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SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Storms and memories

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/19 June) – Time was when we were not afraid of storms or typhoons that occasionally visited our hometown by the sea, Buenavista, a place in Agusan del Norte which became known more for the folk song attached to it. With the relative predictability of
weather patterns then, people regarded the coming of each storm and the limited flooding it caused as just an inevitable natural occurrence.

Actually, our place doesn’t lie straight along the typhoon path, thanks to the cover provided by the mountains of Surigao del Norte. Yet there were a few times that strong winds managed to slip past Surigao’s protective terrain causing downpour and creating big waves.  For us the young and reckless it provided a different kind of fun and adventure aside from listening to the radio broadcasts to jot down the wind velocity to know if it was a storm, typhoon or simply a tropical depression. Well, we’re not really science buffs; we took down notes just in case our science teacher asked.

If the winds weren’t strong enough, my buddies and I would walk to the beach with only rice and fried bulad (dried fish) as baon. There we would rush out to sea and swim through the big waves with our frail bodies, yelling with amusement at each conquest. At times the children of  fishermen who lived nearby would join us in what seemed to be a risky choice of game. But as I said we were young and reckless. And on hindsight, I’d say it was more worthwhile than playing cyber games for hours.

On our way home after one of those insane outings, we passed by a fishpond where the water had overflowed. Lo and behold, several undersized bangus (milkfish) were leaping in the shallow pools that had formed near the fishpond! We exchanged telepathic glances and in a few seconds we saw ourselves striking some of the hapless fish with sticks and picking them up and then off we raced across the mangroves and coconut trees that swallowed our shadows. Later in the night the wayward bangus became pulutan for the tuba which we thought could wash away our collective guilt.

But not all of the few storms of my youth led to escapades that ended up in misdemeanors. Sometimes I would trek to the barrio where most of my maternal cousins lived and go with them to flooded rice paddies to catch haluan (mudfish) and pantat (catfish). My cousins told me these
fishes would hibernate underground during the dry season and resurface when the rains come.

One time when I didn’t feel like going to the beach or to my cousins, I simply stayed at home and read several issues of a teacher’s magazine that featured legends and fairy tales. I don’t know, but the sound of whistling wind and the heavy patter of rains brought a different sense
of joy as my mind journeyed across the pages while slurping the hot champurado that Mother prepared. I felt safe and warm despite the turbulence outside and hoped it would last longer than it did.

As I looked outside today to see the rains brought by Egay I could not help but ask myself if  there are still young and reckless people in Buenavista who love to do what we did many years ago. I wonder if the rice fields there are still filled with haluan and pantat. I wonder if a boy or a girl is reading inside his or her home while enjoying the shrill sound of the wind and the music of the rain. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at hmcmordeno@gmail.com)

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