By Estanislao Albano, Jr.
This week was filled with serious business including the ongoing move of local cooperatives, church people and farmers groups to put up a common front against the damaging effects of Rice Tarrification Law (RTL), the drawing of the battle lines over the 99 trees along the Provincial Road in Bulunao marked for cutting in compliance with the road clearing action ordered by the President and the ceaseless ills of our basic education sector. But things were not that bad or the load too heavy to smother my appreciation for the light and funny side of life.
The preparations for the farmers’ forum on the RTL sometime next week brought Fr. Claudio Bagano and me to the house of Councilor Dick Bal-o morning of Thursday to relay the request for him to take the part of explaining the law to the participants. Banter has always been a part of encounters with the lawyer legislator but he did not find my first attempt funny. After Fr. Bagano informed him of our intent, I said that one of the reasons the group chose him is that he is the Villar of the city. Thinking I was trying to say that he shares something with the graceless senator who is at the center of the tarrification fiasco, he reacted “Saan met a” (That’s not so). I had to explain that what I meant was that like Villar, he heads the committee on agriculture.
But the councilor laughed when I commented later that he has to join the fight to protect the livelihood of farmers because if farmers will be impoverished, the support of the clergy will be borne solely by the professionals like him.
Still on the RTL, there is this comment on Facebook that Senator Cynthia Villar is coming to the city on the 20th. Fr. Bagano dismissed the information as a canard but if the official does come, we can do something appropriate to the occasion, he said. I suggested that we install “For Sale” signs on the ricefields she will pass by.
Because of the high school non-reader mess which the DepEd is trying to sweep under the rug instead of solving, I sat with Mike Malamnao several times during the week. Prior to one of those discussions, we had coffee with Assistant City Budget Officer Noryn Bagano at their office. In the course of the light conversation, I recalled that in 2017 when I was still working at the City Hall as City Information Officer I had jokingly suggested that in the meantime, City Budget Officer Edgar Sannadan be referred to merely as City Officer “ta awan met ti budget” (because there is no budget). That was the time a stalemate between the executive and legislative delayed the passage of the appropriation ordinance for the longest time in the history of the LGU.
Noryn laughed when Mike shared what I earlier related to him about that time our office needed a service vehicle and went to borrow the Strada of the Human Resource Management Office. After I relayed our request, HRMO Jephte Feken had asked what will he use in the meantime and I answered he could have my XRM motorcycle jesting “Bagabagaymo ta XRMO ka met” (It perfectly befits you because you are an XRMO.)
Noryn was further entertained when I told her how Mike borrowed the defense of his father against nagging by loved ones to keep off a certain habit which harmful to the health. In our first meeting during the week, Mike had related how his daughter Frances who is my goddaughter by wedding gave him a fresh sermon on the subject of minding one’s health following the fatal stroke of one of their middle-aged relatives. Mike got her call when he was at the house of the dead relative. Frances asked him to listen to the crying and how they may soon go through the same experience if he does not stop gorging on meat. In an effort to get her off his back, he joked that he is old now anyway.
At that point of his storytelling, my mind flashed back to a conversation around 10 years ago. He was relating how he was then trying for the countless time to scare his father into quitting smoking and drinking and how his father had told him exactly the same words he told Frances: “Lakayak met laengen.” (No use. I am already old anyway.) I then remarked “Matawid gayam ti rason.” (Reasoning could be inherited.)
I learned from him that just like he is now frustrating Frances, his father also did not heed him but is now almost 80 and still smoking. I quipped: “Mabalin gayam daydiay a rason. Bagam ken Frances.” (The reasoning is good. Tell Frances.)**