September 30, 2023

CLEARLY I RECALL: a generation (or less) before me, lived a young man, in Manila, whose poems really shocked the people around him and – even us, beyond his environment. How, specifically?
HIS POEMS OR writings were unconventional – or else ‘radical’; but they were also ‘new types’, epigrammatic, and certainly striking! His spelled-out name eludes me this time, but his true initials, JGV, remains fresh, for:
IN THE UNDERGRAD, we heard of him again – that he was the object for surprise-info among his colleagues, that his brilliance really stopped dumbfounded many of his classmates, and that: he was now expelled(!) from his university for his immortal (some classmates of mine say rather ‘immoral’) lines – “Hail to the wound that never dies(?), xxx”
IF IN THESE times, he was our hero, our idol, our poetic ‘genius’; that each time one of us composed some lines of worth, we sort of joked (inside our circles): “if JGV could, why can’t I?” Those ways we did. But
TODAY, I CAN quote two immortal lines of his that I kind of link to our title-topic at hand. These lines go: “… the bees sing, the birds sting…”
I ALWAYS THOUGHT: it was just a matter of (his) Style.. or Form. But over the years, I reserved the favourable suspicion that he meant something – something more, by those unorthodox pairs: bees singing? And, birds stinging?
IN TODAY’S DISCUSSION, let us attempt on an unconventional ‘application’ of Sting – though not literally, nor in the ‘JGV-exceptional’ style. We can however, initially assign it as metaphorical or symbolic(?); which is our title and topic – the incessant or recurring ‘Sting’ of the dam-spill.
YES! EACH RUFFLING sound of the spilling dam water ushers in you the sting =int ‘that sharp, pointed pain’ that sometimes leave quickly; but, at other times – may linger a while to sting you again.. and again, etc., such that when you finally recover from the ‘ritual’, you feel you have been stung.. not just once or twice, but many times, or: over-and-over.
“HOW – OR WHY so?” you may ask. Let’s proceed discussing – with hope that those who never knew nor felt ‘the Sting’ may come to grips with it – in no matter degrees that may obtain – whether vicariously or otherwise.
VIA THE RUFFLING sound or physical sight of water spilling from the dams, you’re at once held ‘captive’ – for minutes or hours, by the experiences, recollections, memories of the Past – preceding this Sound and Sight you now behold..
TO CITE JUST a few: 1) The Inundation or Damming; 2) The Stigmata of being land-displaced – and now landless; or else floating-in-wait, for relocation; 3) Uprootal and being forgotten.
THE DAMMING OR trapping of highwater – the first time the Spillway gates were closed. In Binga, that was in 1960 (Ambuklao was dammed earlier).
I WAS NOT physically present at the spillway that time.. I had a bad boil and my mother kept watch over me, aside from her little Sari-Sari store. But
SHE AND I heard those who witnessed the actual Damming. “As the waters were rising up, 1) all fowls, reptiles, etc., were swimming frantically towards land.. xxx and 2) there were onlookers who were: shouting and shrieking… xxx 3) others were silent in tears.. xxx 4) some just kept mum and unmoving.. xxx”, etcetera.
THEIR FIRST, 2ND and third classio-descriptions were enough to make me cry in those times – I was in the Elementary, but my own parents’ second farm and home was there and my family’s favourite mother hen named Bagang was perhaps one of those swimming fowls those witnesses were narrating about.
REFLECTING ON THESE, this time.. always render me sad.. and ‘stung’ somewhat.. though some ways – I have to overcome. But ah, when the damspills come, how can you ‘just forget’?

THE STIGMATA OF being a dam-displaced. Whenever this issue surfaces, there are a lot of questions asked – some perhaps truly unguardedly e.g. were you not ‘re-located’ after? Did you receive equivalent or satisfactory payments of your damaged properties? Are you not gainfully employed by the entities or agencies that caused the damming of your areas? And so forth.
QUESTIONS LIKE THESE need not be asked – in public gatherings or festive occasions – like Cañaos, birthdays, weddings, etc. Doing so may only bring back sad memories to the dam-displaced and their descendants. These topics or questions are best handled and shot during serious, formal, and fact-finding foras or consultations.

UPROOTED AND FORGOTTEN. Of all the peoples affected by the construction of the highwater dams, those in Binga and Ambuklao feel they have been forgotten by appertaining agencies. They’ve read – or have heard of ‘happier stories’ accorded to their later (and former?) counterparts, for instance, in terms of: 1) payment of damaged properties, 2) preferential employment of truly-displaced family members, 3) relocation or resettlement sites, 4) other benefits or considerations.
FOR SPECIFIC EXAMPLE, they cite the four(?) relocation sites of the San Roque Dam ‘displaceds’? What about them: the Binga and Ambuklao families – now, the descendants?
IF THEY LISTEN well, and look seriously through the Damspill water and be sensitive enough, they could perhaps start and endeavour to research on the roots of their Uprootal, their being forgotten, etc., and thus move with resolve – with the help of their leaders native-born, towards the eventual erasure of ‘the Stings’, that often haunt and disarm them, in their moments of inter-cultural and personal encounters!