By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
Was that Christmas Day? Is New Year renewed hope? Again?
Oooh wow! That was a sweet and filling Christmas day. And I thought, with Christmas Day done and all the kids gone off to make their best of their short holiday vacation, twas a good time to dig out the warm woolen bonnet, woolen socks and thick soft shawl, and curl up on the couch and catch up with our favorite soap opera or sitcom ‘til New Year’s Day.
That wasn’t what happened. After Christmas Day, there was the putting of things away, the tiredness and tantrum that came along with the extended chore of cleaning off the frilly and glittering, paper-plastic garbage that the modern-day Christmas-season commerce brings.
There is too much of this kind of garbage that can ruin a household’s reuse-recycle policy. This Christmas, and several before it, make me tend to believe that we are made to buy so much garbage. Besides the plastic bags and wrapping papers, there are the grandchildren’s plastic toys, tin cans, soft drinks, cake and pie containers and even fruit salad plastic cups.
Considering that these plastics are usually re-melted plastics, I guess it has already come to “using garbage to make the season merry.” Our garbage has caught up with us, and not only because the city is trying to teach us a lesson of segregating our garbage, but more because we are generating too much garbage and are either simply irresponsible or ignorant of how to dispose of it properly. This is in addition to the city not having a proper and sufficient garbage dump or an organized system that is for the community and not also for simple profit.
As individual citizens we’d better start learning how to properly dispose our own garbage that is advantageous to the community too.
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Happy New Year! I think everyone looks forward to the coming year. It is Hope, in a way that it may bring renewed luck, prosperity, new lifeways, or something better than what it is today. Not only the Chinese, the Japanese or the Thai are sole owners to lucky charms, superstitions, cultural and traditional practices to clear the way so that that New Year Luck and Prosperity will find a straight path into our households and families. The Igorot are, too, believe it or not. The New Year or New Life starts during the planting season.
So what do we Igorots do in the ili to begin the new cycle for another prosperous and bountiful harvest?
At the start of the season at one time or another, alone or with the family and neighbors, every farmer would stand at the foot of his or her farm: the uma (swidden plot), the bangkag (rain-fed rice field), the payew (irrigated rice terrace), the pastolan (pasture). They would look to the sky and horizon, and call to the ancestors, the guarding spirits around, and to Kabunian. They may share a newly-opened jar of tapey (rice wine) or gin, a newly-butchered chicken, duck, or pig, or just his lunch pack.
They may burn a splinter of saleng (resinous pine wood) or garami (rice stalk), or simply promise their diligent service in their prayer of gratitude for the past harvest, humble but healthy protected life, the children, the land, the water, etc.
And, sincerely in their prayer, they may ask for forgiveness for misgivings, faults against fellow beings, community and guardian spirits around the abode or area they are held responsible for, or for simply being tired or lazy one day when they missed watering the vegetables, or for simply not following the traditional instructions in preparing the soil last planting time.
Then, they pray for kind and generous blessings for the coming agricultural year: a little more rain and sunshine, lesser insects, some more alingo (wild boar), gold, etc., so that there be a very bountiful harvest this year, so the whole family and the community will continue to live well and the children will have enough to go to school.
The prayer ritual would look very simple, but thoughtful and honest, and very ancient. Many Igorots, even those without their ancestral lands and traditional farms, will celebrate the New Year’s Day this way. “We will survive!”
Cheers! A reNEWing Year to all!!!