June 20, 2024

BEFORE COUSIN PEDRO Galate and-company’s coming (cf. Supra), there came one bright day someone calling by the front gate of the house: Tao apo! Tao apo? [Transl: “Hello, somebody there?”]
WHEN I WAS close to where he was standing, I was sure to myself: I never saw this man before.
HE INTRODUCED himself as a relative, cited some names I know, and said he was a member of the 8-plus clans, which we organized and had held in Binga, a year or so before the onset of the Pandemic.
RECOGNIZING THE NAMES he cited as well as his reference of the 8-plus clans, I let him in.
HE FIRST ASKED, after being seated, for a copy of a family tree of the 8-plus; and when I said most or all of the tree copies of the Reunion were given out during – and later: after said Reunion; that we also had kept two or three copies – for late xeroxers or borrowers to reproduce their own copies from, but even those are now gone – finally, because they ceased being returned.
GETTING FULL GRASP of my explanation, he said: ‘I see; I see. But maybe, I can ask you some questions regarding the 8-plus?’ I nodded and further assured him: “Yes, Apo; I’ll do my best!?”
AND WE PROCEEDED so – how many hours? Can’t recall exactly; but when we parted, it was nigh past 12 noon. I told him to wait a little because I was going to prepare a quick lunch for both of us, but he said he had another appointment to catch up with, including their agreed-to lunch treat. I modestly bowed and co-waved hands with him. Minutes rolled by – and later: hours after he left, I was recalling what he did:
HE TOLD ME true stories of his forbears, narrated his own experiences in the mine areas; but most especially, he shared me some ‘ethnic’ jokes that made us both burst into laughter – not just a few times, amidst my flu that time.
REFLECTING NOW AND then, I kept asking: why did he choose to visit me – for a little, ‘trivial’ matter – a family tree? How come his confidence of self truly impressed me? et cetera.
ASKING HIM TO come again in Future time, whenever he had a mind to, he said ‘Yes; of course agui’/brother (or relative); he wrote his number and name on a small paper sheet and signed: Santiago Camsol Cowboy. When I looked at him, he gave his real last name and winked to perchance signal ‘keep it just between us, ok?” I acquiesced. Finally, before Mr. Cowboy.
TWO WOMEN, ARRIVED in front of the house – past 1:00 pm. By their looks, I guessed (right!) they were tired walking or so. When later, it was time to expound what happened, they narrated:
THEIR RIDE/VEHICLE got kaputt somewhere and the owner said the two had better find some other vehicle(s) to give them a hitch ride; that further, meanwhile as the vehicle-and-driver get stranded there, they can proceed hiking. And hike, they really did.
THEY SAID THEIR plan initially was to hike uphill, up the mountains, some more – to reach the official’s house which was their original destination. But the younger one – Celia by name, suggested to find my house instead; reason being that my house was next the Sitio which was the venue of the meeting they were to attend in the morrow, while the official’s house is farther located up the mountains. And that’s why they came by my house.
THEY TOO WERE my relatives, we later discovered, not so ‘distant’ – based on our tracking conversations of the night. They cooked our dinner, made some Sabbengs (Ibaloi vinegar), and cleaned full the kitchen as well as the small guest room they slept in for the night. Next morning, they were both smiles and ready for their meeting.
WHEN THEY LEFT, I had parallel ‘imaginations’ of old Western European stories – of angels and gods who came to visit, guide, and help. Ayo, Ayo, Ino!