STRIKE HOME| ‘Magpabilin ang de malas Mag-uban ang de buenas’

FOR ONCE, I was able to join the missus and our five-year old grand-daughter Consuelo at her ancestral home in barangay Boso-buso, at the southern tip of Gov. Generoso in Davao Oriental on November 1-2.

It used to be a sleepy village that could be reached by a dirt road in the early 1990s or by pump boat along the coast. Today, the two-lane highway is well-paved all the way to where a lighthouse has been erected as a beckon to fishermen at the southern tip of the Davao Gulf.

A bus line travels the route regularly so I was not surprised to see a crowd already gathered when we arrived.

It was a reunion of sorts, an annual gathering for relatives from the cities who came together to renew ties and to pay their respects to the dead.

On November 1, we joined kinfolk in trekking to a cemetery on a rocky corner of a village that overlooks the sea.

Here, my grandchild and I joined her grandma and her relatives in lighting candles in front of several graves.

Bottles of cheap liquor were placed atop several graves while flowers were laid to rest on the others.

We joined in the prayers which were said mostly in Dabawenyo or Mandaya for that matter. That done, somebody gathered dried coconut palm stalks and then built a small fire which he promptly covered with leaves to induce smoke.

Then as if on signal, one after the other stepped over the smoke with one final wish or prayer. I heard my brother-in-law clearly through the din of voices: “Magpabilin ang de-malas, mag-uban ang de-buenas” which I understood to mean ‘let bad luck stay behind but let good luck accompany us.’

I was also told not to look back but to walk straight ahead.

The experience, I told Carmelito Francisco, this paper’s managing editor who speaks Dabawenyo, was totally new to me, especially that final wish aspect over a pile of smoke.

Looking back, however, I could not help but appreciate the location of that quaint cemetery hidden at the back of that village. Not only was it covered from view by trees but was it was also located close to the coast, in a case of the dead having the best of both worlds.

In contrast, I recall that the worst cemetery I saw was in Dagupan City which I stumbled upon during my stint as editor of Sun.Star Dagupan in 1996-97.

One day, the city’s historian took me along to show me the spot where (in his opinion) General MacArthur’s liberation forces landed in 1945 and not in Lingayen (the capital) as written in history books.

True enough, we arrived at a beach site where a marker was erected in honor of the American general. But what caught my attention was not the marker but the nearby cemetery located so close to o shore. But if that was not worrisome enough for the dead, the pile of mixed garbage dumped on the edge of the cemetery and over several rows of graves was certainly disconcerting enough—the cemetery turned into an open dump with the sea water chipping away at the dump during high tide.

My colleagues said the dump remains to this day.

So I can understand why President Duterte has ruled out being buried one day at the Libingan ng Bayani just in case it was his time to ride into the sunset.

With the bar on gets to be buried at the Libingan already lowered and demeaned many times, it won’t be long when even garbage gets to be dumped at the Libingan.

Beside his parents’ graves one day, Duterte will have no such worry. (JKL)

Posted in Opinion