About Tuba And Shabu, etc.

Thu, July 4, 2002  4:17 am

[Note: Originally posted on Kaming Danawanon, Vol VI No. 2 May-Jul 2000]

An epidemic more serious and far more debilitating than any disease is softly killing our children. Shabu is a real killer. It attacks the mind, the body and the pocket.

It’s not only the children of the city’s affluent families, also some pedicab drivers, Mitsumi employees who work long hours, istambays, boys and girls as young as 12, are hooked.

In my teens, tuba was the evil thing, a poison to society’s moral fiber.

Ironically, parents of today’s teenagers, mostly my age, could only wish their shabu-sniffing children would instead be drinking tuba, that their parents strictly prohibited them from doing.

Thank God, shabu, in my time, was not yet invented. Besides, hardly any family, other than two or three, were rich enough to get their kids addicted to mind-altering drugs.

In a way, it was a blessing that we were poor. Otherwise, most of us would have been dead by now.

When I was sixteen a liter of bahal cost only 20 centavos at Taling’s Tubaan, enough to get high and tipsy.
In the case of shabu, you have to sell your only pair of shoes to get a snort.

The after-effect of drinking tuba is not as deadly as shabu. The worst is having a morning-after head-ache. But, once you higop init sabaw kamonggay, it’s gone in an instant.

There being no drugs in my time for a short-time high, some adrenaline- pumping, death-defying stunts, did give us some natural high and kept us kids far from getting bored.

We had so much fun and adventures those days that young kids today could only imagine.

Picture a young boy of 10, chased by a bolo-weilding old man. It is a bone-chilling scene to imagine.

Yet we derived some thrill and much fun being chased around town by Dr. Palatiyo. (Atty. Naring Flores said it’s Filoteo, not Palatiyo)

He wouldn’t have hesitated to hack our back with his pinuti or split our head, being pissed off by our constant taunting and teasing.

The instant the old man drew his bolo, we would accelerate 0 – 30 mph in one second. No way Jose, he could catch.

It was unfortunate no one discovered us to try out for the Olympics. I swear to God, we broke some Olympic records when Dr. Palatiyo came running after us weilding a pinuti, sometimes a sanggot.

The old man Dr. Palatiyo or Filoteo, who lived in a payag at the back of Upland Elementary School, was not even a quack-doctor, yet would get mad when kids taunted him “Dr. Palatiyo”.

Another thrill, another high. We, the Cambiohan Boys, during some boring weekends would attack and declare war with kids on the opposite block, shooting one another with luthang.

Some days we fought each other with bamboo sticks, fashioned as swords, mimicking the moro-moro.

Supposedly a harmless war, yet there was one casualty – Pinong Bulhog.

Alex Mata struck Pinong right into his left eyeball with his espada. Pinong Bulhog not only lost an eye, he lost his last name too.

When we were off-school, we were in the pantalan, jumping from atop a banca or lansa, as high as 20 ft., and betting who could stay the longest at the bottom of the sea.

It was more death-defying than taking drugs, but then instead of destroying the mind, it built up our stamina.

One afternoon, after a tiresome diving, and relaxing under the pantalan (boardwalk), we decided to have some fun at the expense of some namasol (hook and line fishermen). Our target was Untoy Taghoy.

The man was a permanet fixture in the pantalan, whistling all day long, even while asleep. No one I knew knows his real last name, but Taghoy stuck, even when he wasn’t whistling anymore in his old age.

From dawn to dusk he was fishing at the pantalan, squatting or lying in a wooden plank, holding his line. We were right underneath, unseen by fishermen sitting by the boardwalk.

We held and made a quick pull of the fishing line, then let go as Untoy held tight his fish line.

Down below we would feel Untoy being jolted by a thunderbolt thinking a huge barracuda was making a bite. We made an effort not to laugh. We did it again . . and again. At least four times, Untoy jolted and pulled the line, then felt sorry that the big one got away. After a while the old man discovered the laughing ‘barracudas’ down underneath the boardwalk.

As soon as we heard him scream in anger, warning to throw rocks, we swam ashore as fast we could.

Had their been a timer, another Olympic swimming record would have been broken as we swam away from Untoy Taghoy’s fury.

Tired of the ocean, we could easily change direction and proceed towards the mountains bringing our tirador or eskopita (air gun). Our bird-hunting trips, most often ended up shooting somebody’s chicken, because there were no birds big enough to asal. There was great excitement and thrill, shooting other’s chicken.

Feeling some guilt, we would just go to church and confessed our sin to Padre Alcoseba:

“Padre, pasayloa ko, nakapatay ko ug manok.” But after praying the 3 Maghimaya ka Marias as penance, we went panirador or pamusil again.

We developed a skill shooting other people’s chicken, not getting caught. One false move was a huge embarrassment. There was always the possible reality of going to jail.

No fried chicken in the world tasted better than a neighbor’s chicken downed by one’s tirador, especially seeing the owner fuming mad and swearing to break the bones of the ‘kawatan’.

That was part of growing up in Danao – an unusual initiation to manhood, be able to shoot someone’s hiniktan with a tirador or paltik.

The pleasure we derived probably was more than a snort of shabu.

Warning to the young in Danao: don’t try it – because jail is no fun place to be. Besides, they may not be as wily and clever as their Tatay were. (RB)


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