The conditions of a solitary bird

Mid afternoon solo flight, Bulusan, August 2014

Mid afternoon solo flight viewed from our azotea, Bulusan, August 2014

An eagle (photo) reminded me again of these metaphorical haunting lines from a book I used to read when I was twenty-three:

The conditions of a solitary bird are five: 

The first, that it flies to the highest point; 

the second, that it does not suffer for company, 

not even of its own kind; 

the third, that it aims its beak to the skies; 

the fourth, that it does not have a definite color; 

the fifth, that it sings very softly. 

- San Juan de la Cruz, Dichos de Luz y Amor 
  from the book Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda

It never left me.  Several decades later,  it morphed into a kind of mantra as I journeyed on. And whenever a solitary bird crosses the sky in my viewing range, I can hear the hum of the lines in a hypnotizing note and I would become one with the bird in flight.

Photo: Alma P. Gamil

Advertisements

Marvin and his carabao in Odikin’s Pili Grove

“So what is the name of your carabao?” I asked Joseph, Marvin’s father. As an answer he laughed out loud and quipped : “We don’t give names to carabaos here. We don’t have to. It is enough that we take good care of her (the carabao is a she) — with lots of grazing areas to feed on and refreshing swamps and river to cool off.  It is our daily ritual from morning till noon to check on her needs.”

“A great help to my farming chores. The carabao carries the heavy load of copra, pili, banana produce from our farm around a kilometer from here (center of the village). I have a small ricefield to tend to and the carabao does the plowing prior to my planting.”

Mang Joseph is an upland farmer in the village of Odikin also known as Barangay Santa Barbara. Marvin is the youngest in the family. The rests are all grown up eking out a living elsewhere as urban laborers and household helps. Two teenage daughters are currently living with us in the Poblacion with one studying at the local Tesda vocational school in Bulusan.

Four days before Glenda (Typhoon Rammasun) visited the region our province included, I asked Mang Joseph if we could have a photo shoot of their family’s carabao while the weather permits it. It was a clear day and everybody was in a picnic mode. They were actually more amused about my giving attention to their utilitarian carabao as a photo subject and can’t stop giggling at the thought that I will be actually riding their “no name” carabao.

I did. And these beautiful photos of Marvin and his carabao are my souvenirs for that wonderful day!

Note: Pili trees are typhoon-resilient trees. Its buttressed trunks are designed to withstand typhoons that annually visit the region. Century-old pili trees can still be seen around the village of Odikin.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Barangay Santa Barbara, Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines, July 12, 2014

A close bond because the carabao is family says his father, Joseph.

A close bond because the carabao is family says his father, Joseph.

Marvin and his carabao dwarfed by the magnificent pili trees of Odikin.

Marvin and his carabao dwarfed by the magnificent pili trees of Odikin.

Marvin demonstrating how easily he can mount on top of the carabao with a 'siya' - a indigenous contraption for a rider to sit on the back of the carabao.

Marvin demonstrating how easily he can mount on top of the carabao with a ‘siya’ – an indigenous contraption for a rider to sit on the back of the carabao.

Marvin and their family's carabao grew up together says his father.

Marvin and their family’s carabao grew up together says his father.

A Pili grove in the village of Odikin in Bulusan provides an imposing backdrop for Marvin and his carabao.

A Pili grove in the village of Odikin in Bulusan provides an imposing backdrop for Marvin and his carabao.