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cecile s. yumul
cecile s yumul ANY CHILD who passed grade school can sing from memory, without skipping a beat, the lyrics to this childhood melody.

I. "Bahay kubo kahit munti"

Tragic, however I would say it; because a few more years from now, the bahay kubo will be just that—one of many songs written from a bygone generation. The landscape of many agricultural lands had radically changed since I saw them on the road trips I'd taken for the last two years. Together with this is the shift from the functional bahay kubo, blending perfectly in the ricefield, to the incongruity of a concrete house, without a lalam bale for airflow during the hot summer and for muddy water to flow under during the wet/rainy season.

Totally absurd. Not only has common sense seems to have left a many number of people, but also gone away their sense for building in harmony with one's locale. Perhaps it is to make a statement that people no longer yearn for the scent of carabao dung or freshly trampled grass after a day's labor. So now the money saved from what kind of unspeakable labor a family member does in a faraway land is spent on changing the house's look. It is not for me to dwell deeper on that here, though.

II. "Ang halaman doon ay sari-sari"

The plants and crops are found in variety. But only in the song. That was the way it ordinarily used to be. No one ever bought from the market one's daily fare of vegetables because they were most readily available from the garden plots and vines used for fences.

Together with the now vanishing bahay kubo, even the vegetables and herbs for cooking and healing are also disappearing, being taken over by bermuda grass, which is not endemic to our place. Along with the concrete house comes the altered landscape of useless imported flowers, which even the local dragonflies, butterflies, tamumu (bumblees), grasshoppers, lipaktung, etc., cannot live on. They that cannot think further than the tips of their pudgy noses.

But there is one sure consolation. Although the bahay kubo is not to be found, the plant life and vegetation cited in the song can be found in the urban center—right in the Happy Hobby Herbs Garden of Judith San Miguel-Mercado. For doing something so right, and in perfect timing with our call for going back to growing the vegetables and spices and herbs that we eat, even the regional networks are seeking out Judith’s garden.

And so, as the houses in the ricefields have taken on a twisted turn, even the looks of the people who dwell within have taken on a massive overhaul. What with face reconstruction and botox and other cosmetic surgery. For not only that the buac mais can be seen in the cornfields, but the reddish hue is now being sported atop many Juan's and Juana's heads. Again, the environmental impact of all that comes with such hairdressing is best tackled as another topic.

III. "Singkamas at talong"

Turnips and eggplants.

The singkamas used to be a daily part of the water-filled bottle meryenda stock for kids outside the perimeters of private and public schools. Refreshing and crunchy cool, it can be eaten dipped in just plain salt, or baguk, or if you wish, aslam with a combination of salt and sugar. Turnips are sold either sliced round or cut in centimeter strips. No adverse side-effects there, no matter how much you take.

The year-round produce of singkamas is also a crucial ingredient for my own recipe of siomai, at least, or for lumpiang borles, or crispy fried veggie combo rolls. Exhorbitantly expensive when bought from the hypermarts, the singkamas is one root crop that is easy to grow in yet so little space.

Life is what we make of it. Take "Bahay Kubo" (from just its first three lines) up against the impressive offers of modern life (that could just depreciate from promised comfort to appalling discomfort). Choose either to make our daily food fare healthy or greasy (but taken with risk of all the illnesses attached). Think about the next lines of the song, while I pick some balasenas to steam later for an early dinner to go with tinapa.


[About the author. A renaissance social worker, a revolutionary teacher, a supporter of artists, a trail-blazing woman of substance, Cecile S. Yumul is an embodiment of the phrase "Carpe diem!" This multi-awarded teacher/broadcast journalist started her broadcasting career over 27 years ago. Her radio/tv show "Bukas Bayan" has been on air since 1999 and is still airing with a multi-sectoral fan base. She is an accomplished cook, a mystic gardener, an actress, and a true environmentalist—a distinction she is indeed proud of.]

-Posted: 11:30 AM 11/27/14 | More of this author on eK!
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