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  • Do you know that

    If all your life you have always aspired and you think the one on top is no good, you must think again. Maybe you are no better. Or maybe you look worse!.. Or, why not think God. You're good but he loves you. You could end up that egotist stooge you hate in the mirror.
  • A small thief and a big thief are the same. They are both thieves... Uh uh, OK, we have a small thief and a big thief - they are not exactly the same... size.
  • People don't know good until they have seen bad, or they don't know bad, did not have any idea about bad, until they've seen good. Before all them could be hollow strings of words. [Tumen's doctrine]
  • Gagged people can sometimes be as dangerous as the non-reasonable. [Right of Reply]
  • One thing is always better than nothing. [When hope is gone; Kapit sa patalim.]
  • There will always be something better or advanced than the thing. [Law of Dialectic]
  • Putting down good or perceived good you lose. If good puts you down you lose as well. Try to be good. [Politics and propaganda]
  • Tyranny and rape belong to the same set of mind. They believe and look at themselves as too good.
  • When a person has lost credibility the best thing for him is to stop issuing statements because politically he has already lost any and all arguments. [Everything to a person - Integrity]
  • If truth can bring you down you must be stood on weak or false ground. If lie can bring you down then you must be stood on worse than scum!
  • Have you ever thought

    "True" church or true religion is a squabble between theists. Whatever it is people believe in must be of no problem to God. I bet He can speak very well the language of any man - any creature, actually. [A Universal God]
  • A man's gain may be another man's loss. A man's happiness may be another man's woe. A man's ease may be another man's sacrifice and misery.[Expropriation/Profiteering/Bureaucrat capitalism/Government corruption]
  • To err is human. That’s why it is not good habit to drop God’s name just to drive the self. It might be standing stinking shit aside Him. [Cashing-in on the gullible]

  • Man has sometimes relegated God to a mule. Religion and State need to separate. [Religions in politics]
  • Heroes are remembered for their greatness. The bad sides of them are all in the hidden files and folders. Villains are the other way around. Nobody is perfect.
  • Except for being a figure of speech, nothing is really absolute.
  • Some people are hard headed. They cannot be told once. Well, try and try again, who knows. [Big names that flopped in politics]

Trick or Threat?

Halloween just went. In the Philippines, which is predominantly Roman Catholic, yesterday in the calendar was All Souls Day. Every Filipino family, or at least member, has been to the cemetery to visit the dead ones. Every Town, village and locality has a Fiesta day.  This is Filipino tradition, Hispanic in origin. Filipinos brought or extended festival to the cemeteries.  Halloween as fiesta for all cemeteries has now become national tradition of Filipinos. Because of complaints, many cemeteries have banned liquor and music by late generation, though. Marginalized indigenous Filipinos do not have Halloween season. After sending the dead off, Indigenous Filipinos simply regard burial grounds as all-time reverend.

Philippine Halloween Celebration is November 1 and 2, which are All Saints day and All Souls day respectively. In Hiligaynon, All Souls day is translated Tigkalalag or Tagkalalag [root Kalag, to unintangle/departed] translated: time of, for spirit, soul, or ghost. In Pilipino, the national language, the day is called Araw ng mga kaluluwa – literally Day of the spirits/souls/ghosts, and also Araw ng mga patay or Day of the departed /dead. Another word for  All  Souls day is Undas, whatever that word actually means as nobody can tell the origin and meaning.

The season is one of the heaviest in term of  human traffic,  of people going to and from urban centers and the provinces.

All soul’s day celebration is a mix of old tribal and Church customs thrown into one. Old Malay custom in the celebration, for example, is preparation of delicacies, mostly sweetened rice preparations, that is or are offered to the dead. Offering is usually done in some quiet corner of the house or in cemeteries. Originally, offering of food is done where spirit is or are believed to be, of no specific time or special day.

Burning of candles for offering is Church influence. Urban Filipinos have developed a weird practice of burning candles in front of homes and in sidewalks on All Souls day. Here in Payatas, many homes had it and everybody now is doing it. There was nothing like that in the place some ten or fifteen years ago. I guess many Filipinos who have migrated to urban areas have no opportunity to visit their dead because of social and or financial constraints, so they expressed it in, around the homes, and in the streets.

We do have western Trick or Treat that has gotten into our culture. I first encountered this in Marikina some twenty five years ago. I opened the door surprised to see some kids in ridiculous costumes demanding candies! I could not give them some sticky rice cake we did have in the house so I gave them the go-away-from-here threat 🙂

And, yes, Floral offerings. I remember, flowers used to be daily decoration of homes, schools, offices, churches.  It is also given to special people. Philippine cemeteries are now full of them on All Souls day. A very lucrative business during the celebration. Flowers for the loved ones that’s how it is. The influence is western and modern in the country.

What a week. I mean it’s all been scary ghosts and Para normal movies dished out in TV everywhere I switched. I had settled for Flatliners starring Keifer Sutherland, Julia Roberts and other familiar faces I know I can tell when I see their names flashed again.

It’s one movie I’ve seen before, actually, that I decided to see again because I could not remember very well what it was all about. The movie is about a group of medical students who secretly experimented with death experience. They took turns experiencing being dead. Death as defined by the movie is cessation of breathing, heart beat, and electrical activities in the body, as in real dead. By turns they put one of them to total sleep, or dead. Then the subject is stimulated back to life when it was at the limit where they can be brought back.

What the film showed of people while they were in their dead moments can never be real. What the subjects told after they were resurrected was their story, their nightmares, their Imaginations. Our characters were there dead on the experiment table. They were there being watched by their live peers ready to revive them when it is time. Subjects were there at the table all the time. That they were going places and meeting people while their body lay dead is but a dream and cannot be real. I guess nobody can really tell or impart what goes when a person has gone dead.

Now, that reminds me about nightmares. Nightmare, from people who have experienced them, is dream, scary dream, a product of  the mind. Most people translate the word nightmare to Bangungot. Bangungot and nightmare are not the same. They may have similarities. Nightmare in Hiligaynon is Daman, scary dream, like when a person wakes up screaming running away from something not there.

I have experienced nightmares in my boyhood. I can no longer recall most of them except that they were usually associated with scary folklore, or dreams near those I saw  in scary movies. From the experiences, I have learned ability to re-awaken myself. Like, ‘hey, I don’t like this; this is a dream’ so, I woke up. I have only one unforgettable  nightmare. It was nothing to do with  the metaphysical or supernatural world. Whew! I woke up really panting and to remember the nightmare all these past 25 years. What about? I was with wife and three toddlers in some crowded city street I did not know where.  Suddenly they were not with me. I ran everywhere looking for them and asking strangers if they knew. I lost them! thanks God it’s just a dream.

Bangungot or Hupa the Killer Disease

People have died in their sleep.  That’s  Bangungot. It’s known as Hupa in Hiligaynon.  Bangungot is also a Hiligaynon word. In there, bangungot and hupa are not the same. Bangungot in Hiligaynon means asphyxia or near-asphyxia  like when one has a severe case of nasal congestion. Hupa or calm after [storm, rage, etc] is one major killer of Filipinos. I believe it killed more than many people think. The figure is around half of all natural deaths in the community where I have lived since 1984. Old people dying make no wonder. Young healthy people suddenly dead bring out many stirs.

The young actor Rico Yan died, as medico legal said, something of disorder of the pancreas during his sleep. A taxi driver neighbor died, blood oozing out his mouth and nose, while taking a short nap at a parking lot. He was diagnosed a cardiac arrest. Another neighbor living next door could not be awakened one morning. He was breathing but pale except for his lips that had darkened. Hospital declared him clinically dead of stroke. Yet another was dismissed by people as caused by his drinking habit and for going to bed drunk. Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson might not be different from them.

Bangungot is something I think people know little about because apparently most victims of bangungot did not live to tell the experience. I have been searching for survivors but I saw only people who apparently say things that they have heard and not out of experience. There must be survivors or there won’t be many stories. Some of the stories are in fact very old like the folklore about the Aswang that I think is a product of bangungot. Bangungot is something physical and real but perceptions and imaginations, which are unreal, might have been added to them by survivors. I suspect some writers of scary movies have gone through the experience.

I happen to be one survivor. It first happened when I was around eighteen. The Tiktik is real. It is a nocturnal flying creature nobody can tell the look, but makes a sound that gave it its name. [It probably is a kind of bat, or irregular sound made by some of them] That when there is a Tiktik there is an Aswang or evil being not far behind. I was a stranger in a place. A nice couple had said that it was safe if I slept inside the house. People had died in the locality killed by aswang, they said. I belong to the generation that no longer believes in many old tales. In some places and times, I could have laughed the matter off as I always did. In fact earlier that evening I did.

A tiktik did make a pass later that night. It triggered bangungot in me. It must have been instinctive like, ‘hey, wake up, you have an appointment and you’re already late!’ only it said like ‘hey, danger around!’

Then I realized I could not move. I tried to scream for help but I realized I had no control. Odom or damned by evil spirit is what the folklore has said about that. I have no control of my body except perhaps my eyelids. Vision was hazy but yes, there was some control because I was able to shut any light coming in. It must have been instinctive not to want to see things. Consciousness, yes, which was exactly why it was most scary. I was in panic. I did not only feel my heartbeats, I thought I heard my heart pounding very fast and hard. There was loud ringing in my ears like a lingering aftershock of a powerful firecracker exploded too close . I suppose it was caused by sudden and extreme blood pressure. That the aswang was there and it was staring down at me [in the manner of the alien getting the smell of helpless Segourney Weaver] well, I did imagine it. I had almost felt the presence of some supernatural being. However, nothing touched me. I heard nothing except the snore of my sleeping companion, as I was not alone. I did not see a thing because vision was shut.

Have you ever tried lifting a truck? At least the truck lifted a little. The efforts, the emotion, the feeling, while under bangungot were more than that. All efforts are useless. I could have blown my heart attempting to move a finger or a toe. [How fast can the human heart go? Probably any figure is short. They are records from live subjects and do not include heartbeats that blew organs and killed people. I could have blown a lung, an ear, a pancreas, a brain cell, some weakest link, lucky I did not. Few more bouts happened in the months that followed. And then for nearly two decades I had none of them until it kept recurring again. About a dozen times in all, maybe, because it never came to me to record the count. Latest occurrence was about 9 years ago.

I remember the second experience was scary absurd, funny you might say. It was the Tiktik again! I thought I saw a human silhouette as my shutters opened that by second instinct I also closed as fast. “You cannot touch me, devil!” is all I can say in myself. This time I really felt it breathed down on my face. Nevertheless, no, I felt my hand was lifted and placed on its head! “No, you are not real, devil! This is a dream! I am sick! It is just my mind playing against myself! I have a disorder!”

Back to reality later, everything must have been a dream. My mind must have been mixed up or confused between reality and imaginations.

The latest was most interesting. It settled the last lingering doubts whether consciousness is real or not. It happened in daytime and not in the stillness of the nights when they usually occurred. Children were yelling and laughing in the street while I was in it. There was nothing to do but listened to them most of the time. They were there all right when I regained myself. I also happened to be facing where the wall clock was so I noted the time was not far different. The tiktik and the aswang were finished and gone long time ago. I think bangungot is too complicated to explain in brief.

To explain it in near medico terms, by some cause I must have been through temporary comatose state. A near death situation. Mind is helpless over the body. They have always been scary. Every time always seemed the end. One may regain oneself or one may not. In my experience, things went like these: 1 Struggle 2 Resignation 3 Calm 4 Blank [no idea how long or brief] 5 wake up [automatic]. In later experiences, struggle has been done away. That leaves 1 Resignation 2 Calm 3 Blank 4 either wake up, or back to normal sleep to summarize the experience later. I guess sad will be when blankness turns to final sleep. For most Bangungot cases, I suppose there were only struggle that ended in permanent sleep.

How does one regain the self in a very helpless situation? You cannot. You just regained. I guess I was lucky my mind was equipped enough to overcome the situation especially the first time it happened. The mind is all you have since body cannot be willed in such situation. Thinking is all the mind can do. And when it is clear that there is no way, mind started to wish. Wishing is praying, and praying is wishing… helpless resignation.

As taught by bangungot, prayers that I learned when I was a kid are mostly trash. Since then, I have archived almost all in some dark corner of my mind. Praying for Saint Cory will not help. Maybe, impromptu and direct ones are better. There is only one prayer valid at the end of the road that I will not even change a word. For me, guess what, it is the only prayer that makes sense. The Credo left only one sentence intact and valid. Well, what worked for one may not work for all, vice versa. The Absolute of people is variable, so mine here are no rules.

Bangungot is like driving a car to the max with its clutch down or its gears in neutral. Let us put it another way. Bangungot is as if my CPU just hung. I happened to be equipped with automatic restart or reboot. On second thought, maybe I was not. Just some finger simply decided to push Restart button for me and I was not time for the junk yard. 🙂

related post: [Mind over body]

The Omen of the Broken Glass

The place was called Barrio Baboy. I wondered how the place got its name which I did not like. Baboy literally means Pig. The place is known today as Barangay San Jose in Bayawan , Negros Oriental, just across its border with Negros Occidental.

The year was 1974. How I came to be in the place was a long story. I was staying with one family that lived at the village’s outskirt. Like everyone else in the village, Joaquin the man of the family was a farmer for a sideline. I mean, unlike most farmers, it seemed he spent most of his time where there was fiesta and cockfighting. You see, he was a professional gambler. He was good at playing cards and at fitting knives in cockfights.

Joaquin was also a well known merko, or a surhuano that we would call witchdoctor. He used to invite me along whenever he was asked by folks to do some work. Work was driving away evil spirits and or to appease some unseen tagalugar or resident deities. I am not superstitious but I must admit that sometimes I got carried away. Like when I felt my hairs standing while observing his rituals. I liked the times. No, not the dancing nor the chanting, or the rituals that he performed while everybody solemnly observed but I mean the part that came after. You see a chicken, or a goat, or a pig was needed and slaughtered each time. Cooked foods [and sometimes animal blood] were offered to spirits. It also meant a hearty meal after everything.

I used to be with another family when I first came to the place. I stayed under the roof of a man named Carlos. Carlos belonged to a clan that dominated politics in the locality. There were his cousins Kulafo and his brother Hector who both served in the Barrio council. The Barrio Kapitan or village chief was Kulafo’s father-in-law of course. I was known in the village as one of their relatives who had come to stay for the upcoming harvest season. But I never was related to them, which again was another long story.

Kulafo reminded me of movies about pirates. He had one eye blind and patched. Kulafu and I acted like real cousins. He made me sort of his personal clerk and secretary, or an official sidekick, which I did not really mind. I enjoyed the times actually. He was barely literate but surely it was not problem with his constituents. You see, most of the villagers happened to be no-read-no-write. I knew nothing about legal phrases but Kulafu did. He could not scrawl as well as me, he explained. So, I did the writings for him while he dictated. Like when people wanted to swap say cow for clearing, or horse for cow, and they demanded that the transaction be put in writing. Ah, spoken words with or without witnesses used to be honorable if not solemn but I guess time was changing. Anyway, there was always a par – a small bottle of cheap rum paired with cola – and nothing else for fee after each transaction. And everybody always parted happy at what they’ve got.

Day in Barrio Baboy started about four early in the morning. People did not have time pieces nor looked at them. But as if by precise clockwork the place just stirred to life at the start of day. There could be occasional clinking of something like a sound from a kettle or a plow being fixed, or a dog barking, a baby or a toddler crying for attention, a transistor radio coming to life; anything by man, near or far. You see, in the serene countryside, a twig broken or even the wind can be heard. Farmers stirred very early for work. Carabaos can be stubborn when the sun is up and they’d better be in their mud pools, cooling it off when the sun has become hot.Anyway, that’s how I knew it was around 4:00 AM. Bedtime usually came early as there was no electricity. No wonder country folks produced so many babies!

I always started my day by rolling a cigarette and a good smoke. Next, would be going to the kapehan of an old woman called Charing who brewed delicious coffee. Most farmers had something hot in their kitchen, brewed burnt rice if there was no coffee, but I guess people just loved to socialize and to gossip. There would be Kulafu and Hector among the patrons. There would be Marcial, the ambitious farmer, who acted as pastor for the local Iglesia Ni Kristo since their sect did not have one in the place. But religion was never coffee shop topic. You see, Kulafu was Seventh Day Adventist but as far as I knew, not even his father-in-law who was their pastor had discussed religion with him outside their place of worship.

There was George, brother-in-law of Joaquin, who lived with the couple. George and I were in the same age bracket, and both single, we easily became friends. And then there would be the two public school teachers after they must have jumped out of their pajamas. [Filipino farmers usually slept in their day’s attires.] The one with a wider forehead was rumored to be lesbian. I felt some dislike for her. Maybe it was the hostile look that I sometimes caught in her face.Or maybe it was because the other one looked good and she has a nice smile. They were living together in one small hut, all for themselves, and… maybe… umm, naughty me. Or maybe this other one was not at all beautiful but maidens in the place usually marry by fifteen or sixteen. You’ve got to spot a wife when she was ten or twelve in such a place, or you won’t catch any. Maidens were rare and maybe I was just lonely. But I learned that this other teacher was married so, although everyone became familiar with everybody else, we never introduced. Anyway, at the end of coffee Charing was always there with her tattered notebook since it was mostly IOUs to be paid in grains at harvest time.

George’s older sister Maria, the wife of Joaquin, was pregnant. There must have been five children in the family; the eldest was barely in her teen. Maria was not fine. I mean, it was gossiped in the village that she occasionally bled. And everybody blamed it to her konsumesyon and frequent quarrels with Joaquin who was not a violent person at all. And George was not really well, or should I say was hostile, to Joaquin. Maybe it was because George did most farming while Joaquin was always gambling. One time Maria confided to me that her greatest worry was if violence erupted between the two men. She invited me to stay with them always because she saw George was somehow close to me and I could be of help between the two men. I was good with both men. I guess I had appeared a drifter, that I was in fact, who was living with any of my “relatives” in the village. Anyway, before I knew it I was already living with Joaquin as part of his family. All went well in the family.

Harvest season came and went by, and Maria was expecting a baby. Joaquin’s elder sister, a hilot or traditional midwife-abortionist, came to live with them. One day, probably feeling heavy moving around, Maria requested me for a glass of water. The house was on stilt that took a few treads down to the dirty kitchen where water was kept. Casually I got what she asked.

I won’t forget the exact moment her fingers touched the glass that I handed. It felt to me like the glass exploded! The glass’ bottom with all its content suddenly fell away. It felt to me like somebody had shot at it. I have experience with bullets. They snapped or whined first before you heard them fired. [That’s when you knew it was meant your way but just missed.] Maria’s face was pale when I looked at her. We were both speechless for a moment. It was bad omen she finally muttered that she kept repeating. I tried to reassure her that it was nothing. Like, maybe the glass was used with hot water before and that it had probably developed a crack unnoticed.

Alone by myself, I was thinking maybe the glass indeed had a crack but why at the exact moment? I was never superstitious like I said. The old saying that a glass that breaks by itself is a bad omen, is a trash. There must be some scientific explanation to it. Like, maybe [the body’s] electrical charges had something to do with it? Or, it must have been pure coincidence and nothing else. The thoughts of it kept nagging me for a while but I came to shake them off in the end. Not for Maria it seemed. I never saw her with a happy face again after that incident.

When Maria’s time to deliver came, I talked George into sleeping somewhere else so we did not bother people in the house. We were with neighbors when we were awakened by wails and cries coming from the house. We rushed over to find Maria lifeless. The baby was there alright, but seemed forgotten. People were grieving over Maria. I noticed the baby did not even have its umbilical cord cut yet. I called everyone’s attention to it. I talked George into taking a little walk and for some fresh air outside. I thought his eyes looked a bit sharp. Outside the house the memory about the glass haunted me again.

Funeral and wake had passed. One day men came to see me. It was nice to shake hands with old comrades again. I must return to my unit. I was in the army. I had been on leave. My leave turned into Awol. I was becoming regarded a renegade. I remember very well the day was December 31. We brought George along with us. [So he and Joaquin did not possibly kill each other…And for Maria, so she rest in peace.]

It was exactly 12:00 midnight, New Year’s Eve, as we reached Hagnaya, Lucotan. Ah, like a fish back in its old familiar sea, it really felt nice. Besides, maybe I needed to refresh myself. And, even in the most far flung Barangays, Filipinos welcome the coming of another year to their life.

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