Saturday, July 19, 2014

The True Tales of Pedring Rabino, Part 3

In our modern world today, where mass media, pop-culture and consumerism, by way of the idiot box (i.e., television), have infiltrated and poisoned the minds of people even in the most remote villages in the country, the talk of magical amulets, anting-anting, agimat and the unusual powers they bestow on their custodians is considered laughable, amusing, a thing of the past relegated to the confines of the over-active imagination of the old folks. Yet, the stories remain long after the characters are gone, as vivid, colourful and full of wonder today as when they were told in the past. Perhaps the magic lies not in the amulets but in the stories themselves. They offer a refreshing glimpse of simpler times, the trials and tribulations of the human condition, the spirit of community, the excesses of modern society and the fundamentals of good and evil. Personally, I believe they are still out there, a select few with the powers of the anting-anting. If we learn to drown-out the ever-increasing noise in our midst, then we will most assuredly rediscover them and celebrate their novelty once again.

Here are some of the things I have learned about the anting-anting in the course of seeking and writing about the exploits of Pedring Rabino:

Anting-Anting ng Kalabaw (The Amulet of the Carabao)

One of the most familiar magical amulets is the amulet of the carabao. The carabao is the country’s beast of burden, which has dutifully served our farmers since the advent of agriculture. After they were tamed or domesticated, they were (and still are) used to plow fields and to transport goods, much like a tractor and pick-up truck rolled into one animal. They even serve as playmates of children, especially when bathing in the local streams. Indeed, many farmers consider their carabaos as members of the family and treat them with great respect and fondness.

The carabao from which the amulet is derived is no ordinary carabao. It is called the Tamaraw, an endemic species found in the wild only in the Island of Mindoro and is now critically-endangered. Through the years, it has been recklessly hunted nearly to extinction for food and its natural habitat continues to be reduced by the unmitigated explosion of the human population in the Island.

It is said that the first tooth that is lost by a wild Tamaraw, if retrieved and kept by an individual, will bestow upon him exceptional physical strength. He will also have the ability to control and command any carabao, whether it is wild or domesticated.

It is difficult enough to decipher when a wild Tamaraw will shed its first tooth. Yet, it is even more difficult to take that first tooth from the beast. Allegedly, the Tamaraw will swallow its first tooth instinctively (perhaps due to its magical qualities) to prevent it from falling into the hands of an unintended recipient. So, even if you are astute and patient enough to determine the precise moment that the first tooth will fall, you can expect the Tamaraw to resist or even attack you if you should attempt to take away that first tooth. However, like all magical amulets, if you have a deep and profound desire to acquire it, and if your heart is in the right place and intend to use its powers for good, then you will eventually prevail.

The Amulet of the Carabao in Action

Many years ago, when asphalt was being laid over the dirt roads of Mansalay, there was an elderly farmer who was on his way home along with his carabao, which was pulling a bunch of mature and freshly cut bamboo. The clump consisted of about 8 to 10 pieces of bamboo, each about 4 to 5 inches in diameter at the base and reaching over 20 feet in length. The farmer and his carabao were going to pass through their usual route, which was the main road that had a fresh overlay of asphalt.

When one of the construction workers noticed the heavy haul of bamboo dragging behind the carabao, he requested the farmer to use the detour dirt road to avoid damaging the newly installed asphalt that needed time to congeal and harden. Seeing how much longer a distance his carabao would have to haul the bamboo through the detour, the farmer stopped and unleashed the load from the carabao. He then tied-up the clump of bamboo more securely, bent over the mid-section and effortlessly hoisted the same above his head. He proceeded to walk on the asphalt road, carefully balancing his cargo to prevent any strand of bamboo from touching the road.

To be continued . . .

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