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A Filipino Story by Nick Twyford
Folklore and fairytales are not always kind stories, but we view them through a small window where nothing can get in or out. Mistakes are made and lessons learned. And there is a moral to be learned. With fairytales as with real life, whether a story is kind or not depends on when you choose to stop reading. It is worth bearing that in mind here…
Some animals are more fortunate than others. The Tamaraw buffalo are strong, the Calamian deer have antlers to fight off predators, and the crocodiles of the Agusan marsh are stealthy. But many would say that birds are the most fortunate creatures of all. Turtle certainly thought so. He was unlike the others. Where most turtles were grateful that their flippers meant they could swim in the sea, this turtle moaned that they were not wings. Where most turtles knew that their hard shells would protect them from predators, this turtle felt only a weight on his back that meant he would never be light enough to take to the skies. Flying was all he talked about, and he bored the other animals to tears by talking about it all of the time. When he wasn’t talking about flying, he was talking about himself. This particular turtle was not exactly good company.
‘You should be happy with what you’ve got,’ one of the elders told him after he had been on an especially long rant about flying. This elder was a wise and ancient beast with many scars upon his shell and many lines upon his face. The young turtles claimed the elder had once met Bathala, the caretaker of the earth. This had happened many, many years ago when Bathala had first created life. The wise elder would neither confirm nor deny this rumour, but Turtle did not care. All he cared about was flying.
Turtle’s obsession meant that he had few friends. He did not much care for the other turtles who just wanted to swim and eat. And he resented all of the birds because they could fly and he could not. But he knew that if he ever was going to fly, he would need a bird to help him. It was that or ask one of the Monsters of the Philippines, and he was smart enough to know not to interfere with them. The only creatures stupid enough to ask favours of the Aswangs and the Wakwaks were the humans, and those who asked were never seen again.
Instead, Turtle decided to ask a goose. This was long ago you understand, back in the days when animals asked each other questions. He knew that geese were very fussy birds. But they were also not particularly bright, and so Turtle thought that he would have no problem getting them to help.
The goose that Turtle chose to approach was, at the time, off to meet her flock and did not relish the thought of trying to teach a turtle how to fly - especially this turtle. It seemed like an awful lot of work.
‘My flock is migrating for the cold season and I am very busy,’ the goose told Turtle. This was partly true, but the goose also hoped to avoid hurting his feelings. After all, everybody knew that turtles could not fly no matter how determined they were.
‘I really don’t care about how busy you are,’ whined Turtle, selfishly. ‘I want to fly and I want to fly now!’
It was obvious to the goose that the insistent turtle would not take no for an answer.
‘Let me first ask my flock,’ she said, knowing full well what they would say. She could have flown off then and there, but she had either a big heart or a small brain.
The response she got from her flock was just what she expected, and the air filled with loud, derisive honks as the geese all laughed at Turtle’s ridiculous demand. Once the laughter had subsided, one goose who was more thoughtful than the others voiced an unconventional idea.
‘If two of us held a strong stick between us,’ he said, ‘then Turtle could hold on while we flew. He does have a strong beak and could surely hold the stick while in flight. He would have to be very careful,’ he added. ‘If he let go, even for a second, he would fall and he would be too heavy for us to catch.’
The goose didn’t fancy this idea very much and hoped that the thought of falling to the ground would be enough to put Turtle off the plan altogether. But, being a very selfish and single minded sort of creature, Turtle was determined to go ahead.
‘Well, Just remember to hold on as tightly as you can and never let go,’ said the goose, ‘otherwise you will fall and we will not be able to save you. You look very heavy with that shell of yours.’
‘Yes, yes, of course,’ said Turtle, utterly distracted by his own excitement. He was too busy picturing himself flying with the geese to pay heed to any warnings. He was also busy thinking how jealous his friends would be when they saw him flying high up in the sky above their heads.
And so, with Turtle’s jaw clenched firmly down on the stick held between them, the two geese took off with a whooshing sound and a flapping of their powerful wings. Having never flown before, Turtle was amazed at the myriad of sights that stretched out below him as the geese soared up into the clear blue skies: the beautiful canopy of the jungle, the winding rivers; everything he saw only served to prove to Turtle that he had witnessed far too little of the world. But rather than being humbled by the amazing sights all around him, rather than simply enjoy the experience, selfish Turtle wanted to shout out to the animals below. He wanted to brag and boast about what he could see. And he especially wanted to shout down to all of those turtles who told him that he would never fly.
And that was when he opened his mouth…
Remember how I said that folklore and fairytales are not always kind stories? Well now you see why. Our story ends with Turtle falling. But we never see him land. Does he hit the ground? He should. That is how these things work. And if he does… well there is a moral to our story. Can you guess what that moral might be?
But this is folklore and fairytale – a strange place where anything is possible, where there are talking animals who do things they know they should not do. So, for the benefit of this story, maybe he never lands. And in that respect, if Turtle falls for an eternity, doesn’t that mean he’s flying after all..?
A Filipino Story by Nick Twyford
Ang Hambog na Pagong
Ang mga alamat at kuwentong engkanto ay hindi laging may magandang wakas, nguni’t tinatanaw natin ang mga ito sa pamamagitan ng maliit na bintana kung saan walang makakapasok o makakalabas. At laging mayroong mabuting aral na natututunan. Ang kuwentong engkanto katulad ng tunay na buhay, ay maaaring maging mabuti o hindi, depende kung kailan natin piliing tumigil magbasa. Kaya, mahalaga na tandaan natin ito.
May mga hayop na masuwerte kaysa sa iba. Ang tamaraw ay malakas, ang usang Calamian ay may mga sungay panglaban sa mga mandaragit at ang buwaya ng lati ng Agusan ay nakatago ng pailalim. Nguni’t, maraming nagsasabi na ang ibon ang pinakasuwerte sa lahat ng nilikha. Yun din ang paniwala ni Pagong. Naiiba ang kanyang paniwala sa kapwa niyang pagong. Kung saan karamihan ng mga pagong ay nagpapasalamat na mayroon silang aleta kaya sila nakakalangoy sa dagat, dinaing nitong pagong na hindi naman ito pakpak. Kung saan alam ng karamihan ng mga pagong na ang kanilang matigas na balat ay proteksyon laban sa mga mandaragit, idinaing nitong pagong na pampabigat lamang ito sa kanyang likod at dahil dito ay hindi siya magiging magaan upang makalipad. Ang paglipad ang kanyang bukang-bibig, kaya’t napaiyak sa pagkabagot ang ibang mga hayop. Kapag hindi paglipad ang kanyang sinasabi, pinaguusapan niya ang tungkol sa kanyang sarili. Hindi mabuting katipunan ang pagong na ito.
“Dapat lang na maging masaya ka sa anumang mayroon ka,” anya ng isang nakatatandang pagong pagkatapos niyang magpalakat tungkol sa paglipad. Ang matandang pagong ay matalinong hayop na marami nang peklat sa kanyang balat at guhit sa kanyang mukha. Ayon sa mga batang pagong, natagpuan na ng matandang pagong si Bathala, ang tagapangalaga ng mundo. Nangyari ito noong mahabang panahong nakalipas, nang nilikha ni Bathala ang buhay sa mundo. Hindi ito pinagtibay or tinanggi ng matandang pagong, subalit binalewala ito ng batang pagong. Paglipad lamang ang mahalaga sa kanya.
Dahil sa pagkahumaling ng pagong sa paglipad, kaunti lamang ang kanyang kaibigan. Wala siyang pakialam sa ibang mga pagong na masayang lumalangoy at kumakain. At masama ang loob niya sa lahat ng ibon sapagkat kaya nilang lumipad. Nguni’t, alam niya na kailangan niya ang tulong ng ibon upang siya ay makalipad. Kung hindi, mangangailangan siya ng tulong sa mga halimaw ng Pilipinas at dahil matalino siya, hindi niya ito gagawin. Ang mga tanga lamang na nilalang na humihingi ng biyaya sa mga Aswang at Wakwak ay ang mga tao at hindi na sila muling nakikita.
Sa halip, pinasya ng pagong na tanungin ang gansa. Dapat ninyong alalahanin na noong mahabang panahong nakalipas, nagtatanong ang mga hayop sa isa’t-isa. Alam ng pagong na ang mga gansa ay mga mabubusisi na ibon. At hindi sila matalino, kaya naisip ng pagong na hindi siya magkakaroon ng problema sa paghingi niya ng tulong.
Ang gansa na nilapitan ng pagong ay papunta para tagpuin ang kanyang kawan at hindi nito nilasap turuang lumipad ang isang pagong – lalo na itong pagong na ito. Parang napakahirap na gawain ito.
“Ang aking kawan ay mangingibang lupain para sa malamig na panahon at marami akong gawain,” anya ng gansa. May katotohanan ito, nguni’t gusto din iwasan ng gansa na saktan ang kalooban ng pagong. Pagkatapos ng lahat, alam ng karamihan na hindi kaya lumipad ng mga pagong kahit gaano pa sila kasugid.
“Wala akong pakialam kahit gaano ka abala,” taghoy ng makasariling pagong. “Nais kong lumipad at nais kong lumipad ngayon na!”
Maliwanag sa gansa na hindi tatanggapin ng mapilit na pagong ang kanyang pagtanggi.
“Tatanungin ko muna ang aking kawan,” anya niya, kahit alam niya ang kanilang isasagot. Lumipad na sana siya upang iwan ang pagong, nguni’t maaaring mayroon siyang matabang puso o kaya’t maliit na utak.
Ang tugon ng kawan ay kung ano ang kanyang inaasahan, at napuno ang himpapawid ng malakas na katawatawang busina ng mga gansa sa nakakatawang hiling ng pagong. Nang huminahon ang tawanan, isang gansa na mas maaalahanin kaysa sa iba ang nagmungkahi ng isang hindi kinaugaliang ideya.
Anya niya, “Kung dalawa sa atin ay hahawak ng isang matibay na patpat, makakakapit ang pagong habang tayo’y lumilipad. Matibay ang kanyang tuka at siguradong kaya niyang humawak sa patpat habang lumilipad. Kailangan niyang mag-ingat. Kapag bumitaw siya, kahit sa isang iglap, mahuhulog siya at masyado siyang mabigat upang ating masagip.”
Hindi nagustuhan ng gansa ang kuro-kurong ito at inasam niya na ipagpapaliban ng pagong ang tangkang paglipad dahil sa hinalang paghulog sa lupa. Subalit, ang pagong ay makasarili at isang nilalang na may solong pag-iisip, kaya’t masugid niyang tinuloy ang balak.
“Tandaan lamang na kumpait ng mahigpit at huwag bibitaw,” paalala ng gansa,” kung hindi, mahuhulog ka at hindi ka naming masasagip.” “ Mukhang masyadong mabigat ang iyong talupan.”
“Oo, Oo, syempre,” tugon ng pagong, naguluhan ang pag-iisip dahil sa kasabikan. Naging abala siya sa paggunita sa paglipad kasama ang kawan ng gansa, kaya’t hindi niya pinakinggan ang anumang babala. Naging abala din siya sa panukalang maiinggit ang kanyang mga kaibigan kapag nakita siyang lumilipad sa kalangitan. Kaya’t habang ikinapit na mahigpit ang kanyang panga sa patpat, lumipad ang dalawang gansa na may dagundong na tunog at pagaspas ng kanilang malakas na pakpak. Sapagkat kahit kailanman ay di makalipad, nabighani ang pagong sa napakaraming bilang ng mga tanawin sa ibaba habang pumailanlang ang mga gansa sa malinaw na asul na kalangitan: ang magandang tabing ng gubat, ang pumupulupot na ilog; lahat na natanaw ng pagong ang nagsilbing paalala na kakaunti lamang ang nasaksihan niya sa mundo. Subalit, sa halip na maging mapagpakumbaba sa mga kagulat-gulat na tanawin sa kanyang paligid, sa halip na magalak sa kanyang karanasan, ninais ng makasariling pagong na sumigaw sa mga hayop sa ibaba. Ninais niyang ipagmalaki at ipagmayabang ang lahat ng kanyang nakikita. At higit sa lahat, ninais niyang sigawan ang lahat ng mga pagong na sinabihan siyang kailanman ay hindi siya makakalipad.
At doon niya binuksan ang kanyang tuka…….
Naalala niyo ba noong sinabi ko na ang mga alamat at kuwentong engkanto ay hindi laging may magandang wakas? Ngayon, nakikita ninyo kung bakit. Natapos ang ating kuwento sa pagkahulog ng pagong. Nguni’t hindi natin nakita kung siya ay lumapag. Nahulog ba siya sa lupa? Dapat lamang. Ganito gumana ang bawat bagay. At kung nahulog nga siya….may aral na makukuha sa ating kuwento. Kaya ba ninyong hulaan anong aral ito?
Datapwa’t ito ay isang alamat at kuwentong engkanto --- isang kakaibang lugar kung saan kahit anong bagay ay maaari, kung saan may mga nagsasalitang hayop na gumagawa ng mga bagay na hindi dapat. Kaya, para sa kapakinabangan ng kuwentong ito, maaaring hindi nahulog ang pagong sa lupa. At dahil dito, kung nahulog ang pagong ng kawalang-hanggan, hindi ba ibig sabihin na lumilipad nga siya…?
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