Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Diyyes then was Already Heaven

WHEN I WAS going to school at the Gabaldon (that’s how Dupax Elementary School was called then, which I later learned to mean the type of building that an American architect designed for schools in the Philippines), it was seldom if ever that Mama gave me money.

Well, it was probably because it was not fashionable for parents to pamper their kids with allowances (unlike now). It might have also been because we simply had no money for such luxury as Papa’s salary as a public school teacher then was only enough to buy a week’s supply of grocery that Mama and I went to buy from Ko Peng’s stall in Malasin every Sunday after mass (usually consisting of a kilo of sugar, a can of condensed milk, two or more cans of sardines, a 6-pack bundle of Siga-siga cigarettes, a pack of 6-box matches, a kilo of bihon, two boxes of Purico, two long bars of Perla laudry soap, two bars of Lifebuoy bath soap, a small jar of Fighter or Atomic pomade, Johnson’s baby powder, etc.)

I therefore had to earn a few centavos selling bote and landuk to the Chinese man with assiw from Malasin. No diyaryo then and, if ever, what little paper we had was meant for kindling the pugon or was ripped into pieces and hung on the wall of the toilet for wiping one’s behind.

What did I need money for? Well, to buy candy with rubber bands or delicious mamon bread from Incion “Pawa” Galam’s store at the gate of the Dupax Elementary School. Or during recess when Rosby “Oppi” Ferrer’s sorbetes cart was around and his bell’s incessant kleng-kleng-kleng went irresistible, my mouth went watering to have a lick at the most delicious icecream there was in the whole of Dupax at the time.

My best ally before Nelson grew big enough to join was Elnora. We went scavenging rusty nails on the trail/road between the Ili and Magaway lots and connecting Domang with Dupaj and across Abannatan. We passed there after Sunday mass and put whatever pickings we had on sabsabut/ungut that also abound in the filth. (As a footnote, Elnora has taken up nursing at St. Louis University in Baguio and has been working since the early 1980s as a nurse in a hospital in Maryland, USA. Her brother Nelson has taken up Forestry like me and is now the DENR's Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer or PENRO of Zambales.)

Good finds then because they commanded better price were dilapidated kaserola, broken paryok, punctured kaldero, and spent up plow share. The plow share (sarapa) plus the subsub I would get from Surung but this was if Apong agreed, otherwise I would go home to Domang with resentment as the plow materials were meant to be dalikan for the binugbog (chopped papaya, gabi, or tigi cooked along with rice bran and used as swine feed).

One time I fought with Elias Felix in Surung over a landok that I found and took pains to pry from its place in the banawang. Another time, the bote-landuk man wanted to buy the shotput steel ball that Papa brought home from Gabaldon and which Tata Ikko^ et al. would use for throwing contests. Other times I would find grenade-sized iron blobs and the bote-landuk man rejected them (I didn’t know then they were the heads of World War II bombs). These dangerous (?) items used to abound then under the mango trees or sapang vines in Pitang where I used to go scavenge for our favorite polbora (tiny square chips and centimeter-long wire cuttings).

Ordinarily, our collections were Rose Vinegar bottles and Cliquot softdrink. The Siok Tong or vinegar bote were gin bottles that Inang used for her herbal medicines or coconut oil.There were aluminum casseroles then which commanded better price. But Mama did not discard the ones that got holes (perhaps due to too much scrubbing) as she found them light and good (they didn’t rust unlike kerosene cans) for her kutsay herbs that she used to cure my sisters’ bumps each time they stumble or hit their heads onto something.

No one bought milk and sardine cans. Nonetheless, we treasured these. The flat sardine cans became gargarusa (toy cars) and later for tambourine. The milk cans similarly served as wheels for the sardine cars or made into maracas that we equipped with guava twigs for handle and a dozen or so tiny stones for the sound. The tambourines and the maracas we used as carolling paraphernalia when Christmas came and my sister Arlyne and cousins Elnora, Neneng, and Jessie went to sing “Dashing thru the snow,” “Soap as the boys of an angel” and “Sa-ay lent nayt” in the houses whose owners we knew were not so stingy as to part with 5 centavo or 10 centavo coins each. We would later divide the fruits of our singing efforts and if there was not enough to make all members have at least a diyes (10 centavos) each, Uncle Kusep (oldest brother of Papa and Uncle Ermin) would fill up the deficit — and then we would all go home happy and then later dream of doing another carolling the next Christmas around.


  1. From: LATARP@aol.com
    Subject: Kumosta
    Date: Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    I am sorry to hear about the passing of Uncles Vicente and Ermin.

    You know I keep wondering how Dupax looks now, especially Gabaldon and SMD and Domang. I saw the picture of Palobotan in your blog, and our beloved St. Vincent Ferrer Church. I see you recently visited Dupax. Are the roads through Kiangan better now? Before they were only one-lane roads and you can look down the precipice on the side. Scary!

    The pictures of the church look very nice. I'm hoping to visit in the near future. I taught in the UB Arts & Sciences Dept - my first teaching job after graduating from SMU in Bayombong. I used to stay at Patria de Baguio, the dorm near the Cathedral.

    I really miss Dupax. Meyongngawa podda. (I hope I spelled that right). I used to walk Session Road and was a frequent walker at Burnham Park.

    Kumosta a mot? Si'nu ri ana' muar? You are right, I am now 64 years old. Here retirement is 65 but I think I would not want to be idle. Is your wife from Baguio? When I was there, I remember those beautiful ladies with pink cheeks. I had a girlfriend who was from La Union. Well those were the days.

    Keep in touch. You are not just a "kababayan". You are also my relative.

    Best Regards,
    Peping Latar

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


    Dear Wa Peping,

    Hey, that was quick!

    When was the last time you've been to Dupax and Baguio? I hope I'm not going to be a kill-joy, but osapay mot podda ri itsoranar daratyen lugar!

    First, Baguio. You no longer smell the fragrant mentholated scent of pine trees that we used to enjoy in the '70s. In place of the thick pines that used to hang on for life on foggy hillsides are now an ugly proliferation of artless roofs and subdivisions in almost any direction.

    Session is now a showcase of undisciplined motorists that no longer respect pedestrians, unlike when I first came to Baguio. The siren that used to make traffic stop during angelus or 12 noon is no longer there. In place of the tourist-friendly taxis are smoke-belching vans the seats of which are what is described in Isinay as mampaavij.

    Burnham too has lost its big eucalyptus, araucaria and pine trees. When you do your morning walks there, you better brace yourself with the presence of pesky sidewalk vendors selling cheap goods ranging from umbrellas to porno DVDs to sunglasses to cellphones.

    A positive change however is the now paved road between Baguio and Vizcaya via Ambuklao Dam and Pingkian. One time my son came home from Dubai, we drove from our house at Camp 7 and reached Domang in 3 hours, plus a few minutes of taking photos of pine forests near Kayapa, river and ricefield scenes at Pingkian, and the new bridge between Aritao and Mangayang.

    As for Dupax, sementado mot lom-an kalsarar. Even Benay Bridge that used to be a rickety thing is now a reliable and photogenic feature. The road to Daya that used to be dusty in summer and muddy when it rained is now 80% concrete.

    The plaza that used to be peopled only during fiestas has become a busy playground for kids as it is now an sports stadium, complete with roof and lights. But ah, the kids there no longer speak Isinay, or even Ilocano. Panay Tagalog da mot.

    But I was happy to see the Church, especially its belfry, has remained unmolested by people with wrong sense of aesthetics. The century-old acacias are still standing. And thank God, my favorite Dampol Bridge, said to be the oldest in Luzon, is also still intact.

    St. Mary's Dupax is still something to be proud of, with more buildings now. Oh yes, it is currently under the stewardship of your cousin Fely Dagdag-Olarte (a classmate of Joe and myself in Grade school). I wonder though if SMD has an English teacher the likes of my Madam Ermelinda Magalad who died only last Feb. 19.

    I reserved the saddest news for the last: our other favorite school, specifically the old Gabaldon building, is no longer there. I heard it rapidly deteriorated since the July 16, 1990 earthquake that hit northern Luzon (including Baguio, Dupax, Bimmaley, and La Union) and, two years ago, there being no rich man to oppose its demolition, binajbaj da mot. Totally.

    It was only last January that I got to learn about this. I asked a brother-in-law to drive me there for a quick look. Where the Gabaldon used to be, not even the flagpole before which I first learned to sing "Land of the morning" was left.

    I only saw a couple or so of gering (goats) munching on the grass that grew where our pinavle an ikwilan formerly stood.

    I didn't bother anymore to look around to say hello to my other favorite places. The vacancy hit me like something deep inside me died.


  4. Hi Uwa Peping!

    Mavves toy dioy si arua^ an nandeyoromdom si nawayirar an Gabaldon building. What pained me also was that while other towns in the Philippines consider their Gabaldons heritages or historic places, it seemed the powers that be in Dupax did not give a damn when it was nabahbah into dust.

    You're right about the Isinay of mudfish -- dalah or dalaj. The catfish is of course pattat. This reminds me that I should include in the Isinay-English dictionary I'm doing a page on Isinay nomenclature for fish and other aquatic animals found in Dupax. I guess I'll have to find photos of sappilan, guggur, baruy, dalit, alalu, gurami, tilapia -- and tadah, tingoy, tohong, bau-u, bilavil, genga, asisip, ambeveyo^, basikul, abivi, ahurung, ahasit, etc.

    If I'm not mistaken, the cantores Mrs. Arroyo was named Victoria or Ina Bitto^. She died a long time back, followed by Uwa Mario then Gorio. It's good you remembered some lines of the song that you said she did solo -- I'll note them down and will ask Uwa Sofia for the complete lyrics and the title when i go home for the Dupax del Sur fiesta this April 27-30.

    Oh yes, it's good you used "diop-par" -- for indeed that's how I heard the Isinay for "heaven" was when I was small. Amtam ampay, Uwa, I felt like a stranger when I saw in the overhead projector in the church that they spell "dioppa" vioppa.

    As for Ninong Abe, well, apart from thinning hair, he's still as active as he used to. He does early morning walks daily (in fact, I met him before sunrise one time I went to I-iyo). I'm not sure though if he has access to email. Anyway, I'll tell him about you and will ask him to open an email account (if he has none yet) when I see him this month end. (He was my sponsor when I got married in 1979.)