Who you are is the cause?

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By Robert L. Domoguen

Mountain Light

Monday, April 21, 2014


EVERY DAY I wake up sees me confronting a thought that I follow wherever it leads. That is not easy because one thought leads to another and it opens up for me a bombardment of dizzying thoughts more than I can handle on some occasions.

I have not developed a method to shift through my thoughts, analyze and pin down what I make of them or understand why I am like this, except that I have been sauntering all these years. These days, I am a "home guy" and I figure it is bad. I fear I cannot "weather-beat" what comes to mind with a leisurely walk this time. I find another way of evading by watching movies to dull the mind.

In our high school days, strolling with friends during class breaks brought us around the neighborhood, breathe the air as we talked and walked. It always brought us where we started, the school gate and back to our lessons.

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Was it a diversion from the lessons and class work? No. For all its worth, it made us feel connected to the world around us, not just the four walls of a classroom. Come to think of it. My sauntering did get me into my own youthful adventures along with my thoughts.

When my big brother was 19 years old, he worked in the Suyoc Mines some 30 kilometers away from where we lived in Lepanto. In one of his visit, he did not take the roads but hiked crossing a mountain down to the Nayak creek that leads to Barangay Sapid and out into the golf course of the Lepanto Mines. It took him just more than two hours to do that. It was a short cut and I imagined it was fun. It actually resolved for me this problem of spending weekends with my brother in a place where we grew up during our elementary days.

We cut a deal on that basis. I will visit him on weekends using his trail and leaving early in the morning. If I am not in his place past beyond 12 noon, he will take the same route until he is home. He never took that route to come looking for me. We spent our time together with his friends in the billiard hall, or we went fishing mudfish in the rice fields of Suyoc, not yet converted into vegetable gardens as they are now by the owners.

For me going to Suyoc was on a fast walk. Returning home was different. I sauntered and picked up black berries along the way. I ate some of the fruits and the rest, I brought home along with the live mudfish that we packed in emptied bottles of gin. That trail did not only offer an adventure but for a boy my age, it gifted me with time and lot of space to understand a few lessons in life. For instance, I learned that not all spring water is safe. There is this wise advice against gulping water if you are thirsty during a long hike. Along that trail, a spring flowed with clear but bitter, sour and poisonous water. You can avoid this kind of water if you know how to lap like a dog does.

I also learned that aside from tunneling the mountain of Palasa-an, the natives panned the sands of the Nayak creek for gold. Gold mining in this part of the country goes back a long way.

Besides mining, my brother's trail taught me how legged, crawling and flying creatures mark their territory and identity with ferocity and violence. In this life, the human concept of "gangana-et" or in English, foreigner, immigrant and intruder to non-human beings is instinctive. You avoid, evade, run or fight, maim and terminate those that take you by surprise and mean you harm. Survival in nature has never been kind.

"The lion and the kid together in a garden," is a biblical concept and vision. No matter, how we try to make that a part of our civilization, it remains an impossible objective. Our professions and methods of "taming" do not work. We have not tamed our ferocities and violence to our own kind.

Perhaps if humanity behave and is as "harmless as a kid" the world will be at peace. The "lion and the kid together" is a word image that depicts for me what our world desperately needs. Violence and ferocities in its evil forms and ends have made us the problem not the solution.

I have read last week, about our leaders holding a summit on autonomy before the end of this month. The autonomy has gone sauntering for a long time. I hope our leaders are coming to the table with lots of lessons on how we can live our lives in the most ancient and indigenous way as inhabitants of the Cordillera. We cannot unite unless we know how to master our lions (inherent in all of us) and be harmless to each other like a child. As leaders, I assume they would come in and out of the summit, agreeing and sworn on the methods to do that.

As for me, a sauntering man now "home guy," I love the Philippine's Cordillera with its own singularity and pluralities that lasts for the sake of all Cordillerans and Filipinos alike!

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on April 22, 2014.

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