Sunday, March 9, 2014

The True Tales of Pedring Rabino, Part 1

When I was a young boy and I shared the room with my baby sister, Monique, I recall that one of our maids (Leone, who hailed from Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro) was assigned to sleep with us at night. At times, Monique and I had too much energy to fall asleep and we would press Leone to recount the local horror stories of her childhood. Anything that had to do with aswang, manananggal, kapre, tiyanak, duwende etc. would be just fine and, for a brief period in our youth, these would be our bedtime stories.

During my recent visit to Mansalay early this month (February 2014), I came across an entertaining story by the late Fortunato Tolentino, recounted by his own son, who happens to be our farm manager, Ka Porek. Although it is not a horror story, it is in the same tradition as the local folklore of Leone that we enjoyed as kids. This is the first of the many "True Tales of Pedring Rabino". Although Pedring has passed-away, he is quite a legend in Mansalay in light of his anting-anting or agimat, which gave him special powers. I intend to seek and memorialize Pedring's exploits during my visits to Mansalay in the years to come.

The Stranded Six-Wheeler

There was a carpenter by the name of Fortunato Tolentino. He was born and raised in San Isidro, Batangas, where he learned his craft from his father. After the war, when Fortunato was a young man, he decided to explore the opportunities in the neighboring Island of Mindoro. Fortunato initially settled with his wife in, then, the remote town of Naujan and later moved to Roxas, Oriental Mindoro. At that time, Mindoro was filled with virgin forests with settlers few and far between. It was a haven for loggers, who exploited the timber resources with abandon.

Fortunato would usually have to work far from home to support his family. In these instances, he would return home from work once a week at most, usually hitching a ride on one of the six-wheelers hauling timber through the dirt roads of the province.

In one of these trips home from work, the six-wheeler, which was fully loaded with several massive logs, stalled just as it was approaching the peak of a steep hill. According to the driver, if only the truck stopped at the top of the hill, which had level ground, he would probably be able to repair the engine and complete his trip for the day . . . and get Fortunato home to his family.

Just as the driver and Fortunato were lamenting their situation, Pedring Rabino, an acquaintance of Fortunato, approaches them on foot from behind the truck. Pedring soon finds out their predicament and offers to help, much to their disbelief. Nevertheless, Pedring proceeded to take a spool of thread from his pocket, tied one end of the string to the front bumper of the truck and walked towards the top of the hill--while unfurling the thread from the spool.

Upon reaching the top of the hill, Pedring calls out to the driver to steer the truck as he rolls the string onto its spool. And as sure as the light of day, the truck and its trailer with massive logs slowly roll-up to the level ground at the peak of the hill.

Just barely over the shock of what Pedring had done, the driver repaired the engine in relatively short order while Fortunato invited Pedring to come along for the ride to save him the trouble of walking to his destination. Besides, Fortunato had several bottles of coconut wine waiting for him at the stall of Aling Inta at the end of the trip, which he was keen on sharing with Pedring, who had not only accomplished an astonishing feat but also would have brought Fortunato home to his family sooner than later. However, Pedring politely declined as he had another matter to attend to.

And so, the driver started the engine and the six-wheeler continued its journey towards Fortunato's home. After several more hours on the bumpy and dusty provincial road, they finally arrive at the stall of Aling Inta just as the sun was about to set. Much to the surprise of Fortunato, there was Pedring comfortably seated and getting started on his third bottle of coconut wine.

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