THIS is how I explained the story of the people of the City of Baguio, Camp John Hay, and the indefatigable city legal officer, Melchor Rabanes to my kids - Ea, Rama, Chi, and Sam (who recently qualified for the Philippine National Science High School... congrats anak!).
There was once a girl named Little Red Riding Hood. She is an Ibaloi from Irisan.
One day, her Nana asked her to bring fresh flowers and wombok for her "Grandmamang" in preparation for the 15th Panagbenga in the concrete jungle of Baguio.
Her Grandmamang's name is Cecilia Virginia who was born on the feast day of St. Augustine but for brevity, she prefers to be called "Grandmamang".
Red was brought up by her Nana and Daddy (pronounced 'da - de') in the old Baguio way and so, growing up with Baguioans, she acceded to her Nana's request because the deed was generous and helped engender a feeling of community.
Besides, flowers and "Baguio vegetables" don't grow in the concrete jungle... only concrete pine and mushrooms scientifically known as Vendorus Illegalus.
So, she set off with her Northface backpack her mom got her from a wagwagan along Skyworld (the wagwagan in skyworld is a plane in the concrete jungle where vampires abound, sucking wallets dry in the evening).
The concrete jungle was full of wonders. There was a pine tree full of overgrown plastic butterflies, iron grass surrounding its open spaces, and houses hanging on cliffs.
But many people believed the concrete jungle was a foreboding and dangerous place because of black magic (some animals change color if only to cross the stream), cell phone snatchers and fencers.
Many who set foot in usually went home crying.
On the day of her trip, Red was however confident the eggs Grandmamang offered in the sacred Pink Sisters convent would do magic in keeping her away from harm.
On the way to Grandmamang's house somewhere along the way to John Hay where boy scouts used to camp without paying, she was waylaid by a wolf who asked 'bout the contents of her backpack.
She replied, "Wombok for vegetable salad and flowers for Panagbenga for my Grandmamang, who is certainly capable of giving all sorts of concrete jungle animals a dress down with impunity."
The wolf said, "You know, my dear, it isn't safe for a little girl to walk through this part of the jungle especially if you don't play golf or have visa card."
Red said, "I find your bigotry offensive in the extreme especially so that I've read in the now-defunct Baguio City Digest that this part of the concrete jungle is supposed to be open for everybody."
"But I will ignore it because of your status as an outcast from the Facebook animals of Baguio - the stress of which has caused you to develop your own, entirely valid, though infinitely small view that John Hay is a jungle within a jungle."
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be on my way."
Because his bourgeoisie status outside society had freed him from slavish adherence to the 19-condition the jungle gods approved in 1994, the wolf knew a quicker route to Grandmamang's house.
He burst into the house and ate Grandmamang, an entirely valid course of action for a voracious animal such as himself.
Then, unhampered by rigid, traditionalist notions of what was masculine or feminine, he put on Grandma's tapis, 36-C bra, and fuchsia blouse and crawled into bed (wink, wink).
Red entered the cottage and said, "Grandmamang, I have brought you some vegetables and flowers to salute you in your role of a wise and nurturing matriarch."
From the bed, the wolf said softly, "Come closer, child, so that I might see you."
Red said, "Oh, despite your eyes being strained from reading Kapitan Fangonon's 'Eco-composting' all in one evening... Grandmamang, what big eyes you have!"
"To count moolah with my dear... Not to mention to see loopholes in the laws of the concrete jungle so I could spare my self from paying that darn jungle treasurer," wolf said.
"They've been claming I owe them P652-Million but I couldn't care less."
Red asked, "Grandmamang, what a big nose you have?"
Wolfie answered, "To better smell the road to non-settlement of fees and getting out of tight situations my dear, he he he...."
Red: "Grandmamang, what big teeth you have!"
The wolf said, "So I could eat 'em all pies John Hay locators cook for me before they give as much as a crumb to the pesky jungle kingdom," and leaped out of bed.
He grabbed Red in his claws, intent on devouring her. Red screamed, not out of alarm at the wolf's apparent tendency toward cross-dressing, but because of his willful invasion of her personal space.
Her screams were heard by a passing lawyer named Melchor Rabanes, who was then camping.
When he burst into the cottage, he saw the melee and grabbed his ax.
But first, he issued the wolf three (3) demand letters: 1) for trying to dodge jungle regulatory fees; 2) eating all the jungle locators' cakes, 3) building his house in the middle of the jungle without permit, and of course, 4) eating Red and Grandmamang.
What would happen next?
NOTE: Readers are advised to be vigilant by reading local papers in the jungle. Only they can convince the jungle gods whether or not to help or abandon Atty. Rabanes.
Be part of the unfolding saga.(email@example.com)