Thursday, December 1, 2011

Morning Walk, Sunflowers, and Isinay Words Recalled Along Kennon Road

TO WELCOME December, I thought of going out for a walk from our house at Amistad Road to the Kennon Road View Point after having coffee this morning. I brought my camera with me so that I could take pictures of the sunflowers while they are still in their perfect blooming period (that is, not yet obliterated by wilted petals and black seeds), and so that I could record how the world-famous zigzag road looked like in the morning of December 1, 2011.

I also had with me my rattan pasiking and, along with a small plastic bottle of water and my cellphone (that "mylab" insisted I should always carry), I put a small notebook and a ballpen in it so I could jot down some keywords to capture the fleeting thoughts that I knew would surely come as my head would be recharged and made alive by the views and the fresh and mentholated air in this part of Baguio City.

Well then, here are some of the photos and some of the thoughts that came out of that morning exercise:
Sunflowers and pine trees at Amistad, Camp 7, Baguio City (Dec. 1, 2011 photo by charlz castro)
The wild sunflowers you see blooming in Baguio and the rest of the Cordilleras this time of the year may not be as large as the cultured variety, but their beauty plus prolific growth and soothing presence among the endangered pine forests and in other patches of wilderness more than compensate for their size and perceived lack of commercial profitability. Now, I'm strongly suggesting that Baguio's tourism-promoters should consider this "panagbenga" (blooming season) of the sunflowers as a major tourist attraction -- a sort of cherry blossoms -- instead of spending much and courting ridicule to stage another fake-snow along Session Road.

Sunflowers of Camp 7.  (Dec. 1, 2011 photo by charlz castro)

Unjustly named "marapait," the smiling sunflowers accentuate the beauty of well-designed houses and, conversely, camouflage the aesthetically challenged parts of Baguio especially those created by people who don't give a damn to the ecological value of the remaining fragments of pine forests struggling to survive in a congested city. It would do well for construction people, subdivision developers, and landscape architects to leave not only the few remaining pine trees but also these wild and free flowering plants alone.
Wild sunflowers along Bued River. (Dec. 1, 2011 photo by charlz castro)
Come to think of it, the wild sunflowers don't only bring color and brightness to the general landscape of Baguio. They also hide the ugliness of garbage-strewn creeks like Bued, the stream that flows along much of the 38-km stretch of Kennon Road down to the bridge that forms the boundary between Rosario, La Union and Sison, Pangasinan. These wild flowers also stabilize, re-vegetate and bring life (e.g. they feed bees and butterflies) to barren slopes and stream banks, thus significantly helping minimize the silting of streams and breaking the speed let alone filter the dirt of rainwater that would otherwise flow to contribute to the flood-effects of such streams. The picture above gave me an idea for the Abannatan stream and the Benay river of my hometown Dupax: How about growing sunflowers on their sides? Sunflowers would surely make these streams, especially the parts near Dampol, Benay and Marian bridges, more picturesque and soothing to see.

The most scenic part of Kennon Road. (Photo taken Dec. 1, 2011 by charlz castro)
The photo above is admittedly not a perfect shot of the most scenic part of Kennon Road, but this photo might as well represent one of the only photos taken of this part of the road (formerly called the Zigzag Road and Benguet Road) in the morning of the First Day of December in the Year of Our Lord 2011. Note the sunflowers on the left; and on the slope of the mountain on the right. The sunflowers are a very welcome sight along Kennon every year in September to December, and when buses were still allowed to pass through this way, I always opened my window to feast my lowlander's eyes and soul on their beauty. 

By the way, the popular Lion's Head is shown partly covered by a tree in the center of the photo. I shall write a separate blog on this, but little known and even ungratefully ignored by people who should be in the know is that this famous landmark along Kennon was chiselled out of solid rock in 1971 by the Isinay sculptor Anselmo Day-ag of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya. This self-taught artist was the same guy who made the famous bust of the late Ferdinand Marcos along Marcos Highway and other artworks in Pangasinan and at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City.

One of the sentinels of Kennon Road. (Dec. 1, 2011 photo by charlz castro)
"Look, nature-lover, at this twin-stemmed pine tree, now!" would be an alternate caption of this photo. Certainly one of the old yet healthy pine trees along Kennon that have luckily survived typhoons, droughts, road-maintenance people, and the chainsaw/axe of loggers, this tree brings joy not only to morning walkers but also to travelers who look for the finer things in life when they pass by this part of the road.

BESIDE THE POLICE OUTPOST near the Kennon Road View Point, there's this monument ("inaugurated on July 4, 2005") featuring a bust of Lyman W. Kennon, and the first two paragraphs of the inscription beneath it reads this way:

This historic edifice is a labor of love dedicated to Col. Lyman W. Kennon of Rhode Island, United States of America, acclaimed "Builder of Kennon Road," one of the best and greatly admired mountain highways in the world today. It is a tribute to his exemplary leadership, engineering skills and knowledge and excellent understanding of human nature.

Likewise, the monument is a symbol commemorating the centennial anniversary observance of the Benguet Road (1905-2005), later renamed Kennon Road by the Philippine government, after its builder and to acknowledge with respect and gratitude the 4000 multinational work force composed by Americans, Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese, Canadians, Hawaiians, Mexicans, Indians, Hindus, Chileans, Peruvians, Spaniards, Italians, Russians, Germans, French, Portuguese, and Swedes, among others.

Wow! If the nationalities enumerated above were true, and even if they were not all in the plural form, Kennon Road must have indeed be a feat not only of road engineering but also of people management! Reading those lines, I wondered: If this mountain road was built by so large and varied multinational group, how come it has not been nominated as a UNESCO Heritage Site?

I also wondered: Aside from the Isinay-sculpted Lion Head whose chief artist Ansel Day-ag most probably hired trusted workers from Nueva Vizcaya, could it be possible that the Filipinos part of Kennon's road workers included Isinays?

And if there were Isinays among the road-builders of Kennon, which part of Isinay country did they come from? Was it Bambang, Aritao, Dupax, or the then said to also be Isinay country Kayapa? And if there were Isinays in Kennon in 1905, was it possible that they practiced such Isinay ways of catching river fish in the Bued River as pansipit, seyup, batong, lajma, and kunukun? And when they camped along the river, did they also resort to the relatively clean way of sourcing potable water by making tuvu' (bubon in Ilocano) on the teyantaj (riverbank) and used bayongbong (tubong in Ilocano; bamboo tube) to fetch or store water? During the freezing December to February months, did they also resort to tending bonfires for their aniru (keeping warm by the fireside), using as panggonot (kindling material) or even itungu (fuelwood) the seyong (pinewood) that used to freely abound in the area either as live trees or as driftwood? Did they volunteer to hunt laman (deer), bavuy si eyas (wild pig) or pani-i (fruit bat)using their improvised salejap (hunting trap)? And what did they do when they felt meyongngaw (homesick)? Were there Ibaloi/Ibaloy maidens around who they made arug (courtship) to?  

Sunflowers, snippet from TREES, and quinine tree. (Dec. 1, 2011 photo by charlz castro)
AMONG MY LAST shots on this sunflowery day was this one on a sunflower-flanked marker carrying two lines --  A TREE THAT LOOKS AT GOD ALL DAY AND LIFTS HER LEAFY ARMS TO PRAY -- of the grade school poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer. Seen on the left side of the road on the way up to the View Point, a few meters from it (upper right) is a large quinine tree the Ilocano name of which -- dalipawen -- was fittingly used as name of the store under it: DALIPAWEN STORE. 

I think my Isinay field consultant Boni Calacala already told me once the Isinay name for the quinine tree but this time my senior brain couldn't spew it out. I do recall, however, that when the Dupax Subsidiary Nursery was still a favorite picnic area in my hometown, plus or minus its toma (blood-sipping tiny and mosquito-like insects called sepsep in Ilocano; niknik in Tagalog), there was one such tall tree that we called kinina (corruption for quinine) near the nursery gate. (Incidentally, this should be one reason I should visit that place next time I go home this December.)

I could have easily hiked down to the Lion Head that has accentuated the tourism appeal of the century-old Kennon Road as it sat right smack at the "center" of the zigzag point of the road. My camera's battery went low-bat, however, as I was trying to ask what wood was being sawn by the furniture or souvenir makers in a shop that was not there before. So I decided to postpone that morning pleasure for another day. 

But before climbing back up to the sangat (uphill) eco-trail that serves as short cut from this point of Kennon Road to the View Point, I felt nawaw (thirsty) so stopped for a small bottle of ice-cold Coke (for P12) and made small talk with the lady in the store. I used as conversation piece the tree beside her store, saying it was good they chose the tree not only as spot but also as name for their store. The twenty-something lady merely gave this smile that I thought was probably reserved for friendly strangers and not to the workers in the noisy roadside mini-sawmill and furniture-shop down the road. Then the forester in me got up and, saying the tree is called dalipawen in Ilocano and dita in Tagalog, I asked how do Benguet people call it. Again she smiled but this time added the words "Diak ammo ya no ania ti naganna nga agpayso" (Oh my, I also don't know its name). 

I said I'll ask other people soon and, remarking that it's good there is now this short-cut trail, she said it's been there all along but it's only now the View Point people opened it to visitors. Wishing my camera didn't go low-bat and that I bought a bigger bottle of Coke, I next signaled that it was time for me to go. But at the last minute I turned and asked "Ania gayam ti naganmo?" And she said "Nida!" 

And again she smiled -- yes, sweet and refreshing like Coke and morning-pretty like sunflowers!

A Native Son’s Early Lament for the Forest-Rich Dupax of Yesteryears

ONE OF THE little treasures I recently found turning brittle among my junk piles is this Jan-March 1975 issue of the Forestry Digest, A Magazine About Public Appreciation For Forests that used to be published quarterly in the days when the UPLB College of Forestry still benefited from the Republic Act that mandated collection for forest information purposes of 10 centavos per cubic meter of timber extracted from the Philippines’ forests.
The poor little thing already lost its cover but, apart from a couple or so of missing leaves, it was still in readable condition and was fortunate to have escaped nibbling by cockroaches, silverfish, and termite that have become the nemesis of a significant portion of my magazine collections (including Plain Truth, Focus Philippines, Asia Philippines Leader, Bannawag, Jingle Songbook, Unasylva, Time, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, and Philippines Free Press).
I would have left the copy among my now-better-sorted junk of printed materials, to again fight for life until such a time that I would do another dusting and sorting. But when I leafed through its yellowing pages, I found the magazine carried an essay that I wrote when I was yet a struggling and overstaying student at the College of Forestry. Here’s a snapshot of the title page of that essay:

FORESTRY DIGEST (Jan-March 1975)
 Now there are at least four reasons why this old essay should merit a spot in this Blogsite:
1) It was an essay about Dupax when it was still a biodiversity-rich Isinay country.
2) It was the essay that earned me P80 from Focus Philippines, the highest I got paid from that magazine considering that my “Witchery at Salinas Salt Spring” bagged me P60 while my “What’s Up There on the Mountain?” earned P40.
3) It was the essay that most probably qualified me to get an invitation from Kerima Polotan, the Editor-in-Chief, to attend the 1974 Focus Philippines Literary Awards where this shy and barriotic boy from Dupax taking up Forestry at UP at least sat for an hour with other writers (including  the then boyish Cebuano poet Vicente Bandillo) at the Heroes Hall of the then Marcos-occupied Malacañang .
4) It was the essay that made me look 10-feet taller to my Uncle Ado^ (the perennial Dupax town fiesta emcee and declaimer Dominador Boada Sr.) when he read it in the Forestry Digest that I specifically asked the Forestry Digest’s circulation people to mail to him.
5) It was the essay that made Papa feel bad when he read it in the Focus Philippines that was sent as a complementary subscription for public elementary schools and so, one time I went home for the semestral break, he reprimanded me with these words: “Saanmo nga ibabain ti ilim!” (Don’t put down your own town).

Here’s a transcription of that essay:

By Charles P. Castro

(Originally published in the August 10, 1974 issue of FOCUS Philippines; reprinted with permission.)

There was a time
when meadows, grove, and stream
the earth, and every common sight
to me did seem appareled in celestial light,
the glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore –
turn whereso’er I may by night and day,
the things which I have seen
I now can see no more.
--William Wordsworth

THERE IS ALWAYS, for me, an intense feeling of envy at sight of communities  that have preserved the pristine richness and beauty of their valleys, streams, and hills despite the incessant onslaughts of civilization so-called. How lucky their inhabitants are to have still much of nature to pasture their imaginations with, and sanctuaries too in which to seek solace when life’s seas go rough and seemingly unnavigable.
I covet Los Baños, Laguna, for example, because of Mount Makiling. The climate there would not now be so friendly and the University of the Philippines campus there would not now be so appealing as a place of study had the mountain been stripped of its lush, multi-species flora.
I also envy Baco, Oriental Mindoro, where one would ordinarily dismiss as myth the delightful tales of farmers about deer, wild pig, and occasional tamaraws invading their ricefields had the mighty Mount Halcon been vegetated only with cogon and talahib.
In like manner, Lake Bulusan in Sorsogon and the fishing creeks of Maddela, Quirino, would not be so serene and inviting now – even extracting in one the wish that he were as courageous and free as Henry David Thoreau to get away from it all – if today their lake shores and riverbanks were bare of trees, ferns, lianas, and other plant life.
I suffer indeed at the mere recollection of how once upon a time my hometown Dupax had been sylvan and we natives enjoyed the blessings of undisturbed forests. But, just like many an erstwhile wooded locality, flock after flock of ruthless lumbermen came like honeybees to our town and their machines ravaged the greenness and tranquility of our dales and hills.

THERE WERE at one time in Dupax alone three logging concessions and the rivers we used to go swimming and spearfishing in soon enough became muddied by the provisional roads they built. This invasion also paved way for instant kaingins, a ravenous method of agriculture that seemed to be the specialty not only of the immigrants from the Ilocos and the mountain provinces but also those of the Visayas, many of whom looked as though they were integral parts of the logging trucks and sawmills.
We had local forest officers at the time, it’s true. However, very much like you would conjure during the Old Society when one rings the word politician, many of them were exactly that: pot-bellied, drink-loving, cockfight afficionados. They would not be disturbed in their god-fathering chores except when tipped of beautiful narra lumber drying under a poor farmer’s hut, in which case they would then hustle to the place, for is it not that narra makes excellent sala sets?
Like what most people react to poetry, these forest officers appeared ignorant to the subtlety and beauty of form that would endure beyond tomorrow. Their brand of forestry, it seems to me now, was that all the commercial trees in the woods were to be toppled and scraped off, not only to be sold to Manila, but also to make the rich soil under their boughs ready for planting to upland rice, squash, ginger, and camote. And then ultimately the cleared areas would be classified as alienable and disposable, titled or become leased as pastureland by some hawks in the bureaucracy.
Reforestation? Oh well, beyond the hypocrisy and ningas-kugon of it all, no hand was lifted seriously for that. Only words were said – perfunctorily. On Arbor Day, for instance, local officials would be asked to speak sentimentally about love of the soil and the birds and the bees and the trees that give us fruits to eat and branches to make slingshots with – while the cameras click and the school children file listlessly and scratching in the sun. It would be noon when all is said and done and the children would next be herded to weed and water gumamela hedges, coffee plants and bougainvilleas on the schoolyard while their mentors gossip under the mango trees.
A few hills were decked out once with Benguet pine. But when someone started calling the species “Christmas trees,” sure enough every cold December hence you would see the pines wilting among the Yuletide decorations of certain houses connected to reforestation people. Then one summer the fire from an adjoining kaingin got unguarded, and turned the green pine hills to brown.
Now some people have caught up with the fever again. This time it is kasoy, planted on the spot where the floods that in August carry away the wooded bridge linking the town to the rest of Nueva Vizcaya were thought to come from. If the seedlings will become climbable trees for tomorrow, only the carabaos that graze on the reforestation area would know.
What one is inclined to believe is that there should be no surreptitious reforestation activities such as are done now were reservations made at the outset for forests to co-exist with civilization.

TO THINK OF IT, just a little over a decade ago there was still more than enough place to go to where one, as Donald Culross Peattie says, “does not live as we live, restless and running, panting after flesh, and even in sleep tossing with fears.” The now scarred and artless hills were then blue-green and, oh, how reassuring they seemed to be then, palpitating with verdant vegetation and friendly wildlife!
I could still perch on my grandfather’s shoulders then and my memories of those green and untainted days include excursions with him to robust corn and tobacco fields, where wild chicken and monkeys chased one another. We had a hut in the field from where we could hear myriad of forest voices from sunup to sundown, such as the bleating of a lost fawn, the forlorn love call of the alimuken (wild dove), the bellowing of the tariktik hornbill, the chiseling of the tagtaga (woodpecker), and the shrill "kutkutak" of the jungle chicken.
The streams then were not yet violated by tin cans, dead cats, grease, and effluvia from sawmills. I remember I used to have good times fishing with Grandfather, choosing our day’s catch from among such river denizens as the dalag, the paltat, the ar-aro, the igat, and the tilapia. Nowadays you can consider yourself lucky if you could net even a single finger-sized mudfish in the streams and ponds where fish used to be only a hook-and-line away. The loss of these blessings was a consequence not so much of the additional mouths to feed as of the drying up of the springs and streams in summer.
As for floods, it’s true we had them once in a while but not as often, ferocious, and unpredictable as the deluge we now get as a consequence of forest despoliation. In fact, when I was little, inundations were sort of welcome break from routine as they brought bigger and better catches for the bamboo fish-traps called bobo and asar that the barrio folk used to collectively build and set against the stream current. These days such fishing contraptions are considered obsolete in our place, as almost  all other methods of catching fish are beginning to be useless in a now fish-poor river.
The forest loss also led to the obsolescence of certain pastime and skills. For instance, my uncles in the barrio used to weave rattan hammocks (indayon) and baskets especially when the rains came and rice planting was done. Such activity has been severely curtailed because one must hike from dawn to noon these days to get to where the well-seasoned uway (rattan) and nito are. In the old days, one didn’t have to hike too far up in the hills to get materials needed, the same way we didn’t have to go and intrude in Ilongot hunting territory to gather firewood, forest fern and palm shoots.
And, oh yes, it was not yet a miracle then to have venison (deer meat) or meat from wild pigs on our dining table in that not so long ago forest-abundant time. Using only low-caliber guns, pit traps, or a pack of dogs, it was not uncommon for hunters then to come home from the hills with a sack full of bush meat and pairs of deer antlers after only a couple of days’ sojourn in the wilderness.
Today, with the wide stretches of summery woods gone, I bet if you can get back in a year’s stalking of wild quarry your money’s worth for an air-rifle. For even the formerly ignored musang (civet cat), banyas (monitor lizard), and paniki (fruit bat) are hard to find now.
The pushing away of the forest has made these erstwhile common wildlife as rare now as the kalaw (hornbill), kilyawan (oriole), balug (wild pigeon), papa (wild mallard), abuyo (jungle fowl), and other big birds that were in my boyhood targets for our slingshots.

I HAVE YET TO SEARCH for a special someone to mother my progeny as I write this. But this early I could just imagine the questions my would-be kids would besiege me with in the future: “How does a kalaw look like, father? How does the meat of the animal owning horns like that of the hat-rack taste? And why does lolo love his old rattan sala set so much and not replace it with modern ones?”
Such questions only pertain to the tangible aspects of forests, true. Yet I worry how I’m going to answer them as I myself wonder now if I shall ever get to taste sweet and free venison again; wonder too when I will see the glint of the sun on the crimson bill of the kalaw, not as it is refurbished, held captive, and tortured in cages, or exhibited in stuffed-bird parlors, but up there, happy and free, in the trees.
In like manner, I worry how to hide from my children-to-be the fact that somewhere, sometime in my life, I have been party to the debauchery, and that I have had a hand also at sinfully laying down the blade to trees in the woods of our town which have survived years, nay, centuries, of wind and rain and drought events.
I wonder too if I shall ever see the forest-dwelling Ilongots again, including  the maiden Martina who used to give me clusters of littuko (rattan fruits) each time they would come down from the mountains to my grandparents’ barrio to barter their beautifully crafted baskets and their stocks of deer hide, rattan, and dried meat of ugsa (deer), alingo (wild pig) and ikan (a fish now extinct in our rivers) with our rice, salt, sugar, tobacco, bolos, puppies, and blankets.
Looking back on that era, what a friendly relation the Ilongots and Dupax residents had then! But the bonds were cut one day when the fire trees were in bloom and the news echoed that two families of kaingineros were beheaded in the vicinity of one of the sawmills upstream.
My townmates generally believed then that maybe some Ilongot maid was to be married and that she must have been very beautiful for the tribe to require her suitors to slice off  more than a dozen Christian heads. But when the incident were repeated regardless of whether the firetrees flowered or not, not a few people began to speculate that the headhunting was in due retaliation for the tribe's being robbed of what used to be their paradise.

WELL, THEY CALL IT progress. If losing forests and suffering the consequences is progress, I don’t know what that word means.
It would have been all right if the despoliation resulted in better roads and bridges, in more rice and livelihood, in happier and healthier people. But Dupax has nothing else to show for the exploitation of its forest riches. We still have no banks, no telephone lines, no magazine stands, no bakeries, no movie houses, not even a kilometer of concrete road to justify the destruction of the forests.
Moreover, the part of town where I live becomes an island with just a little downpour, a fact that has sent not a few candidates for mayor, governor, and congressmen to office just by their promise to reinstate the fallen bridge at Benay River connecting us to the rest of civilization.
You may call it an act of treachery on my part, but our town, once reputed to be the most wooded in Nueva Vizcaya, can only boast now of deplorably bald and bird-less mountains, vast but unproductive cogonal lands, and rivers that turn dry in summer but in the rainy season resurge and run wild with flood waters to devour and carry away crops, paddies, lives, and dreams.
That is probably why I normally don't invite vacationing friends to come to Dupax. And if ever I get around to raising a family and have the means, with my hometown’s forests gone, I’m thinking of settling down in other places – perhaps like Palawan – where all sorts of wildlife are said to be still peacefully sharing forest trails with humanity. #

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My First Published Article Was On The Salinas Salt Spring

Funny how serendipity works. I've been trying to put some order these past few days to the mountains of books, magazines, newspaper clippings, xeroxed materials, photographs, notes, and other souvenirs of the past that I was able to keep since high school. And among the items I was able to salvage from further attack by dust, humidity, cockroaches, termites, and silverfish in the basement of our house was a folder of clippings and photo copies of some of my earliest published articles.

Among the standouts in the file was the very first article that I ever wrote and got published -- one on the Salinas Salt Spring that included the legend of how the grief of a mountain maiden named Yumina over the treacherous killing of her lover Gumined was rewarded by the gods with the creation of a pearly white hill that for ages and ages gushed forth with salty water believed to be Yumina's tears.

While re-living the wondrous emotions I felt the first time I saw my piece on page 101 of the January 1, 1968 issue of the Ilocano magazine Bannawag, I thought of finding the original copy that gave me my "beginner's luck" as a writer. Here, I took a photo of both the magazine's cover and the page where my piece was:

Cover of the January 1, 1968 issue of BANNAWAG on the left; my Salinas article on the right.

I wrote the piece on pad paper when I was in my senior year at St. Mary's High School in Dupax and mailed it through Uncle Kusep (Jose Castro) who was then working at the Municipal Hall in Malasin where the post office was (there was only one Dupax then).

You may say I probably made history not only at St. Mary's but also in Dupax when that piece came out. For as far as I know, I was the only one from Dupax at the time who ever broke print in a nationally circulated publication. And to think that I was only 16 at the time.

Okay, here's a close-up shot of the article:

This piece was my first writing to see print. Probably it was also the first from Dupax to ever get published in a magazine circulated not only in the Philippines but also among Ilocanos in California and Hawaii.

For those who need magnifying lens to read it, don't worry. Here's a faithful transcription of the text:

Tao, Lugar, Pasamak

St. Mary's High School
Dupax, Nueva Vizcaya

Salinas Salt Spring

MAKUNKUNA A TI ubbog ti asin idiay Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya ti maysa kadagiti sangagasut ket maysa a pagdidinnamagan a buya ditoy lubong. Kas makitayo iti ladawan, nakaaramiden daytoy nga ubbog iti dakkel a turod ti asin; agarup a sangagasut a kadapan ti kangatona. No kinapintas ti pagsasaritaan, kapintasan ngatan iti kunak.

Kadakami a taga-Nueva Vizcaya, ti Salinas Salt Spring ti kapintasanen a buya. Ta kas itay kunadan, "There's no place like home." Nupay pangadayuen (agarup sangapulo ket dua a kilometro manipud iti Central Bambang), pagaayatmi pay laeng a mapan pagpipiknikan aglalo no iti tiempo ti kalgaw.

Malaksid iti kasla perlas a kinapudaw ti galpang, adu pay dagiti napipintas a buya iti lawlaw ti Salinas Salt Spring. Masarakan ditoy dagiti nadumaduma a kita ti kayo a kas iti saleng. Nalamiis kem makapabang-ar ti puyupoy ti angin.

Ania ti pakasaritaan ti Salinas Salt Spring? Kasano ti ilulutuadna?

Idi kano un-unana a panawen, adda maysa a prinsesa a kasla birhen ti kinapusaksakna. Yumina ti nagan daytoy a prinsesa, anak ti maysa a datu.

Nagdidinnamagan ti kinapintas ni Prinsesa Yumina. Adu dagiti nagrayo kenkuana. Ngem dua laeng ti kapingetan, da Indawat ken Gumined.

Tapno marisut no siasino ti mangikut iti puso ni Prinsesa Yumina, nagsalip da Indawat ken Gumined iti panagpana. Nangabak ni Gumined ket isu ti nangasawa iti prinsesa.

Kalpasan ti sumagmamano nga aldaw manipud iti panagkasar da Gumined ken Prinsesa Yumina, inawis ni Indawat ni Gumined a mapan aganup iti kabambantayan. Ngem idi makadanonda iti kabambantayan, pinatay ni Indawat ni Gumined. Inyawidna ti bangkay ni Gumined sana imbaga iti prinsesa a natnag ni Gumined iti rangkis.

Napalalo ti paanagladingit ni Prinsesa Yumina. Impaipanna ti bangkay ti asawana iti lugar a nangabakan idi daytoy iti panagpana, sana pinatay ti bagina. Nem sakbay dayta indawatna kadagiti didiosen a magaburanda koma nga agassawa iti adu nga asin a kas tanda iti nakana a panagladingitna.

Nagkubuar ti baybay, nagdalluyon iti kakasla bantay, ket nalayus ti yanda. Idi agkalman ti dilubio, makita ti kasla perlas ti kapudawna a turod ti asin iti disso a nakatayan da Prinsesa Yumina ken Gumined.

Manipud idin agingga ita, kas tuloy ti sarsarita, madlaw pay laeng ti nakana a panagladingit ni Prinsesa Yumina no agpusuak ti naapgad a danum iti rabaw ti galpang.

No kayatyo a paneknekan ti kinapintas ti Salinas Salt Spring buya a pagtangsit ti Nueva Vizcaya umayyo kitaen. Ngem tapno ad-adda a maragsakankayo, iti tiempo ti kalgaw ti yuumayyo. Narigat ngamin ti bumallasiw iti karayan Bambang no kasta nga agdinakkel ti danum. Mangitugotkayo metten iti kamera a pagalayo kadagiti nadumaduma a buya. #

Enero 1, 1968 o BANNAWAG o 101

  1. I don't remember how Mama reacted to my achievement but I recall Papa was obviously happy when he saw my bylined article. When he asked where I got the accompanying photo of Salinas Spring, I was about to lie to him (knowing his thunderous voice when he is angry). But then my better self mustered courage and I told him I cut out the picture of Salinas from the page of his NLAA souvenir program that he kept in the lakasa where Mama also kept her valuable clothes and jewelry. When he kept silent, I knew my lucky star held.
  2. I got paid five pesos (P5.00) by Bannawag for that piece. I don't recall if it was Uncle Kusep who delivered the registered envelop that contained the Money Order from Manila, but I did recall that I felt I was already a millionaire when I had the check-like item encashed, again thru Papa's oldest brother Uncle Kusep.
  3. You may laugh at P5.00 nowadays, but in 1968 that amount was already money then as you could buy at the time an atado of galunggong for 50 centavos, a huge piece of squash for 10 centavos, a small can of Ligo sardines for 25 centavos, a can of Target corned beef for 80 centavos, a ganta of rice for 50 centavos, a bottle of Coca-Cola or Royal Tru-Orange for 10 centavos, an chicken egg for 10 centavos, a Mongol pencil for 10 centavos, a double-cone sorbetes for 10 centavos, and San Miguel beer for 50 centavos.
  4. Aside from the popularity I got from relatives in Bagumbayan and in I-iyo who read my Bannawag article, among the "fringe benefits" I got was a fan mail from a certain Mildred Malabed of Batac, Ilocos Norte, also a 4th year high school student at the time. We kept writing each other even when I was already in Los Baños but we got to meet only when she was already in her internship as a nurse at the De Ocampo Hospital and came to visit UPLB with her boyfriend.
  5. I wrote an English version of the article in 1974 and, again, I was lucky to get it published in Kerima Polotan's weekly Focus Philippines magazine. It was titled "Witchery at Salinas Salt Spring" and earned for me sixty pesos (P60.00). Unfortunately, I could no longer find a copy of the magazine nor a xerox of the article. I guess this should be reason for me to visit the National Library soon, in addition to doing more research on what that repository and the National Museum have on Isinay and Dupax.
  6. Again, the amount that that Salinas article gave me may not mean anything now, but when I was a student it was already manna from Heaven to me. At the time I could already subsist on an allowance of P40.00 per month. You could buy a pair of Levi's jeans near Quiapo Church then for P40; the BLTB fare between Manila and College, Laguna then was P1.10 (or a little more); for faster and cheaper travel from Mayondon to any point before Tutuban, the Metro train then charged a mere 25 centavos; a bowl of mami plus a piece of siopao in any Ma Mon Luk restaurant then was only P1.50; and jeepney fare then was only 15 centavos.

Why Salinas Salt Spring Means A Lot

I have yet to write a more meaty account of why the town of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, is dear to me. But for this blogpost allow me to focus on its Salinas salt spring if only to substantiate that, apart from barangays Buag, Barat, Almaguer, and Indiana, plus the Bambang public market and the Bambang Central Elementary School, there are other places in that town that I could consider part of me.

For newcomers, Salinas is that oddity in the province of Nueva Vizcaya that used to attract local as well as foreign visitors when the word tourism was not yet a household word. It is one of the places that Nueva Vizcaya, particularly the municipality of Bambang, used to be very proud of when the salt mound (that we Ilocanos called "galpang') and the spring that made it grow were both still alive. 

The salty geological structure was in fact enshrined in the Vizcaya Hymn that we used to sing with fervor in the elementary grades in this stanza: "...Winding Magat and Salinas spring, this is our Vizcaya home!"

Salinas is important to me because, aside from having been mesmerized by it since I first stepped on it as a pre-school kid (carried on the shoulders of my Uncle Anton Pudiquet), it was also the subject of the very first article I ever got published.

I will post in a separate blog that Salinas article once I find it in my "junk files". But for now, allow me to revisit the Salinas salt springs with you.

Salinas on the Web

I googled “Salinas salt spring in Nueva Vizcaya” and my search led me to where there is a photo of Salinas that carried this caption: Salinas Salt Spring before the earthquake. Scanned postcard from the page of Jack Kintanar Cariño, public domain due to the expired copyright length.

The earthquake the caption referred to most probably was the July 16, 1990 temblor that devastated large parts of Luzon, including the Cordillera (Baguio, Benguet), Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija, La Union, and Pangasinan. 

When I googled Jack Cariño, I found out – sadly but still thankfully – that the great photo was not of recent vintage but an archive picture taken or painted (as indeed it looked like a painting) during the American colonial era in the Philippine Islands. 

You may ask how come. 

Well, first, the photo showed US soldiers with their characteristic boots and coverall outfit. And second, the caption on the photo itself said “A 229 – A Mountain of Salt, Mountain Province, Philippines” which means that the Americans who first saw it may not have been so literate on Philippine geography that time for Nueva Vizcaya as a province already existed long before the American colonialists came.

Be that as it may, I'm still thankful for the photo as it portrayed how the Salinas salt spring looked in the olden days. There are bonsai-like trees with their roots clinging on the pearly rock. The mountains in the background show the characteristic brown grasslands that may have been burned to renew the cogon or tanglag grass for the cows, or to attract deer with the resulting ashes.

Here's the photo:

The same site fortunately had this generous writeup titled “Salinas Salt Spring”:

Once upon a time there was unique monument of nature near Bambang town - a snow-white mountain of travertine formed by a powerful spring.
The glistening white hill with rimstone pools (just similar to the fantastic rice terraces in Ifugao) attracted attention of people since ancient times. Nearby village -- Salinas -- got its name from it. This beautiful spring turned into major tourist attraction.
Unfortunately since the earthquake from 16th July 1990 this spring has changed its course and the white mountain has turned into a dirty grey hill covered with inscriptions and graffiti. Most likely the tectonic forces tightened some fissures and water found other ways.
Happily there have been found two more springs with active travertine formation processes in the nearby Macalong barangay, Bambang.
In 2004 local people found out that water is flowing again from the base of former springs. By this time the rural people in this part of Luzon were overwhelmed with the cultivation of tilapias -- small, tasty fish diversifying the daily meals of Filipinos.
In spite of the popular belief that water is too salty for freshwater fish, local enthusiasts tried their luck in artificial fishponds with springwater. This was complete success -- fish grew well and were a lot more tasty than elsewhere. In other pools the meat of fish has got soily taste but here the salts are cementing the ground and the water is cleaner.
Currently more than 30 fishponds have been arranged and in this way the people of Salinas got compensation for disruption of the former tourist landmark. Salinas Salt Spring is a protected monument of nature since 2000.

Popular myths. 

Often there are met two faulty myths regarding Salinas Salt Spring:

  • Many believe that Salinas Salt Spring is formed by the salty water of Pacific Ocean which miraculously travels 75 km inland and is rised 400-500 m above the sea level. This is wrong. Deep artesian water in most areas of the world is salty, often a lot more salty than the ocean. And it happens that this salty water comes up through fissures, and, as it reaches the surface, it precipitates the salt.
  • Cupola and terraces are formed by clean table salt (sodium chloride). Wrong -- if this would be pure table salt, it would dissolve in the wet climate of Luzon very quickly. Salinas cupola and terraces are formed by travertine which for most part consists of limestone. Water in the springs though is slightly salty -- thus there might be some rock salt involved as well.
The author and owner of the website is Gatis Pavils, holder of BSc. Geology and MSc. Environment degrees.

There is also this photo black and white that shows Salinas still white even as it already had the handiwork of vandals:
Photo from
At first I thought the photo above was of recent take, possibly in the 1990s. But I'm having second thoughts because the blogsite that carries it is a memoir of a former World War 2 guerilla named Escolastico "Restie" M. Valerio presumably from Bulacan but now based in New Jersey. Anyway Guerilla Resty had this account (reprinted here as is, unexpurgated) on Salinas that went with the photo in his blog:

" pagkatapos nito ay inatasan kaming tunguhin iyong malapit sa Salinas Salt Spring o bundok na mina ng asin, wlang labanan at ankita namin ang malipetan itong minanganng ito, may 20 metro ang lapad nito sa nilalabasan ng asin mula sa ituktok na undok, putting-puti ang asin sa itaas buablit sa ibaba ay kulay dilaw naman hangang sa kapatagan." (Source:

How Salinas Looks Today

It has been decades, nay, half a century, since I last set foot on Salinas. From hearsay, I learned it had been "killed" by the July 1990 earthquakes and since then the spring stopped flowing, and soon the salt mound lost its pearly white color. No wonder when you are near the bridge in Lamo, Dupax del Norte, you could no longer see the formerly visible white mound in the direction of Salinas.

This 2010 photo I found in the internet should say a lot:

Photo from

Yes sir, yes ma'am, plus or minus the graffiti you see on its gray sides, Salinas salt spring that used to be a pride of Nueva Vizcaya is no longer something to be proud of.

Each time I travel between Baguio and Dupax via the Salinas-Pingkian road, however, I never fail to look in the direction of where the pearly white salt hill used to be nestled among the grassy mountains of the former Forestry Nursery area. 

I also entertain the thought that one of these days the "galpang" will come back, as indeed the salty spring has oozed in other parts downhill -- and benefiting salt-water-loving tilapia plus their fishpond owners (including my second cousin Steve Pudiquet of Barat).

Perish the thought of another killer temblor, but since an earthquake has plugged the hole that allowed the mineral water to come out from the bosom of the earth to form the salt dome, I also have this feeling that most probably another earthquake will unplug the same hole or open a new one that would spawn a new pearly mound that will make Bambang and, for that matter, all of us Nueva Vizcaya natives sing once again.

(NOTE: Please see also my blog "My Very First Published Article Was About Salinas")

Friday, November 4, 2011

The NPA Paranoia

While having coffee to ward off the seeping cold this rainy November 5 morning (Philippine time), I got this text message from my daughter Leia who as of this writing is in Luna, Apayao, serving as writing coach and campus journalism judge for selected elementary and high school youths of that town:

hahaha napagkamalan pala kaming recruiter ng npa. pumunta yung chief of police d2 kanina, sakto pagdating ni harley at nung organizer na naginvite samin. sabi daw ksi ng nagtip sa pulis nagtatagalog daw kami. hahaha ang hirap naman magturo in ilocano or straight english!

Leia is of course the one of my three children who, aside from having been born in August and an adventurous person like your Isinay Bird, probably inherited most of my writing genes too and, as a cum laude graduate of BS in Development Communication at UP Los Banos, is the one who has held fort, as it were, in my aborted high school dream to be a journalist. (But that's another story for another post in this blogsite.)

Sensing her uneasy excitement, I put down my coffee mug and fired back this text message right away:

Wow, gandang experiens yan! Sulatin mo as field diary of a journalism coach. Ganyan din kmi nong fact finding mission sa casecnan 1991, kala ng mga cafgu na bugkalot ay NPA kami kc tagalog salita nmin. Buti may ksama kmi na ifugao at ilongot, at may sulat ako nkuha from forester mayor blando ng quirino.

Not contented, I followed my text with another: Mabuti cguro samahan kayo ng organizer para magcourtesy call sa mayor. Ganyan kc kaparanoid ang ibang tao.

Leia's reply: kinausap na nga ng organizer e. hatid sundo pa nya kami.

Normally, when my coffee turned cold, I would add hot water to it and a half-teaspoon of Nescafe. But this time I just finished what was left in my UNICEF mug, opened my laptop, and began writing this piece.

But while adjusting my seat and selecting what phrases to use, I heard my wife (who I told earlier about Leia's news) reading aloud the text she received herself from our daughter. I told her (my wife) to forward me the text exchanges, so here's their back and forth, as dictated for my typing by Haina Fiadchongan:

Mommy: Scoop na headlyn sa midland! Mga nmundok na media ginawang front ng pulis para kunyari may npasurender na NPA. WAHAHAHA
Leia: hahaha tagatagalog kaya tong pulis sa next rum. wag nga sila. minmuli.
Mommy: Hinde border ang pulis nayan, SPY. INGAT KAU.
Leia: hahaha engot nga spy. eto open ko door para makita nila na nagjujudge aq ng papers hindi aq npa.

Indeed, what happened to my daughter brought a flashflood of memories not only of the term NPA but also of those unforgettable adventures I had some years ago in the countryside.

(to be continued)

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Latest Report on Isinay as an Endangered Language

Just when I thought I have digested all the literature on Isinay that is available on the Internet, I got another happy surprise in my work as Isinay lexicographer when I found by accident a paper written by Ms. Celina Marie Cruz of the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Not one to miss the opportunity, I fired this salvo to Ma'am Celina:

Dear Ma’am Celina,

Mawalang galang na po.

While navigating through the internet last night for a free downloadable copy of Otto Scheerer’s  THE PARTICLES OF RELATION OF THE ISINAI LANGUAGE, my serendipity angel showed me your THE REVITALIZATION CHALLENGE FOR SMALL LANGUAGES: THE CASE OF ISINAI.

Well, as a mestizo Isinay from Dupax myself, I feel I should thank you on behalf of my fellow Isinays who still care for the value and preservation – or at least prolonging the existence for many decades more – of our centuries-old language. 
I’m sorry I could not find your paper’s publication date. But based on your mentioning the Bona’ si Isinai Dopaj and mentioning a Department Order No. 74, s. 2009, I get it to mean it came out very recently. You see, I was speaker during the first anniversary of  Bona^ only last December and, indeed, it came out that we really need to do bold steps to save the Isinay language from falling into complete oblivion.

I guess that as a result of the suggestion I made in my rambling Isinay talk, the members of Bona^ teamed up with the Senior Citizens of Dupax in including as “major, major” part of the town’s fiesta last April a live presentation of how the Isinay daluj-daluj and lupeyup are made.

I’m not sure though if there was a complete videotape (or if somebody kept a copy) of the event which included the Isinay “how-to” narration of how such formerly popular glutinous-rice delicacies among us Dupax Isinays were made. Of course, there was also singing by senior and not-yet-senior citizens of the Isinay songs (e.g. “Dattut Ittuam,” “Uar Sipan Uar,” “Osan Lavi”) that young and old alike loved to sing up to the early ‘70s when TV and Tagalog and cellphones were not yet part of our culture in Dupax, Bambang, and Aritao.

Oh yes, one reason I’m sending you this note is to report to you a recent development about our move to revitalize Isinay – in case you are going to write a sequel or an updated version of your “maserot on mampagayjayam poddan sinulat.”  Early this year I included an “Isinay Friends” group in my Facebook account that generated very warm reception from the younger Irupajs (people of Dupax) many of whom now work or live in the USA, Europe, Canada, Hongkong, and the Middle East.

It didn’t take long before our group got linked with another Facebook group called “Isinay Global Association” started by Isinays from Bambang and made more appealing by a lady who translated Bible verses into the Bambang version of Isinay. I had sporadic contributions to both groups by way of photos that generated not only lively Isinay exchanges but also evoked nostalgia among the members now living overseas.

In both FB groups, there is implied enthusiasm for revitalizing the Isinay language, be it Bambang or Dupax. Small steps and small victories, yes. It’s only unfortunate that no matter how I repeatedly included Aritao in my posts in the hope to flush out of the cave, as it were, Isinays of that town, my effort has so far met nakabibinging katahimikan from I-aritaos.

This is why I’m happy you reported that Aritao also has its Uhmu Si Tribun Si Beveoyar Ari-Tau. Would you know somebody in that group I could contact, preferably through e-mail? Would you also know if that group includes the Isinay writer-editor Edgar Daniel and the UP-based(?) indi-film producer/director Mel Guzman?

Pasensiya na po, Madam, sa aking pang-aabala. Patunay lang po iyon kung gaano ninyo pinasigla ang aba naming puso at mundong Isinay sa inyong sinulat. Magtiwala po kayo na gagamitin namin, kung inyo pong mamarapatin, ang mga mungkahing nakapulupot sa mga findings ninyo – tungo sa aming panggagatong at pagpapalagablab muli sa aming wika na kaakibat ng aming kultura.


Osan mangirayaw ira^yun mabves pusonar an tataju sina Diliman,

88 Amistad, Camp 7, Baguio City

From: Celina Marie Cruz <>
To: charlz castro <>
Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 11:08 AM
Subject: Re: Revitalizing Isinay

Dear Mr. Castro,

Thank you so much for your email. It really brightened my day, knowing the people of Isinai are showing so much interest in the preservation and revitalization of the language. And it warms the heart to know that, in my own little way, I could help you in your pursuits.

I wrote my paper on The Revitalization Challenge of Small Languages: The Case of Isinai for a Linguistics Congress held at Cagayan de Oro last February 2010. It's basically a summary of my thesis. I will try to find a copy of my thesis, in hopes of helping you further your initiatives. We (a group of linguistics and anthropology students) also did a paper on the Isinai language and culture around 2009 for field work. We left copies of our study at Aritao, Dupax and Bambang.

Mr. Edgar Daniel III was one of my research sources. You can try and contact him through this number 0906-5748717 or his wife at 09155778368. I'm sorry but I still can't find his email address. I will email you again once I find it.

Thank you again for updating me on the developments of the revitalization of the Isinai language and culture. I am excited for all your efforts! I hope your initiatives will soon bloom into greater things! Please continue updatingf me. And if there is anything I can help you with, please do not hesitate to ask! :)

Celina Cruz

Pinavlen Ma'am Celina,

Maraming salamat po sa inyong reply, at sa mga contact numbers.

It would be great to find out if the III in Mr. Daniel's name means he is the same person or a younger version of the Vizcaya Advocate editor I wrote a letter to and he liked the Isinay line I used ("Ayyu ayyu bebeyoyar Dupaj!" -- Literally: Kawawa naman ang bayang Dupax!). Well, that was in the pre-Martial Law years and I was a scrawny student then in UP Los Baños.

Actually, my interest at helping revitalize one of my dual native languages started as a game between me and my sisters in 2007 when, each time we meet, we would talk in Isinay and tried to outdo one another in using what we thought was the deepest Isinay word or phrase we could use -- and even imitated the sing-song way my father and uncle (natoy ra mot) talked. We started with the names of vegetables, insects, household utensils, and parts of the body. Since then our little game continued and included even my Dupax-based nieces and cousins, such that it became an unwritten rule to use Isinay when we talked with one another.

Interestingly, in cases of disputes involving wrong pronunciation or Ilocanized/Tagalized terms, we used our mother (a pure Ilocana who was forced to learn Isinay so she could get along with her pure Isinay mother-in-law and my father's Isinay relatives) as arbiter. Quite often, too, we consulted some of her senior citizen Isinay friends. I kept arbitrary listings here and there of the words that I myself have already forgotten, and pretty soon the few dozens of quaint or even moribund Isinay terms on my list became hundreds.

The hundreds soon became thousands and, before I knew it, I was already compiling and alphabetizing enough words in my computer to make an Isinay-English dictionary. The cellphone had been very useful as now and then my sisters would send in new words they remembered or came across with while conversing with fellow Isinays. In my little place in Baguio, I would also be alert for Isinay-sounding words each time my Bontoc-Barlig wife talked with her siblings.

And that was how I got invited to speak before the Bona^ si Isinai Dupaj. Somehow news got around that this prodigal son of Dupax was trying to make an Isinay dictionary, and the officers thought it would be best to encourage their members to help. To make the story short, napasubo na po ako. In fact, each time I go to Dupax to visit my mother, several members of the Bona^ (we use the circumflex here) who are also members of her senior citizens' association would come to the house and would ask me if I already had in my compilation this word, this song, this prayer, this saying, this lojlojmo^ (riddle), etc.

For the younger Isinays, mabuti na lang may Facebook na kung saan di lang kami nagkakakilanlan at nagpapalitan ng Isinay jokes at nag-re-react sa photos using Isinay. Believe me, enthusiastic din sila sa paggamit ng Isinay! In the process, marami akong napupulot na Isinay Bambang at Isinay Dupaj na di ko pa narinig sa tanang buhay ko.

Hulog ng langit din itong Internet na kung saan nadiskubre ko ang napakagandang sinulat ninyo.

Pasensya na po kung makuwento ako (ganyan daw yata ang medyo tumatanda na!) pero nakalimutan ko palang ireport din na napakalaking tulong sa revitalization ng Isinay language ang paggamit sa mga kanta at dasal na Isinay sa mga misa tuwing Linggo sa St. Vincent Catholic Church ng Dupax.

Mavves an ejao ira^yu, Madam Celina!

I shall tell you some of the findings of Ms. Cruz on Isinay in a future post. But those of you who may wish to read the paper may please Google Revitalization of Isinai. Alternatively, you can type at the top of your computer screen's search line.

A Surprise E-mail from a US-based Bambang Isinay

Got a surprise email recently from a kind-hearted fellow who I never met but, as our ensuing interchange would show, seemed an old friend.


Iva an Charlz,

Taon ya Isinaya^ an nai-ana^ siri Bambang.  Diyoya^ situ California manlaput sirien 1968.  Uria^ mot pojdan amtan mamba^ba^ si Isinay toy nayid an at-atup an tajun domonan kasabayat u si ba^ba^ tauwad.  (Isinay Bambang)  

Misalamata^ isi-a toy mabet ri ap-appiomad si ba^ba^  ta-uawararin Isinay.  Taon naila' ri website muad ot amma-i ri gayhaya-uad toy diyoy si tajun Isinay an mansulsulat si bilaynad sirien poto^ siri Dupax.  Diyoy ra pelat bona^mi sina Dupax. 

Attached is a Spanish-Isinay Grammar study printed in 1889. The Isinay language is preserved in this book.  I'm certain it would be of great help to you in your endeavor to put out an Isinay-English dictionary.  May the language be preserved through your love for the language.  God bless you.

Jimmie Scott Genoves

PS.     There another book in Isinay available in the internet, "Catecismo de la Doctrina Cristiana en la Lengua de Isinay o Inmeas".  


Dear Uwa Jimmie,

Adday, maserot, magayjaya, on masing-aw poddan sorpresa ri email muar isaon!

Si atuttuwanar, Uwa, it came just when I was feeling a little "low-battery" with the Isinay-English dictionary project that I'm trying to put up. Ampaylamo pirayawa^ otia tien libru mu mabus, masait on malingot attoj ri mangappiar si attu, lalo toy bea (first time ever) an dioy si attun sinajung u.

Medio mabayina^ bayao isia toy marri^ ensigidan naka-reply. You must have heard of the twin typhoons Pedring and Quiel that hit northern Luzon a few days before you sent the copy of Fr. Joaquin Lazaro's Estudio de la Lengua Castellana en Isinay. Yes, it didn't only cause us on-and-off power outages here in Baguio (and days-long blackouts in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino); it also disturbed our internet connection in the house. Marri^ pay makabuttat beyoy miar ta man-internet otia siri downtown Baguio, toy dotdot an man-uran si masde ya tungnin podda.

Anyway, I hope I would be able to make up for my late reply. You know what, when you said "Diyoy ra pelat bona^mi sina Dupax", I immediately thought of the Scotts in Dupax who had been our neighbors (in fact, two of the Scott houses are around 100 meters away from our house in Domang and some of the Scott boys were my playmates siren unga^ tay).

It's good I have the cellphone number of Joseph, son of Uwa David Scott who I only talked with last May when I went to attend my mother's 78th birthday. Mansutsura isia (I'll tell you a story), Uwa, toy insulat ut notebook uwar di naapiar.

First, I sent Joseph this text message: "Si lavi, joseph. Santuwom man i amam mu dioy si pangivan yu an JIMMIE SCOTT GENOVES. Nan-email ampay isaon toy nabalitanan mangap-appia^ si isinay dictionary. Amtanan man-isinay toy dati anun taga-bambang nanung an nan-otan USA. Dioy ra anut relatives na sina dupax."

Joseph's reply was this: "O, uwa, pinsan buo ni amang."

Wanting more details, I texted him this: "Andere, lei o mu bavayi? Mari^ ampay segurado mu ande tawaj uwar, mu sir o mu madam. Adday, manggayjaya re mu subveta^ di email nar. Si^nu mot ni tinaw-on nar?"

Joseph Scott: "Mari' cgurado edad nar, beyaw ot unga mu si ancle totoy, dauway poda nu isi'a re.. isinay bambang takallo... Uwa mot lohom ayah mwar isiya. Ana' lola diana scott an ivan lolo condrado scott an aman amang un david."

My text message again: "Suspetsa ar iman ya dauway mu saon toy 1968 la anun immoy siri california. Ande sostowar ngaron uncle mun yoles? Marawum santuwo na mu ibalita^ an nantext ta."

Joseph again (answering my "panantu" about the full name of Uwa Yoles and my earlier query what your probable age is): "Eulises salgado scott. Dauway ana' lei da papa ado on mama dora'. Halos kaedad na."

My parting text to Joseph: "Ay atdi... sige man emaila mu bijat. Ibalita^ tu isia mu ande ri subvet nar. Thank you, joseph. Musta mot lojom i amam. Nxt an umuli ya^ ya mampasyala^ abuwew."

Back to you, Uwa Jimmie. Misalsalamata^ podda toy impawit mu ri libru war. I should say you didn't only make my day (and week!) fruitful but also gave a major, major boost to my writing on Isinay, especially the dictionary I am trying to complete.

You know what happened? For the past few days that I could not reply to your email, I spent many exciting hours going over the pages of Lengua Castellana en Isinay. In the process, I got to learn that, except for a few words (such as ela, eman, lea-i, babayi, and manuara), Bambang Isinay and Dupax Isinay were very much the same when the book was printed (1889) or during the Spanish period. Yes, if Fr. Joaquin Lazaro fully based his book on Isinay Bambang, I was curious to discover that he even used the word "mebbes" instead of the "mabbet" currently used in Isinay Bambang.

I shall write about my findings and reactions to the book in my Isinay-Bird blogsite, so you are please welcome to visit the site again one of these days. But, before that, I have to buy a copy of Spanish dictionary so that I would be able to supplement whatever is left of my 60-year-old brain's man-oj o mu uritti^ poddan naadal ut Spanish siren nan-escuela^ St. Mary's Dupax on siren nangeya^ si Spanish 1 on Spanish 2 subjects siri UP Los Baños.

Atdi tay lojom, Uwa Jimmie. Again, pasencia amot toy marri^ naka-reply ensigida. I hope an mabbet dotdot on matde tay ri batang muad!

Iva mar an Irupaj,

From: Jimmie Genoves <>
To: Charlz Castro <>
Sent: Monday, October 10, 2011 11:22 AM
Subject: Re: Estudio de la Lengua Castellana en Isinay

Hi, Charlz,

Mabet an ejaw isi-a, Iva.

About myself:  I met Joseph Scott a couple of times when I visited in Dupax over 50 years ago.  I remember him as an amicable, lively and very likeable fellow.  He would not remember me well as he was probably seven years of age when I met him.
My mother, Melviney Esnaola Scott, was Conrado Scott's sister.  Their other siblings: Elizabeth (Diana), Leana (resides in Florida) , Randolph, and Jeremiah (resides in California).     Totoy (Benito Jr) is my elder brother. 

In parting, here's something very interesting: About 10 years ago while I was in Florida, I visited  with Bella (Magalad ?) Lamb, a cousin of mine from Dupax.   While I was in her home, she contacted a cousin who lived in England.   I think she's a daughter of David Scott.  Charlz, have you ever imagined listening to one from Dupax speaking Dupax Isinay with another from Dupax.  Well, when Bella and Cousin (I forgot her name. I met her when she was very young.) were conversing, I heard the melodious "sing-song" accent of Isinay Dupax between the two.  The Dupax accent was so pronounced that it instantly made me homesick.   The musical accent of spoken Dupax Isinay is quaintly unique as the language is.   The interesting thing is when Cousin spoke in English with me, she spoke in purely English accent without any trace of another national origin.  It's interesting how one can switch from a heavy accent to a totally different and unrelated one.

I'm very glad that the book will be of help to you.  Check out also "Catecismo de la Doctrina Cristiana en la Lengua de Isinay o Inmeas".  The book was written in the 1830's.  I find written Isinay in that era to be difficult to understand.  It would be a challenge to any Isinay language researcher as it was with the writer when he wrote the book. 

Please pass on my regards and love to my relatives in Dupax.
I wish you the best. 
The Lord be in your spirit.


PS.  Charlz, what's your mailing address?

Dear Uwa Jimmie,

That was quick! I thought I'd never hear from you again but here you are.

Your description of the melodious "sing-song" accent of IsinayDupax made me laugh, Uwa. All along, I thought Bambang Isinay was more musical compared to the staccato and argumentative sound of Isinay Dupaj. You see, I stayed in Buag when I was Grade 1 for some months at the Bambang Central Elementary School (near the mountain road connecting downtown Bambang and the Junction near San Antonio) and I liked the tone of the Isinay spoken there.

You mentioned your cousin Bella. If she is 61 or 63 now, I think she was the one who lived with Ina Dora^ Scott and her maiden name is Guiab, not Magalad. If I'm not also mistaken, your cousin in England is named Elsa. I guess I'll have to ask Joseph though.

I already have a copy of the Catecismo de la Doctrina Cristiana that I downloaded from the internet last year yet. Published in 1876, it is supposed to be the oldest book in Isinay.You're correct -- its Isinay is very difficult to understand, particularly that the spellings are using the now obsolete orthography for Philippine languages. 

What I'm raring to get hold of is the book Isinay Texts and Translations by Ernesto Constantino. I tried downloading it but I only managed to get a few paragraphs. Printed only in 1982, I think its Japanese publishers have not released it yet for free reading in the internet.

By the way, Uwa Jimmie, may I publish our email exchanges in my isinay-bird blogsite? I want your letter to serve as prelude to my "book review" of the Spanish-Isinay grammar book you so kindly sent. 

Your fellow Isinay advocate,


Oh yes, my mailing and home address is:
88 Amistad Road, Camp 7
Baguio City 2600, Philippines