And so you write, or rather pound furiously at the computer, unmindful of the day’s deadlines and do so by consoling yourself that, oh well, deadlines can wait but not inspired moments which, when left unattended, will surely no longer come back as vivid and as sweet as they first came knocking on your consciousness.
The images were of course more than the fleeting and intangible shadows of a bygone era. For one thing, they came in full color, along with the scents and the sounds even, that were part of the now fast vaporizing mementos of a half-century-old city rat compelled to be like that by circumstances all pointing towards the need to earn a decent living and keep family and soul intact.
I remember somebody told us the total population of Dupax then, including its barrios Malasin, Ineangan, Lamo, Inaban, Mabasa, Mangayang, Sta. Maria, Belance, Bitnong, and Palobotan, was around 20,000 and we took pride in that too, thinking that at least we were more in number than Aritao and Santa Fe (towns that I heard used to be barrios of Dupax before the Japanese period or so).
Almost without fail, rain or shine, fiesta or not, I think even on Sundays, truckloads after truckloads of logs passed by the road connecting my boyhood barrio, Iiyo (aka Surong and Palobotan), to the ili (town proper).
On lazy afternoons, the sound of the logging trucks approaching our side of town gave us chance to play a how-many-logs-in-the-truck guessing game. The choices were isahan (meaning the truck carried only one huge log), dalawahan (two logs), and tatluhan (three logs).
Note that decades later, when I was already a forester, I remembered those isahan logs of my youth when I saw a cross-section of a dipterocarp log mounted in front of the Bureau of Forest Development office in Davao City; I swore to myself that my town’s logs were definitely more humongous than those in Davao.
I could also only watch with envious glee each time I would be in the company of the two brothers on weekends or during vacation from school and they rode their wheeled toys downslope on the hill across the road from the sawmill while waiting for the sawmill engines to stop, signaling that outsiders like us could now go rummage, dig, and pull from the huge piles of sawdust, slabs, barks, trimmings and edgings whatever sawmill wastes we could haul.
But the truck was not as heavy-duty as those of the Calacala brothers and I think it was good for only a couple or so trips to the sawmill – plus a not so smooth downhill ride in the spot where other boys with logging trucks waited for the sawmill to open.
No sooner had I began to like my truck than its sapwood wheels split and I was scared (always scared) of Papa’s “gaddemet salamabet ubet!” scolding. So I just parked the thing on one corner behind the kitchen and went back to using sako (jute sack) for hauling slabs, edgings, trimmings and dipterocarp barks (this last one dried more quickly and were preferred for cooking because they ignited faster and produced charcoal).
Indeed, during those days when the grassy hill now occupied by the Bautista family was still open-access pasture and playground for the Isinay kids in my neighborhood, I would shun the other boys' rough play with their trucks and rather veer away to enjoy the song of the cicadas and the comfort given by the shade of the mango trees.
I would gather sapang, look for kitkitiwit fruits, or listen to the mountain breeze as it shook marasaba mangoes from their unreachable promontories -- rather than join the guys’ unending quarrels on whether airplanes were faster than jet planes, or whether mangoes were sweeter than apples, or whether Manila was farther than Bayombong.