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Rough Cuts | The Parable of the fleas

Seemingly it follows that when a person is lazy he is also greedy. And he is that person who takes advantage at every opportunity to grab everything, more so if it would not require him too much effort to have it.

It is this characteristic of some among us Filipinos that has perpetuated the culture of dependence on fate and on the so-called manna from wherever and whoever.

In this light we feel it worthy to share one of the parables by the late Senator and former Health Secretary Dr. Juan M. Flavier in his book Parables of the Barrio, Volume VIII, Nos. 351-400. The parable is denominated as 375 and titled “Parable of the Fleas” says:

“The two fleas were in deep conversation. They were figuring out how to best make a living.

“ ‘I am tired of jumping around and working for my subsistence,’ said the first flea. ‘To begin with, I really hate jumping which I do not perform too well.’

“ ‘We have the same legs and there seems to be no difference between us,’ commented the second flea. ‘Where have you been staying all this time anyway?’

“ ‘I lived in a bedroom. Mostly under the bed so I wouldn’t get trampled on.’

“ ‘That explains it. Everytime you jumped, the bed serves as an obstruction. So you never reached your full potential. In my case, I grew up in the open fields. I can jump as high as my leg muscles would allow. Of course, blood to suck is not as easily available as in a home.’

“ ‘That is true. But these humans are smart. After the first bite on their skin, they itch and become aware of my presence. They slap so hard it can easily be the end of you. That is why I control my sucking. If you become greedy and heavy with blood, the humans catch you easily. Then they put you on the floor and crush you with their thumbnail (tirisin). I want a more secure and easy life. What do you suggest?’

“ ‘I think I have the perfect idea. My cousin tells me there is a dog nearby. We can anchor ourselves within its fur and suck all the blood we want without any disturbance.’

“So the pair of fleas found the dog and jumped onto its hairy body. They sucked all the blood their stomachs could contain. The dog simply ignored them.

“ ‘This is paradise,’ exclaimed the first flea.

“ ‘This is even better than being on welfare. All the food and no need to jump around.’

“ ‘Yes, and not the slightest danger to our lives,’ agreed the second flea.

“Eventually, the fleas multiplied until there was a whole colony of them feasting on the dog. In time, the animal could not take them anymore. The dog was old and the daily draining of its blood sapped its remaining strength. One day the dog simply collapsed and passed away.

“The fleas could not understand why the blood became dark. Soon, it ceased to flow altogether.

“ ‘We must jump out here or we will all starve,’ announced the second flea. He had been elected as their leader of the good life.

“ ‘We can’t,’ the other flea shouted. ‘We don’t know how to jump. And even if we did, our leg muscles have degenerated because we have been sitting here all our life.’

“So all of them remained. And were buried along with the dog.”

Sounds nice to hear if this is to serve as lesson to the human fleas in government.

But as stated by one of the fleas before the two found “paradise” of a haven in the dog, the humans are smart.

And even as some of these humans became the “human fleas” feeding on the blood of their fellow humans in terms of public funds that they sucked out from sources they so smartly created themselves, just slow down and then jump to where the new blood sources are available.

The common term is “balimbingan.” And the “human fleas” are called “balimbings.”

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