Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Pacete: The naked farmers of Negros

As I See It

THE pandemic has given me the opportunity to open the antiquated farming journal of Lolo Pedro Pacete. I was astonished to find out the animistic farming ways of our ancestors based on the wisdom of the “babaylan” who served as farm consultant of the “dalagangan,” the chosen village chief.

“Babaylan” (man or woman) is a person who has the ability to mediate with the spirit world. The farmers of “Buglas” (name of Negros Island prior to the coming of the Spaniards) based their farming skills on the formation of the “bakunawa” (the mythical snake), movement of the moon, formation of the clouds, and the rise and fall of the tide.

Planting kamote. Only men with “properties” were allowed to perform the “panudlak,” the ceremonial planting of kamote cuttings before the massive planting. The chosen farmer has to do the planting naked. It is believed that the kamote cuttings he planted will have big storage roots like his manly assets, round or oblong, expression of masculinity.

Women were not allowed to do the “panudlak.” It was believed that the cuttings planted by women would have cracked roots in ugly shape and “balantik” or root canker caused by fungus or bacteria. Even in the regular planting, women having their menstrual period were not allowed to join.

Kamote, although our favorite, has a negative connotation if applied to life. It implies having a hard time or an epic failure. Someone would ask a wife, “Ginakamote ka bala sang imo bana?” That question insinuates that the husband is not taking good care of his wife, financially and sexually.

Planting peanut. Peanut is also known as groundnut, earthnut or even monkey nut (no explanation in my grandpa’s note). It has flowers above the ground and develops pods under the ground. Peanuts are actually not nuts like the coconuts; they are legumes with hard shells.

If kamote is masculine, peanut is feminine. Ancestor farmers told us that women are recommended to do the “panudlak” for peanuts. They don’t need to go naked like the men planting kamote but they have to wear “patadyong” up to the breast level. My lolo’s note does not specify if there is something under the “patadyong” or none at all. Planting is dropping the seeds from “tagakan” (seed container) to the row. The seeds have to be covered with soil using the bare feet.

Planting peanuts by women is a very delicate act. It is expected that the pods during the harvest will have similarity also with “women heirlooms”, edible and nutty. In our generation we call a nut person crazy but our farmer ancestors believed that this pea in a nut of life.

It is compared to a man’s semen, the proof of productivity. A husband farmer had to nut for his wife so that she could be pregnant. Peanut is something sacred. That could be the reason why many prefer peanut than other nuts because of its sacredness. Many could testify for this.

Planting corn or mais. Corn is the second most important crop after rice. It is a grass yielding a cob with kernels. In the days of our ancestors, both men and women could perform the “panudlak” as long as they have complete teeth. Toothless farmers or those with incomplete teeth were not allowed to join the ritual for fear that corn cobs would develop few kernels only.

Corn, just like kamote, is a male symbol. If you undress the corn, that is nudity. If the corn is not undressed, that is a man’s property that is not circumcised. Someone who is not serious is corny.

In the days of our grandparents, the lady to be married was always reminded to check the “corn cob” of the future husband. What a check!

Without us knowing, farming is related to nudity. At the Capitol Lagoon of Negros Occidental, we have two carabao statues there... one with a naked man (by Felix Garzon) and the other one was with a woman (by Francesco Ricarrdo Monti), not naked but the shape of the body is emphasized. That means that in farming, it takes a man and a woman to plant together with their carabaos. Take good care of your carabao!


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