U.T. Aljawen in Covid time
TWICE DURING COVID time, Ugshe T. Aljawen and I met – quite by Chance; first, when he passed by the bridge near the house with two banana saplings he said he wanted to plant on the Black Saturday of April 11,2020; and second, at the common cooperative store where we all from my Sitio and neighbouring ones do our ‘marketing’. Was that a Thursday, the 7th of May?
IN SAID TWO meetings, we did share some short topics in the conversations – and we did those rapid or hurried, as our Sitios respective – his, in Sitio Jahpa and mine, in Sitio Lower Marian, were both under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) – together with the rest of Luzon Island, Philippines; during which at a later duration, Barangay Tinongdan – of which we are part, declared a ‘Lockdown’ with neighbouring Barangay Dalupirip through the strength of a: ‘Joint Executive Order, No. 01, s. 2020’.
THE EXPERIENCES AND observations we learned from each other, I now thus re-relate to you – still for Reflections and ‘Re-formats’.. in anticipation of what experts forecast as ‘neo-normal’ life among us Filipinos all, ‘after the Covid crisis shall have passed, gone, or expired’.
APO UGSHE T. Aljawen is a fellow age-bracket, Kababata, a long time friend, a frequent co-discussant, and also a ‘very close’ kin – the reason being that: we are related on both ‘sides’ (father and mother) of my ancestry.
IN ADDITION, WE have parallel or approximate physico-social features e.g. like me, he is also a senior, a retired teacher, once (he, twice) a local government official, both partly-orphaned at a young age, and so on. With these and other similar backgrounding facteurs, we sort of easily adapt to whosever’s trend of topic-discussion. Our first Conversation:
ABOUT BEING A ‘Pensioner’, “Once people know you are receiving a monthly pension, their first impression is: you got money – or cash, all-the-time; or, you never run out of it.”, complains Ugshe (whom I address as Orishian, Ibaloi for “younger kin or sibling”. He addresses me as Manong – the adopted Iluko term for “older kin or sibling”. He never uses (or doesn’t know how to use) Panguduan, the original Ibaloi word for ‘older sibling’).
‘YES, AND THEY don’t even know how much or how little, is your pension’, I added more coal into his flame; but I was smiling.
“YEAH.. OH YES! The most recent to me of that labeling..” he was saying; but paused. Then resumed:
“THIS AMELIORATION OR SAP thing. The Rural Health Workers, et. al., or whoever they asked around gave the unsolicited info that I was a Pensioner, etc.; then, my name was d e l e t e d !
“IN THE 2ND Issuance, my name they say was there – and I was hoping; but again, in the final listing, it was not there! Did not some high officials themselves declare on TV: ‘bibigyan.. lahat”, before the ECQ Extension?” he furthered.
AND I JUST answered him: ‘yes, that’s on TV.. ABS-CBN? But Orishian I also heared on TV (yes, ABS-CBN) some individuals say (of another or different issue): “Everything must be from something based on a document that is put into writing” I saw Ugshe or Orishian looking faraway but seemingly nodding close to what I said
OUR SECOND SHORT topic was: on being a Senior, or ‘Senior Citizen’. I started the argy-bargy:
‘SO, HOW IS my fellow Senior Citizen: are you treated day by day “with kindness, care, and fairness”, trying to unquote a line I read some place, though I sounded joking. And Orishian responded with:
“BUT ON THE contrary.. sometimes, I feel avoided – even ‘discriminated’ perhaps; by some comments I hear (or overhear) like: ‘how old is he now? He is stronger than Polanus (an obviously older Senior, but known Barangay-wide as “the Hiker” – frequently hiking the mountainous trail from Upper Marian to the Barangay Hall in Sitio Geweng)? What’s he doin’ here – without an escort?’ and so on.”
“AH, NEXT TIME, you overhear them with those comments, why don’t you sample them with your Alain Jacksohn Stance?’ [but I immediately changed gear, and finished with a]:
‘BUT AS YOU usually tell me, indeed, it is best to remain calm and soft-spoken. Try to understand the unmindful, regarding (or unregarding?) ones; after all, what are we identified as Seniors for?’ Ayo, Ayo, Ino!