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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.