Wednesday, November 19, 2014

For My Grandfather

An excerpt from my grandpa's dissertation on Folk Healing & Folklore in Iloilo.

The Fairy House

Manoling, a sixteen year old boy home from an exclusive boarding school in Manila once wandered into the vast orchard behind his parent’s mansion in Isabela, Negros Occidental. He saw a beautiful, colorful bird and followed it, hoping to find its nest somewhere.
He came upon a clearing where some children were playing in the yard of a neat looking cottage surrounded by magnificent blooms, the likes of which he had not seen in his mother’s garden. Being the quiet and shy type, he just watched the children from a distance, the search for the bird forgotten. But the noon day sun proved too hot for the boy and so after a few minutes, he decided to head for home.
 He found his agitated mother waiting for him, visibly irked over his delayed return. It was way past lunchtime and the food on the table had turned cold. While eating, he casually questioned his mom about the neat little cottage with magnificent blooms.
“It seems so strange, Mama. I’ve never been aware that there was a house in that area of our plantation. Was that recently built? Who are those people living there?”
Donya Cristina was astounded and for a while thought her son had simply lost his way in the hacienda. But Manoling was insistent on what he saw. It was only then that she noticed his bloodshot eyes. He did not look too well either and so his mother hastily herded him to his bedroom so he could change his clothes and lie down. By this time the young man was already delirious with fever.
 The hastily summoned family doctor diagnosed his affliction as a case of overexposure to the sun coupled with sore eyes. After three days of medication and bed rest, Manoling was as good as new. But the family driver who was also the neighborhood’s manogbulong(medicine man) cautioned him.
 “Unless they decide to show themselves, tamawos as a general rule dont like being seen by human beings. You could have gone blind  or you could have lost your way… people have been known to wander for days in their own backyard. Avoid returning to the same spot this summer.
It also seems tamawos can  also possess people. It may enter into the body of  a victim and control his behavior, all his physical senses. The victim may even show extra strength, speak in tongues and show clairvoyancy and other manifestations of the occult. 
From a dissertation presented to the College of Arts and Sciences of UP Diliman, (1980) by Dr. Moises Ponteras.

I remember reading parts of it went to the Philippines. I was in awe that it was over 850 pages, hand-typed! Then the blend of herbal medicine, ghost photos, and witch doctor stories gelled in my imagination.

He'd tease me for knowing more about U.S. history than I did. He praised me when I finished every grain of rice on my plate. (Had to unlearn that lesson, Grandpa!)

I was in awe when he climbed a coconut tree with a machete in his teeth to chop down a fresh coconut.

In college I took a Philippine history course and I interviewed him for an assignment. He told me how when the Japanese invaded the Philippines during WWII, he and a friend sold black market food and supplies along the coast. If they were caught, they would have been killed.

When I married Cory, Grandpa would quiz me on Cory's beliefs. "Is Cory Christian?" I evaded the question with, "His parents went to the Unitarian church." "Well, you can pray for him." "Yes, Grandpa."

Grandpa astounded me again when he completed his goal of translating a book of American hymns to his native dialect.

After a few years of marriage, Grandpa asked me every time I saw him, "When are you having a baby?" and I'd have to wiggle out of that.

And then he stopped asking. Because he stopped remembering.

I am glad you're at peace now. I love you.

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