Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Rites Of May

MY ATTEMPT TO WRITE a children's story turned out to be a tad gory, but that's okay; Mindoro kids need to be freaked out to behave and go to sleep. This old story, a satire on how we respond by instinct to the unfamiliar, previously appeared in Mikrokosmos (sorry, I don't post unpublished stories), fiction then edited by lovely classmate Janet Peery. When Albie Goldbarth told us to bring our favorite poem to class, Janet brought in the same one I did: ''Fern Hill'' by Dylan Thomas, and she hasn't quite forgotten that. Reposting this short piece, in kaingin Rousseau, for the feast of San Isidro Labrador (May 15), the patron saint of farmers and laborers, and of proper Bansud, Oriental Mindoro. Credits go to Emil Nolde, Leonard Everett and Jean Lepautre for the woodcuts. Moral lesson from the story? Don't jump into a granary of mungbean seeds when playing hide-and-seek.

Kids with San Isidro Labrador on the pier in Bansud, Oriental Mindoro. Photo by Nonoy Millares
A Mangyan family  preparing dinner inside their hut with light from kerosene lamps. The women are removing peas from beans collected in the field, which will be used to make a tasty dinner. Photo and caption by Jacob Maentz


  1. Mon, I loved reading this very Filipino tale, so rich in imagery and Filipino flavour! You captured sights and sounds of "home" that we each, in our unique ways, carry in our hearts as we live out our stories in various corners of the world. I was very touched by the couple's love for their child, and by their devotion to each other. I felt sadness and frustration over the judgmental and superstitious reactions Ludringo and Inya received from the townsfolk. I read one part over and over--where Ludringo tried to crack a joke because he noticed Inya's disappointment. The moment held a swift exchange of quiet emotions and reactions between the couple, all described with a minimum of carefully chosen words. I had to pause and reread the section to let all the complex dynamics sink in! A moment sometimes carries such weighty feelings. I also loved how, later in the story, the couple expressed their quiet optimism, not with words, but through their energetic work. The images are a special treat for Filipino readers like me who read the English metaphors and hear them in Tagalog! That is one joy of this Filipino folktale you've shared with us. The other is the assurance that we carry our love for home in our hearts and continue to draw on the strength of our roots while we work on our dreams and carve out the paths of our new lives all over the world. Thank you, Mon!

  2. Thank you Cynch, my intelligent Ateneo clasmate, for this generous reading! I'll reply after this crazy 4th of July. Enjoy the holiday!