of warmth
Ever the sturdy pillars
Which held me to endure

I yearn and I plea
Where else would I be?
In her arms, now a dream
Gone forever now for real.

			

My Family Reunion

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Where? Pls follow the sign

It’s the dry season in this tropical part of the world. At this time, monsoon rains are raging somewhere. Schools (except some universities) are on holiday, too. What could be a more ideal time to hold a family reunion than now.  Therefore, you’ll find that in the Cordillera Region of the Philippines, a lot of Igorot clans organise such an important event during the months of April and May.

there is more to this than meets the eye

It should be a massive gathering for this Kankanaey clan that I proudly belong to. I am grateful to those who have painstakingly put this family tree together, which I’m sure took some years of research. I am now aware of my definite place within six sub-clans.
The sixth family reunion was held just a few days ago where it all started: Balakbak, Kapangan, Benguet in the Philippines. I am emotional as I write this because I wasn’t there. The one and only clan reunion I have ever been to was the fifth. It was a year ago when I flew halfway ’round the globe and took a grueling 10-hour road trip just to be there. I may have been half-asleep but immensely glad and proud that I made it.

Hometown Fortress, Dakiwagan mountain

Surrounded by the Hometown Fortress, my family danced, ate, chatted and took photos together. Just like last year but with more memories to look back to.

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2017

I  have no excuses for not being a regular attendee to my family reunions. But like many other traditions, it should not be allowed to die out. The sad fact though is that a lot of us either live far away or lead busy working lives in the city. So a big kudos to those who make it and try to keep the tradition afloat.

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2016

My family is important to me. Blood is the tie that that binds us. Reunions make the tie unbreakable.

Let’s Hope She’s Not the Last

Apo Whang-od continues to catch the attention of not only the locals but the international community as well. She may not even be aware that her extraordinary story has reached way beyond borders.

She leads a simple life in a remote area of the Philippines and her story now extends to her roots, the Butbut tribe of Buscalan.

Many visitors found the long journey to see and experience her hand-tattooing skills totally worthwhile.