Issue of November 4, 2018

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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Remembering Manong Alfred and his ‘songs’

WHEN WE WERE yet small – or before Gradeschool, our widowed mother used to leave us to the trust and care of one beloved cousin of ours: Manong Aflred Bacataen; he is now in Heaven, God rest his soul (GRHS).

HE WAS A wonderful older brother.. and a great mentor too. He taught us many things.. sang us many songs; let me reproduce one of those songs: Naxa on saya-saya, Ni ‘pansihjan tan showa; Angganeg mahintis ka, piyan tahe’n pasiya!

(The tears keep coming down so free, our parted ways so far away; And finely so beautiful you are, How I love you so much!)

Kon ombalal e bulan, kahpuren ko lay xalan; Taha la so dohngayan, xi kamen xi shoxolan!

(Next time the moon shines, I’ll grope-find my way; to where you are, I’ll be; on the mat for lying down, I’ll be!)

THE NEXT STANZA.. and continuing lines.. [sorry, manong mi), I can’t recall this time..

BUT THE TWO ending lines, I can: Anggen mababahkol ka, Agtaha dibdibkhanan; Angkhatu’d si bahkolan, Angkhatu’d si lakayon!

(Be it that you become older yet, I won’t forget you.. no, I won’t ; until even your growing-old time, until even my growing-old time!)

THIS SONG, HE would only sing it – after he had sung us all those other songs.. and after playing time.

HIS SONGS WERE either in English or Nabaloi. He had no(?) Tagalog nor Ilokano songs.. although he spoke Iluko with non-Ibaloi strangers, who came – or passed by our house.

I RECALL WITH vividness: one time, he patiently made for the three of us brothers, a little cart – out of Tangan or Tagumbao (“Psychic nut” in English).

GETTING AN OLD house-cat we had (actually, a crossbreed of a wild-cat Tavao and a tame pusa), he tied this to the cart and started singing:

“ROLL ALONG – COVERED wagon.. roll, covered wagon roll along.. xxx”. After he finished singing, he got a dried banana straw – duwett – tied same to the cat’s neck; then, motioned us to follow moving up the trail to Uncle Picad’s house.. while making gestures that: we try follow the song.. and also urge the cat-and-cart to motion, each time there was a momentary stop! At

ANOTHER TIME, MINUS the cat-and-cart, he got an old Kalshing (Ibaloi old-style, four stringed ‘guitar’) my late father had made years before.

MANONG ALFRED ADJUSTED the tones, and he sang those lines: “Down in the valley, Valley so low.. xxx”; after which he did another: “From this valley, they say: you are leaving; we shall miss your bright eyes, and your smile.. xxx”. Remembering now,

I WASN’T ABLE to grasp the full text/wordings of those songs.. I was at tender age..

THAT WAS IN our old home in Shacshac, Debköw, the seat of the traditional until the post-World War Dongbaan, or horseracing ground, of the Ikulos Ibalois and related tribes, c. 1953-54(?).

THEN THE NPC, PESI, and other big companies came.. the periods: of “occupation, construction, etc.;” until finally, the submersion or Damming of the area in 1960 – to give way to the now Binga giant reservoir. We had to “evacuate”.. [where?]

TO OUR MOTHER’S paternal property at Bingaan (Binga) – Southwest of said then newly-dammed reservoir. But

AFTER A FEW years, we had to “move out” from there, to a place called Naybaliw – literally meaning ‘across the (Agno) river’. And

THERE AGAIN(!), I met my older cousin and mentor: Alfred. I was already of Gradeschool years – in Grade V to be exact.. and Manong “Kimbes” (that was his real nickname, I just learned that time).. he was already a fully grown-up man, Baludaki mah, in fact at times ‘pestering’ (pinpinpinshowa) his elders: his own mother Insib – and the siblings of these: Uncles Agustin and Picad, aunt Saminja, and my own mother Rosenda, that he (Kimbes) wanted to get married. Agahem that! But

NONETHELESS, THERE WERE those times that Manong Kimbes (or Alfred) was his old self – as he was to us in childhood years at Debköw.. Each time

HE GOT TIPSY, he would get an old guitar we used to borrow at aunt Monica’s store and sing his songs – cowhand ‘Western’ style; or, his own compositions in Nabaloi or in the Bingaan language.

ONE IMMORTAL LEGACY he left us his younger fellows are these lines he said he heard spoken in an (American) English movie:

“Hey boy! See that man seekin’ ne testify ‘gainst you!” When some young men get at-humour, they re-quote these lines of Manong Alfred. During this year’s feasts of the Saints and the Dead, I dedicate these reflections to my parents, to all my kinsfolks.. who’ve ‘gone Beyond’ – mentioned or not-mentioned herein, and: to Manong Kimbes and all others, that each one of us remember or miss!

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