Three Days Ago
Steffan narrates his vacation.
We were staying at this small resort in Naga, Cebu just maybe a mile after this cement factory.
Someone lit a joint after lunch. We were kind of bored and having the munchies, so it was our second day I suppose and we have not explored the place yet.
We decided to walk all the way and find some food on the road. We found several sari-sari stores and bought a few junk foods along the way.
But we were still craving for food, and we also heard someone was selling weed just about a mile or less.
For some reason looking back at it now, I think we made a wrong turn, we were supposed to turn left on the big main road, but my pal Dipsy turned left on that small road besides the cement factory.
“Hey Dip, this is not the road man.”
“Dude where’s your sense of adventure man? Plus we get to know the natives around here.”
So on we went. There were motorcycle rides or motorcycle taxis they call habal-habal the drivers will take you anywhere, well almost.
So we asked them where we could buy a joint.
One of them callously said the M word.
“ahhh… you mean marijuana; sure it’s up there not far, very near” as he points with his mouse puckering it, kissing gesture, a typical act of the Visayans when pointing to a place that is actually far.
I didn’t quite get it yet, when we asked them if it’s near they said yes, and everyone did the same lip gesture as the first guy.
Before we could go, one of them suggested that a bike should take them there.
“You guys should take a bike, for 200 pesos”
“What 200 bucks, why if it’s just near?”
One of the drivers chuckled, “Actually it’s not near, well, it is if you take the bike, and hire one of the drivers. When someone points with his mouth and says that it’s near, it is near to them, but at least it’s about five kilometers walk.”
“Okay so, we’ll hire you.”
“Are you crazy? I’m not going up there.”
“Add in an extra 100 bucks and I’ll even wait for you guys, but don’t stay for an hour.”
Then the rest of the drivers seemed to be looking at him with scorn.
“Hey Dipsy, you are paying for this man.”
“Relax man I got you covered.”
So off we went in a small motorcycle all three of us, the road was bad I think, it was bumpy, or maybe it wasn’t anyway Dipsy lit another joint while we were slowly going up the hill.
We were really stoned when we arrived at the place.
There was a large clearing on the side of the road, with trees at the back of the small house. There were people gathered around it.
The driver drove us just halfway between the house and the road; he says that this was as far as he can go, in case anything happens he’s going to leave us.
I kind of felt really strange because we already paid him in full and another extra 300 bucks to get us back down, I think he was conning us, or stealing from right under our noses because we were so fucking stoned.
He also said something weird, I thought it was just the joint.
“Just to be fair with you guys, don’t accept anything that they give you for free.”
So Dipsy said, “what?”
And I said, “what?” or was it “yeah”
“Those people there at the house are relatives, the old lady who lives there has been bed ridden for a year now, and they usually come at this hour to check on her.”
I just thought that these Filipinos are wonderful, taking care of distant relatives and all that, something that I don’t see much, where I am from.
As we approached the house we heard one relative say.
“Maybe this guy will accept it?”
“Accept what? I’ll accept anything as long as it is free man.”
I hi-fived the relatives and smiled, well I was always smiling. Everyone seems to be happy they all smiled back, it was eerie, looking back at it now and ominous. Maybe it was the jutes.
Anyway, one of the relatives approached me and said…
“There is a little symbolic ritual that we have in some families, but I implore you not to accept it.”
“Why?” Meanwhile I saw Dipsy talking to one of the relatives and then he left Dipsy.
“You’d become a monster, like ah… a vampire.”
“A vampire, you gotta be kidding, how come she is alive when it’s daylight.”
“None of us will accept it, no one wants to.”
By this time one of the relatives brought two fully dried whole marijuana plants and gave it to Dipsy.
Then, I heard Dipsy complaining about something to hide it like a bag. He just gave him one big trash bag size semi-transparent plastic bag.
Come to think of it, it didn’t look much in the bag and looked like vegetables.
So I was feeling confident and I opened my mouth again because of that joint.
“Sure man, I’ll accept that, what is it?”
“A bahandi may be like a kabilin” the man stammers for a good translation, “you can say it is like an heirloom passed from one generation to another a heritage of the ancient Visayan wakwak of old.”
“Heirloom? That has got to be interesting, why not.”
Everyone looked at him, there was silence, again there was a sense of weirdness, but I thought again that I was just tripping.
“Okay, okay…” so he looks on one of his relatives at the door and nods at him. “Let me introduce you to our great grand aunt. Come.”
So I followed him and I said to his aunt “Hello, I’m willing to accept… whatever you would want to give me.”
“la… lola” he wakes her up, then he looks at me “This is my great grand aunt Filomena”
Then he looked back at her and he said something to her, I didn’t understand what it was.