Sunday, May 17, 2015

A 55-Year-Old Wound Remembered

THE SECOND thing that I remembered when I was nursing the wound I described in the post immediately before this was that I had a similar blood-letting about 55 or so years ago.

I should remember, because the record pain and the amount of blood generated by that wound were only surpassed when I had "a purposive kind of wounding" called circumcision.

Oh well, the memory of that earlier wound stood up as if to say "I'm still here!" because, by some strange coincidence, the wound I had a few days ago was only half a centimeter away from the one that I had when I was eight.

By coincidence, too, the old wound was also accidentally self-inflicted when the bolo I was using went wayward, sliced off about a centimeter of epidermis and some millimeters of flesh in my left index finger, and before I knew it, blood was spurting -- repeat, spurting -- and not oozing.

I purposely paused to make a digital photo of my "lucky" finger while writing this and posted the resulting picture on the right to drive home my point. Note that my current wound is beside the nail (uu in Isinay, kuko in Iloko) of my tannuru, while the scar (pi^lat in Isinay, piglat in Iloko) which I colored red for emphasis is on the pinching or lower side of the finger.
The fresh wound is in green while the scar is marked red.

To complete the story, the accident happened while I was making the first of four wooden wheels intended for a tartarak (toy truck) that I envisioned to be a work of art when completed.

At first I thought the wound was superficial. And, yes, I thought the pain and the bleeding would stop as soon as I chewed young guava leaves and spat the medicine on the wound.

As fate would have it, I got scared of my spurting and bloody finger. Thus, even if anyone of the several guava trees that formed part of our backyard way back then was easily within my chewing reach, I ran to my mother instead.

My mom was as usual busy with a dress in her Singer sewing machine then. But when she saw me sidle up beside her and sobbing, she stopped her sewing and tremblingly asked what happened.

I didn't answer and just firmly pressed my thumb on my injured finger inside my short-pants' front pocket.

Mama must have seen patches of blood on my short pants and got highly alarmed herself. So, pretty soon she was shouting expletives in Ilokano and pried out my left hand from my short pants.

To cut the story, my mother ran to her small medicine cabinet in the big room upstairs, and in a few moments, she applied plaster and sulfanilamide powder on my finger.

The medicine gave a stinging pain when Mama sprinkled it on my wound. But I was so relieved to see the blood stop coming out that I kept the hurt puppy inside me from making ayuwong (Isinay for wailing).

NOW TO GO back to the project that caused it all.

The raw material I used was a slab that was part of my mangayu (firewood gathering) outputs. It was part of my haul of firewood material that I gathered with the use of the then common multipurpose jute sack (called langgotse in Isinay, langgosti in Iloko) either as scrapwood container or as shoulder cushion for hauling longer pieces of throw-away lumber from the sawmill (which used to occupy a huge patch of land across the road from where the Iglesia ni Cristo church now stands in Barangay Sta. Maria, Dupax del Sur) to our home in Domang.

I had no knowledge then of the names and qualities of the timber (said to be mostly dipterocarps) logged from the bluish eastern mountains of Dupax. But I chose that slab for its hardness, the resulting wheels of which would be durable or at least last much longer than the wheels of the truck earlier made by my teacher father purposely to facilitate my firewood gathering.

My father must have sensed that whenever I would not go to Palabotan (called I-iyo when I was young) on weekends or during school breaks, I would join the Calacala brothers Junior and Oret plus other Isinay boys in our neighborhood in Domang to go rummage for fuelwood material from among the mountains of sawdust, trimmings, edgings, log barks, and other sawmilling wastes dumped in the area across the Dupax cemetery.

He must have realized that aside from the itch and bruises one would often get from hauling the slabs and trimmings from the sawmill dump, gathering sawmill waste was not always fun. Thus, Papa must have put heart and soul in fashioning that truck to make my chore somewhat lighter.

But I only got to use Papa's "truck" for its intended purpose of hauling firewood twice. For one thing, its wooden and wiggly wheels were not of much help in taking heavy loads over the one-kilometer distance between the sawmill and our house in Domang.

What broke the camel's back, however, was the truck's artless features -- rubberless wheels, unpainted body, and un-truck-like appearance. I felt uncomfortable pulling it in the company of the Calacala brothers who were prone to despise (al-aliyon in Isinay, uyawen in Iloko) my equipment because their mini versions of logging trucks did not only look handsome in their green metallic hoods complete with tansan (bottle caps) for headlights but were also sturdy, had six rubber-lined wheels, and could haul even a cavan of rice.

Anyway, thank you, Papa, for giving it a try. At least for some joyful moments, I employed your masterpiece to babysit my much younger sisters then -- Merlie 5, Tessie 3&1/2, and Judith 2 -- when we still had that grassy roadside as children's playground in our part of Dupax. 

Question: Whatever happened to my dream truck?

Well, I don't recall having finished even one wheel. But at least the accident gave me days of respite from such household chores then as feeding the pigs, sweeping dung from the poultry, and hauling firewood.

Moreover, the accident it brought has taught me to be extra careful when using sharp objects -- a lesson that I think I have kept in mind since 1960... until recently.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Guava Leaves as Medicine for Wounds

FUNNY HOW a small wound is able to resurrect buried memories of childhood.

The other day I was cutting sayote fruits into chunks preparatory to cooking as sort of viand (in-asuh in Isinay, dinengdeng or inabraw in Iloko) for my three dogs when my bolo (ota^ in Isinay, buneng in Iloko) slid off the tough skin of the veggie fruit and went straight to carve a C-shaped incision on my left index finger (tannuru in Isinay, tammudo in Iloko).

As I was pressing my thumb (am-ama in Isinay, tangan in Iloko) to the wound which I read somewhere a long time ago is a first-aid technique to stop the bleeding and to make the wound close quickly, three sets of memories came racing (nanlolomba in Isinay, nagiinnuna in Iloko) in my mind.

For the sake of brevity, I shall focus first on one of the recollections dusted, if we may use the term, by the finger wound and follow this up later with separate posts on the two.

Indeed, as the title of this piece suggests, guava leaves (dawun si bayyawas in Isinay, bulong ti bayyabas in Iloko) are not only possible but powerful medicines for wounds among Isinays as well as, I guess, among Ilocanos and other "races" that have access to guava trees.

That's my wounded tannuru pointing at the guava medicine.
Like most other outdoor-loving kids in Dupax, as a boy I was also not immune to getting wounded (masuhat in Isinay, masugatan in Iloko). In fact, my most "victimized" body part then were my feet, quite often because I was not looking where I was stepping as my eyes focused on the bird (mantetteyav in Isinay, billit or tumatayab in Iloko) I was sniping among the spiny brush, in the bamboo clumps, or under the mango trees.

I digress, but in case you would ask why I was often barefoot, let me just say that it was not yet in fashion then, especially in the barrio, to wear sandals. You see, we barrio (sitio) folks in I-iyo back then -- and even in the central part of Dupax -- were really simple and frugal barefooted people. If ever we had sandals, shoes, slippers, or any semblance of footwear then, they were only meant for school or for church or when one was a wedding sponsor.
The wooden clog they call bakya in Tagalog (kuekos in Isinay, suikos in Iloko) were the "in" thing then and I remember Inang Feliza, my maternal grandmother, buy me a pair once -- the transparent plastic part of which were painted with flowers and the wooden sole carved with whatever. But I could not run around with such cumbersome clogs, nor could I go after the birds without making a noise with them wooden things.

Besides, as no day passed by without me playing in the river (wangwang in Isinay, karayan in Iloko) or in the banawang (body of water created as diversion path for irrigation water from the river to the ricefields), there was always the risk of losing either of the pair of bakya to the water. I could not wear the bakya either when I went to fetch the carabao (nuwwang in Isinay, nuang in Iloko) from its tether in the hills or in the newly harvested ricefield and ride it down to soak in the banawang or the river.

Naturally the wounds I would get were caused by stepping on a protruding bamboo peg or a sharp stone. But occasionally I would scrape my knees when I would stumble (mirumo^ in Isinay, maipakleb in Iloko) when running from an unfriendly bull in my grandfather's pasto (pasture land for cattle) or when shooing away chickens that are getting more than their share of the biit (upland rice) being sun-dried preparatory to storage in the rice granary (eyang in Isinay, sarusar or kamalig in Iloko).

Lucky for me and my similarly hyperkinetic playmates, there were always guava trees or saplings nearby where we could freely go and pluck young leaves for our injuries. We would chew a leaf or two to form a poultice and later apply the guava-cum-saliva mixture to our wound. Sometimes we were careless or didn't mind if the leaves had black ants on them.

The wound or wounds would almost always stop oozing blood. But when they didn't heal during the first treatment, we would get as many leaves as the pockets of our khaki short-pants could accommodate and bring them home to pound in the small mortar (pamo^bo-an in Isinay, almiris in Iloko) meant for crushing such cooking ingredients as ginger and black pepper, then apply the powdered leaves. Alternatively, we would boil the leaves till the water gains a tea-like color, and use the solution to wash the wound.

I wonder if today the kids in Dupax and elsewhere still resort to this guava cure. I wonder, too, if there are still guavas in their neighborhood and, if there are any that have escaped conversion into charcoal, if the kids or even their parents are still able to identify which one is a guava from other trees in their now congested and nature-starved world!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Ariwat Memories

ONE REASON THAT made me write this piece on ariwat and, earlier, on the kallautit is the following note that was sent May 31, 2014 yet by a fellow senior now living in Canada but which I got to read only now. The note came as a comment to my Kitkitiwit Memories, one of the earliest posts I wrote for this blog. Here it is:

Charles, I was trying to google "ariwat" and came across your beautiful blog. I enjoyed reading it... it brought back childhood memories when my family lived in Binalonan, Pangasinan shortly after WW II. 

I know most of the fruits you mentioned and understood the Iluko terminologies because I also speak Ilocano and Tagalog. Every time I am served the "imported gooseberries" as toppings, the first thing that comes to my mind is the "kitkitiwit" that we used to gather as kids. 

Could you publish something about the ARIWAT (does it really cause an incision to your tongue?) and the KALLAUTIT? My mother used to tell me that when I was a very young child, I yearned for someone to gather kallautit for me when we went to visit our rice farm, because that was one of the fruits I ate early in my life. Sadly, I don't remember how it looks like, or its taste. 

I am now 72 years old living in Niagara Falls, Canada. Thank you for a well-written blog. Please keep on writing. More power to you, Charles!

Well, umuna unay, Manong, Dios ti agngina iti suratyo. It is feedback like this that keep bloggers like me realize that at least some people are finding what we share worth reading. Wen, gapu kadagiti kakailian nga adda iti ballasiw taaw a kas kadakayo, agraman dagiti padak a mailiw iti biag "when grass was green and grain was yellow" (a kas kuna tay kanta a Try to Remember), itultuloyko ti agsurat.

I do have good memories of the ariwat as it has been part of my river-loving and carabao-riding boyhood.

The plant was a vine that used to abound in the then forested river banks of the then Sitio Iiyo (now Barangay Palabotan) of Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya, where I spent most of my early childhood.

Called du-u in Isinay, its fruits come in clusters and look like lanzones in size, shape, and the brownish color of their skin. Even the color of the fruit's juicy flesh resembles the translucent white of the lanzones.

One big difference however is that while the lanzones fruit is sweet when ripe, ariwat fruits are very sour. In fact, if your standard of sourness is the green tamarind or the kalamansi, believe me the ariwat is guaranteed to make you more "mukhasim" than the mascot of the sukang Paombong.

Yes, to answer the query of our friend by the Niagara Falls, the ariwat fruit is so acidic indeed that it does make the tongue split and bleed when you chew too many of the fruits even if they become a bit tolerable and somewhat sweet when fully ripe.

I recall having had my generous share of bleeding tongue and lips when the fruits were in season and my barrio playmates and I would include ariwat-eating among our river games, alongside peeling off blood-fattened leeches from the belly of our carabaos that we used as diving board. 

In much the same manner that I have yet to find out if the ariwat also grows in Southern Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao, I have yet to know the ariwat's scientific name. I'm sure it has great potentials for propagation as an ornamental plant. Similarly, I think the fruits have medicinal properties and have good prospects for pharmacological research.

Whether the ariwat fruit is oxalic or citric, I'm not sure. But I suspect that its acid content is too much for the tongue especially if you are a kid. That is probably why folks in my barrio also used ariwat as perres (Ilocano word for fruit used to give sour flavor to food) when they would convert freshly caught and still wriggling river shrimps (lagdaw in Ilocano, ahdaw in Isinay) into kilawen a lagdaw or "jumping salad".

Oh yes, I also remember we used both the fruits and the young leaves of the ariwat as seasoning when during family picnics by the river we would cook bunog, dalag, paltat, and ar-aro (respectively called sappilan, dalah, pattat, and alalu in Isinay) along with such fresh "veggies" as pako (pau in Isinay) and balangeg (kangkong in Isinay) that back then were still abundant in the riverbanks (teyantah in Isinay) of my town.

Because the riverbanks have lost their verdant vegetation due to the combined forces of floods, overgrazing, and conversion into ricefields, nowadays the ariwat has become a rare plant in my hometown. It has been half a century, in fact, since I last saw a full-grown specimen of the vine and tasted its fruit!


Kallautit Memories

IN CASE YOU didn't notice, it has been more than a year that your Isinay Bird went on a leave of absence from the blogosphere (computerese for the world of bloggers).

No sir, I didn't have big reasons the likes of Manny Pacquiao's "shoulder tear" (said to make him go on vacation from boxing for at least six months). If you ask me for excuses, I can only tell that I went out of my blogging hole for sometime to, among other things, gather new impressions and fresh emotions en route to  recollection during tranquil times, as it were, for this blog.

Anyway, I'm back and trying to make up for the long hiatus.

Since it is summer, my thoughts and memories are going on high gear as they focus on ripe fruits that abound this time of the year in the Philippines and many parts of the tropics.

Among them is the Terminalia microcarpa, a large tree that can reach as high as 35 meters and with a canopy spread as wide as 15 meters in radius. Better known in Tagalog as kalumpit, curiously its name in other Philippine languages also begins with k and ends in t. Thus, we have kalaotit (Gaddang), kalosit (Ibanag), kallautit (Ilokano), and kallutit (Isinay).

An article in the Oct-Dec 2012 issue of the DA's BAR Digest written by Diana Rose A. de Leon says the kalumpit is a tree found commonly in dipterocarp forests of the Philippines at low and medium elevations. It can be propagated by seed and grafting and is grown as backyard fruit trees in Batangas and other parts of the country. Surprisingly, despite its wide distribution, not many Filipinos have known or seen a kalumpit tree or even got the taste of its fruit.

As the photos borrowed from the  BAR Digest show, the fruits of the kalumpit could give other trees a run for their attractiveness.

When I was growing up, there was one large tree by the side of the river in Palobotan that used to make my April-May weekends a must visit to the area. It was during such period that the kallautit had profuse fruits that attracted not only a number of fruit-feeding birds but also outdoor-loving kids like me and my barrio friends at the time.

When this riverside tree's fruits are ripe, we would prefer to go swimming near the tree so that we could feast on the fallen edibles and/or try our skills with the palsiit (slingshot) on the pirruka (bulbul) and other birds that also could not resist the invitation of the reddish and luscious kallautit fruits.

I also remember there was a much larger tree that lorded it over the top of a forested hill at the southern end of the barrio where my Ilocano grandparents used to live. We kids would know the kallautit's fruits were ripe when at noon the familiar song of the tariktik (a big bird related to the kalaw or Rufous hornbill) would be heard in the neighborhood.

Too bad, both trees are no longer there today. Yet two of my childhood friends in Palobotan are still alive and are now also senior citizens. And each time we meet we would reminisce about those bygone days when we had the whole barrio for our playground -- and abal-abal (May beetle) and rivers and birds and trees were joyful parts of our growing-up years!

Beyandah an Buksing!

SINSIMBAN MOT di napeyawusar mansu^nut diyen nanlaban da Pacquiao on Mayweather si sinnintuh siri Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Bayaw ot mantuna besan, dioy la tay ri sait di nomnom uwar si naapyar. 

Immoya^ mot otya lohom nantanom si kamote siri piyo^ uwar as-asup Carolotan. Immeyava^ mot otya lohom si baiyurar siri Palobotan ot namahut si giyun nanung an tanoman tut kompormen buen si ayu.

Lahay mot si Isinay Bird, beyaw besan u lohom inila an dioy si advertisement di osar an laban si buksing siri Dupaj.
War binuttan di sinnintuh dar ampay ya namerdit ehaw.

Mavves otya mu urian an inyap-appo^ di kampu rar dari, pasi tatahu war darit television (ma-America man o mu ma-Filipinas), an “Fight of the Century” anu tiyen pangilan otya mu siran ira Manny on Money si apaddeyan si batang on arangeyan si sintuh.

Bayaw ot, wara, awor si gulir di naapyar.

Ingong-a ri oras uwar an navayan an nanme^me-ong, nandasdasal, nandiydiyat, on nannansor an parakpakon otyan Manny si nget sorre on neyyir tuyong nan birung, papong, pasiruk, pavantu^, on pamerdit taheng ri beyandahar alaban na.

Bayaw ot, dahomar toy panay tawas boon ila ya amunglan tappi^ lohom ri sintuh di manu^ tauwar! Inayan mot di pamatoyar an amrin maselevan an right straight on left hook Manny?

Ot sare alaban nar pisya, mu marin buti^ lan buti^ on mangipit si lima inapya nar, udi toy amunglan mewot on meyongngaw poddan buwengon ri innunar an mangop-op.

Ahayhayanar ba^baon, mu labentador otya, suyut o mu mentis ri binuttan di laban di duwar darin buksingero!


Alikaha on Sait si Nomnom

Amplamu nin dattun lugar si mundo war an dioy rat nambuyat saren buksing ya dioy ta dioy rat malikaham podda, boon ila ya na-highblood, si resulta nar.

Alimbawa, dioy si nibalita an natoy anun lahay siren mampahawan an mambuybuyat libre yar an live coverage si Pac-May boxing siri Metro Manila.

Dioy pat ama anu siri Antique an binaril na ri beyuntahu nar an mae-as mot la iman, nanwala^ tay si alikaha nar mipun si saren laban si buksing.

Siri America, dioy ra anut mandemanda an bayaran Pacquiao dirat milyones. Nalugi ra ampay anu, ni^bus toy urian imbutatta^ Pacquia an dioy si aro^dah di wawanar an aveya na.

On ohavan lohom, dioy si imbalitan di TV yar an mari anun nambayar di Presidenten di beveyoyar Cambodia si posta nar para i Pacquiao.


Doddorah on Daddarama

Malilliwa tay nanung an matoy ri doddorah on daddaraman di tatahuwar an mahilig si buksing boon ila ya kampe i Manny Pacman sovret saren buksing da i Floyd Moneyweather.

Otoy ta dingnge^ pay besan ye an binawe pay anu Gayweather ri naun-unar an imbaha na an mi-oy si hamun di “Pambansang Kamao” tauwar an rematch.

Gayweather, adyo^ a, toy tin-aw u ri inngaron dat mango^ngotar an alaban Pacman. Neyir ampay anun inapya na mu marin mambuti^ on, amunglan bakla, ya pum-ot, manipit, on mangop-op i Pacman.

Otoy pay ta i-ong-ongongot anu ri Nevada Sporting Commission (or whatever) an ma-suspend anut Manny si si^nun buwen mantunat sintaw-on, mi^bus toy in-ap-ap na anu ri gi^gi^no nar an sait si aveya.

Beyandah! Nasambut mot la iman ri manu^ tauwar si panetten di tiyuwar an huradon si buksing siri Nevada, nillat osan esepon da.


Pamosong si Deyomdom

Ay bilay! Mavves lohom toy si osar an interview ra i Mayweather, in-iptaw na an ampaylamu sinambut nat Pacquiao, saludo tay anut in-aamtan Manny yar si buksing.

Osar tay an imbaha na ya umalin tu anun mampasyal on manlang-ay situ Filipinas.

Mu matuwan nantayo^to^ si pusu nar dararen in-ivtaw Mayweather, mamis an dongngen.  Mu marin bulbulataw, maserot darare an pamosong si sait si nomnom di abeveyoyan tauwar dari an mantuna besan ya mandeydeyomdom si pinangagu^ dar i Pacquiao.

Umalit tu Filipinas si Mayweather? Mu man-Iloho tau, attu ye otya savayatan tauwar: “Ket wen a, barok… isupay a mawarsiam met ti Pilipinas uray sangkakiddit iti ginabsuon nga inabakmo.” “Ala ngarud, umaykan a dagus… amangan agbaliw pay ti panunotmo yo^.”

Mavves tay otya pisya mu iluuy Mayweather ri sin-eyawas nar podda an ama na, pasi si Arizza an datin ara^dan Pacquiao si physical conditioning nar nanung nan nan-otan si kodal Mayweatherar (dohlan siya anut nambaliw espiya an nangibutatta^ mu andiye innurar sambuton si Manny).

Mavves, adyo^, toy ampaylamu besan lohom ye ya ginanapan pay Mayweather ri suhat tauwar si beveha nar. Imbaha na mot la iman an uria na mot ahayhayan an man-rematch da i Manny, udi toy “sore loser” on “coward” anu pay ri pamatu^ tauwar an Pacquiao.

Aboleyan taun umali ra ta maporoban dan man-angen tatahu ri Filipino war dari. Urian taun saiton si nomnom mu ahayhayan dan manlingaling situ Filipinas.

Bintahe taun Filipino mot diye toy segurado an miluuy ri dee yar an sports journalists on camera crew si TV.  Avvesan tau toy tsansa pay an mavuyan di entero war mundo mu aniya na serot di beveyoy tauwar Filipinas, mu sangkanan osar an pasirayaw tau ri in-aserot on in-aguapo Filipino war dari,  on mu aniya naumis di panalinu tauwar an Filipino si urumar tatahu.

Man-engat da lohom a ta urian dan beyunon di in-a-appo^ dar, pasi mara^da^waw on manbali-baliwar an ba^ba^ da.

Toy mu urian dan ipaar siri longav dar di atdi yar madahet an inugale… irasal tau ta mari ran mas-e, o mu masuwitan, o mu manbolos si in-aro^lot dar tu an mangoppah si nabobov-onar mamis/masing-aw an maan, isira, ot-ot, merienda, on pulutan siri ayon dar panlingalingan.

Boon lohom adi…

Alimbawa na ta omoy ran tun man-iyat on mangiluuy si seksi yar darin mamariit si dagat tauwar dari an panunan si serot, iilang na otya ta marin ma^duman di ngo^ngot dar si atung di soy-ang tauwar…

On iilang na ta marin asivon di pating tauwar dari ri alatar lan buwengon/bullang an aping dar!