Issue of December 14, 2014

Baguio Day Anniversary Issue
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The red–necked bird that cannot be wrong

Long before the first modern road punctured the interiors of Benguet, both the Ibaloi and Kankanaey ethno-linguistic groups have a way of knowing if the last typhoon of the year has exited the sky land.

Every November without fail, locals were on the watch for the appearance of the red-necked bird “kiling” or Siberian Ruby throat that appeared without fail after the last typhoon has faded into the distance. Incidentally, the last typhoon for the year is named “puwek di kiling” in Kankanaey (in the same manner that typhoons appearing in the months of the July to October were also named after birds). It was probably in essence a manner of marking the passing of months as the year drew to a close.

Climate change was unheard of then. And locals would rejoice every time the bird appeared with its bark-like sing-song.

It was a signal that summer has begun and villagers must prepare the rice fields for the next cropping. The bird was never wrong, year in and year out.

But then came climate change and the situation must have confused even the bird during the last 10 years since typhoons became abnormal and would occur twice in a month or even in December.

This year however marked a return to the old days when the bird appeared as October drew to a close, prompting the municipality of Kabayan to host a festivity and celebration in honor of the bird.

Mayor Faustino Aquisan put it thusly: “We are honoring the bird because it continues to be linked with our way of life and our planting season.”

The bird, he added, was a barometer of how healthy the farming environment in the old days as now.

But then came Typhoon Hagupit and concerns were raised if the bird appeared because it was confused and that the town of Kabayan celebrated rather prematurely.

Yet true enough, the typhoon never veered from its path and its passing was hardly-felt in the region. There was reason indeed to celebrate. Wara fay tafey abay-an oh?

* * * * * * * * * *

Several well-meaning career officials in government called my attention to one local media man’s propensity of re-writing published write-ups and passing this to a Metro Manila broadsheet as his own.

Some of these write-ups were published in this paper and originally carried this corner’s byline.

To be sure, this has been going on for several years now and everybody in print media whose story was used, re-written and twisted to enhance the story’s value had only one name in mind.

I have since made up my mind to ignore the fellow despite his blatant abuse of the printed word and his lack of respect for those in the profession who strove to pound the beat and to hammer out the story from the haystack of self-serving balderdash and information.

His kind almost always never rises up the profession and it is not enough to rattle the ship as the saying goes.

One government official complained to say that a Midland news story was twisted by a mile when it was sent by this fellow to the Manila broadsheet. “Worst, he put words into my mouth and made it appear as if he interviewed me,” he said, adding that he never even talked with the fellow nor had an idea how he looked like. He added he was put in a bad light before his superiors as a result.

The official said it was just a matter of time before the appropriate charges will be filed in court.

Now that is being civilized. I shudder to think when this fellow gets to meet some hot head of a government official who would not hesitate in resorting to extremes to put his message across.

This is not to condone violence but there are those who deliberately tempt the fates by twisting information for one reason or another. I can assure you however that the majority adheres to the code of their profession and while they cannot be angels as the late Steve Hamada would say, their respect for their fellow human beings remains paramount.

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