Dream woodcarvers-A A +A
Thursday, August 23, 2012
by Florenda Pedro
I WAS so lonely leaving Baguio on the last week of July 2012. I was to depart for Malaysia. The rain was hitting the windows of the bus. I was mocking the raindrops, I constantly shake my rainmaker.
I couldn’t find the meaning of my leaving. After 42 hours of me loitering at Clark, Pamapanga, I left not for Malaysia but for Manila. I missed two flights.
A week after, I stepped on the grounds of Kuala Lumpur. I was making sense of the reason why I came here. I don’t like big cities and I never will, so that when my new local friends asked me to join them for a visit to an Orang Asal village, I was spirited. Orang Asal is what they call the Indigenous Peoples of Malaysia. The travel to the village took about an hour. I was met by handicrafts made from Pandanus leaves.
I was sensing the grounds with my palm, trying to make contact with it for I miss the soil. I was competing with the chickens. I was driving them away.
“A fox had been eating away my chickens lately. It comes in the middle of the night,” the Father of the family we visited commented as he was watching me. He spoke in Bahasa and the words need not be translated for me to understand. His tone of voice is the same with my grandfather’s when hawks came to eat his chicken.
“This is the kind of chicken we use for rituals,” I said trying to incite a conversation. “In fact we sacrificed one before I left,” I continued.
“What is your religion,” he asked.
“I don’t have, but my parents are Christianized. I did not actually do the ritual with my family, I did it with friends.” I waited for my friend to translate what I said before I continued telling my story. “It was difficult for me to get here. I missed two flights. But before travelling I dreamt of three black pigs. Black pigs for us are sacred, we sacrifice them during rituals. The pigs in my dreams are cut in the stomach and they are so bloody. I also saw knives bathed with blood. The odd thing is one weapon of our grandfathers they use for head-hunting is also covered with blood.” I further explained tidbits of our Culture in the Cordilleras with confidence that I am being understood and not being considered superficial. “Three black sacrificial pigs, two missed flights. I needed to sacrifice one animal to balance the number so that I can leave.” And yes, I was able to board the plane the third time.
“The image of blood in your dream is very vivid. It is very strong,” he talks as he was weaving the Pandanus leaves. “And you dreamt that as you were on the process of leaving. For us, when we dream, the dream happens in real life after months or years. But yours was immediate. It is indeed strong.”
I was constantly blinking. It was getting dark.
“Blood means family. Blood means your people. Blood appeared to you while you were leaving. That means connection.”
I was listening to him keenly, trying to get the essence of his Bahasa.
“You said your family is Christianized. Religion is strong, for it is a belief. It can wipe out almost everything, even your oldest memories. Those who borne your culture out to this Earth are calling you. Remember! And bring back what you can bring back, that is the call of the blood!”
I fell silent and my mind went dazed by the darkness. The chickens drove me off where I was sitting for they perched on a pole on top of me. It was time to leave.
The village we visited is home to the Meh Mari tribe. Aside from doing crafts from Pandanus leaves, they are also woodcarvers. They carve faces that appear in their dreams. For the past years, their carvings got lesser and lesser. According to them, they are losing their dreams for they are losing their forest. A big part of their land was turned to palm oil plantation, and recently another portion of their land was turned to a golf course.
Why was I brought in a foreign land? There’s a lot to reclaim from our ancestry. Dreaming is the first step. Knowing the message of the dream is next. What follows is not to be worried about, things will happen and they are not devoid of meaning.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 23, 2012.