By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
Truth is immortal; error is mortal. — Mary Baker Eddy
Goodbye, Auntie Cecile C. Afable. She was intered a bit after noon of Wednesday at the grave site of her grandmother and her mother in the Baguio cemetery at the height of an impending storm, and a brief Buddhist send-off by her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, many relatives and friends who sang some farewell hymns. I take the liberty to reprint this following poem…:
Thank you, Inay
I. Rare it is to have a mother who loved her city
And the people who made it sing: the market vendors
And the florists, and the weavers of cloth.
Rare it is to have an auntie who could encourage us.
Rare it is to have a maestra who could spur us on.
Rare it is to have a journalist who felt deep civic reponsibility.
II. Inay we never felt you didn’t have enough time for us;
Our life is so much richer for your love of the world.
III. Ah dear friend, say goodbye to Manang Cecile,
Napanen ni Auntie napanen ni Inay.
Say that she loved Baguio before Heaven.
…Which I lifted from the card sent by her children and grandchildred to say Thank You! to everyone who condoled with the family, her friends and relatives, etc.
To the oriental cultures, I somehow have come across, it is said the spirits of relatives who have gone ahead to ‘Heaven’ shall be at the welcome committee to meet those who shall later follow at the “Gates of Heaven”. The mambunong at the wake told us that it is also the same for the Ibaloi. This makes it almost imperative for the community to send through those who have just died some pasalubong or offering for those relatives who are already there lest they become unhappy, and they will be at the Gate. So that I imagined my aunt, small of frame and physical stature to be carrying so much up Mt. Pulag, and then my sleep ended abruptly. Good bye aunty and thank you very much too. May your life experience be lessons and examples to us left behind so we can fulfill our lives like you did or even better it in the service of our people and our community.
* * *
At the wake of my parents many years ago and now at my aunt’s wake, I observed, by way of conversations, that it is customary and expected of the descendants of the old “baknang” families to hold long, over-extended and rather expensive wakes considering the general economic situation of the present generation in the country.
Though it was not imposed on us by the ‘elders’ of today, it can be inconsiderate and disrespectful especially when members of the extended family or community insist on observing these practices of old that was then of a relatively richer community of a little more than a century ago.
The Ibaloi clans here were known to have owned thousands of heads of cattle, pastureland as far as the eye can see, and some private mines. The family of my grandmother (ca. 1910) bore the brunt of being discriminated and disowned by her siblings; first, because she talked to her kaising (arranged marriage) and both agreed to break the contract (made by their fathers). Then second, she fell in love later and married foreigners – two Japanese migrant workers, one after the first got killed in a freak sawmill accident. So she did not exactly “inherit” that so called economic prestige of old times.
I have watched my older cousins tassle with this kind of dilemna and put their feet down in relation to the imposition of the so-called old practices of the “baknang” v.a.v. the practices of the church, and v.a.v. being practical in the realities of today’s community.
Though I did not expect it then, I was put in that same fix too during my parent’s turn to go to which my brothers and I also shook our heads to. Is it just that some people do not see the realities of today or are they just another bunch of opportunists?
As unsettling as it is, behind the mourners, there are also people who take “liberties”, like getting away with meat, aba, drinks and camote brought to feed the sympathizing crowd of friends and relatives paying their respects.
Tsk tsk tsk. # nordis.net