Something light

By Estanislao Albano, Jr.

“ I asked her if she was staying behind and commented that flowers are all the same. But it was as though she did not hear me.”

The nickname of Federico Bermudez, Jr., one of the most reliable drivers in our barangay, is Balbalkot. I never got to ask how the name originated but in Ilocano, “balkot” is “to wrap.” He is ambivalent about being called by his nickname because sometimes he is offended and sometimes he does not mind. I notice that when you shorten it to “Bal,” it is okey with him.
One time in Baguio around a decade ago, while seated at the at the back of the van, I called him by his full nickname. He was then seated behind the wheels as we were about to embark. He did not respond so I called out “Balbalkot” again and still he was silent. Sensing that it was the way I called him, Florence told me “Junior kunam ngamin.” (You call him Junior.)
All the more he ignored me because I was unable to resist telling him “Bal, apay Juniorka gayam? Kayatmo saoen Balbalkot met laeng nagan ni tatangmo?” (Bal, you mean you are Junior? The name of your father is also Balbalkot?)
Another driver related to me how at one time while driving for a Mason, they had a headache because they had a flat tire and they forgot to bring the needed tool. According to him, the Mason stood on the side of the road and made some signals and very soon, a vehicle stopped and of course, out came a Mason. Upon learning the problem, the other Mason directed his driver to changed their tire.
Me: “Ket tinulongam a?” (You helped?)
Driver: “Saan. Binuyak lattan a.” (No. I just watched.)
Me: “Agyamanka ta dakayo ti narescue ta no dakayo ti nagrescue, sika ti binuya diay driver diay maysa a Mason a nagsukat ti pilid.” (Be thankful because it was not the other way round otherwise it would have been you changing the tire all by yourself.)
At church last Sunday, we happened to sit behind a churchgoer with a chained wallet. Florence who seldom laughs at my jokes silently shook in mirth when I whispered to her “Baka adda kapadasanna ditoy.” (He must have had some experience here.)
There a sort of conflict when Florence and I travel because she is time-conscious when it is me stopping the vehicle which is usually to take photos of sights that attract my attention and think are worth documenting but she would expect me to just grin and bear it when she stops at flower gardens and other places. Coming home from Baguio last Wednesday, we stopped so I could take photos of two streams and the forest around at Bukod and then Kayapa. After clicking away at the first stop –
Me (still looking around): Nagpintas ditoy. (It’s beautiful here.)
Florence (from the window): Ket agbatikan ngarud? (So are you staying behind?)
Further down the road I attempted to get down again but Florence said: “Saanen. Agpapada met laeng amin a pine trees.” (Don’t. Pine trees look all the same.)
I had the chance to use her own dialogue on her at the Gonzalvo Garden in Cabatuan, Isabela, the second flower garden she stopped at this trip. I asked her if she was staying behind and commented that flowers are all the same. But it was as though she did not hear me.
My habitual stinginess when it comes to my XRM’s fuel is a continuing subject of ribbing by my brothers-in-law Mike, James and Napo. I rarely spend P50.00 in one filling — before the price of gasoline breached P50.00 per liter. One time several years ago, Mike gave new meaning to the F and E in the fuel gauge saying that the F is for Florence and the E is Estanislao.
Around a month ago when we went to Baguio, he asked for the key of the motorcycle. When we got back –
Mike: “Idi napanak idiay gasolinaan idi kargaanda ti motormo ket ipukpukkawna ketdin nga “P50 laeng! P50 laeng! Madina ti ad-adu ngem P50.”” (When I went to the gasoline station, your motorcycle yelled “Only P50, only P50!” It did want to be filled beyond P50.)
Napo: “Uray siak nanggegko met laeng diay pukkawna idi addaak idiay talon.” (Even me I heard the shout while I was in the field.)
In the morning after the eye of Ompong had passed, Florence and I went to survey the damage so far has inflicted on the Casigayan Elementary School. Florence was happy to note that the window of her room she had asked fellow teacher Zander Balacang to nail shut remained shut explaining to me that it had flung open during typhoon Lawin.
Then came the wallop: “Dagidiay ngay piman assawa ti teachers ket immayda nakitulong nagsagana ti iyu-umay ti bagyo malaksid da David nga agkabsat.” (The husbands of teachers came to help prepare for the storm except for David and his brother.)
I walked away leaving her standing there. David is my brother and his wife Rosilie also teaches in the school.**

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