Monday, August 10, 2015

21. The Mangyan Boy

There once was a Mangyan boy who was captured by a kaingenero and was brought to the lowlands. The boy was clothed and given a Christian name. The kainginero sent the boy to school where he excelled in his class. He studied at the University of the Philippines and soon he got a scholarship in Stanford University. Meanwhile, his Mangyan parents looked for him. They travelled around Mindoro to find him but they did not have any trace of his whereabouts. Soon, they gave up hope of ever finding him. One day, the boy, who was now a scholar researching on indigenous communities, turned up in the Mangyan resettlement in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro.  He didn't recognize his parents and neither did his parents recognize him. Just then a group of Mangyan teenagers started making sounds with their kalutang, the large bamboo sticks used to pound on the ground in rhythmic harmony. The scholar noticed them and soon he was crying. He grabbed some of the sticks and joined the group recalling the sounds and rhythms that he used to enjoy as a boy. Suddenly, he recognized the surroundings where he grew up. His Mangyan parents wept as they had found their lost boy. Perhaps other memories were shared but the boy had to leave and return to the lowlands. Writing about a similar story in Argentina, Jorge Luis Borges wrote, "I wonder what he felt in that vertiginous moment when the past and the present were confused; I would like to know if the lost son was reborn and died in that moment of rapture, or if he managed to recognize, like an infant  or a dog at least, his parents and his home."

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