As a researcher during the late nineties, I was assigned to be part of a team assisting the Subanen of Lakewood of Zamboanga del Sur in their ancestral domain claim application. As such, as part of our study of their genealogy and history, we were often situated up in the beautiful mountains of the peninsula. Just like any other mountainous area in the country where secondary forests still abound, the area has stunning sites rarely seen by many, especially city folk. During one trek, I have witnessed two mini falls opposite each other, wherein one flowed cool waters while the other felled hot. In another, while sitting on top of a hilltop with a view of the valley below, I’ve witnessed silent rain slowly creep like a grey curtain slowly covering the greenery beneath us. needless to say, the steep slopes are breathtaking even as parts of it have been ravaged in the distant past by logging concessions.
I have experienced walking in what seemed like a kilometer without ever touching the soft ground. We had skipped and hopped our way through almost a thousand felled giant trees left there to rot when the logging ban was finally put in effect decades ago. A carpet of trees totally covering a flat land is truly a sight to see; it’s like a graveyard of trees. Perhaps as a result of these, when it rains heavily there (as it usually does in mountainous areas, the wild beauty of the place puts on a different and dangerous face. We’ve witnessed many fallen timber, some large enough to demolish a house, rampage their way down through swelling rivers too perilous to cross. On a mountaintop in stormy evenings, white zigzagging lightning stab and light up parts of the forest below as though hurled by the gods in anger at the atrocities the land had been subjected to.
In the aftermath and after all this tumultuous display by nature has been exhausted, and the storms wane and lose their power without regret. It is here when the new morning comes and the beauty of the mountains is once again revealed. I liken this to how Hemingway had accurately described mornings as being ‘true at first light.’
Alas, the life we live, threaded intricately in a tapestry filled with beauty as well as ugliness and unpleasantness, joy and sorrow and all else, is not as easily predictable as the land. Our loved ones appear to be on loan to us for a brief moment before they are taken away and often, we have to ask why. Many may have described this plainly as our personal ‘rainy days’ in their attempts to lighten this reality we all must endure and they may be right.
True, after a storm has passed, it’s time to rebuild once again. Even as the raw unadulterated pain appears to be as permanent as the death of our loved one that has caused it, for our sake and our children and grandchildren, we must look forward to that still-unseen break of day after the rains.
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