February 22, 2007

Bite

Less than a day into the Year of the Pig, and Joan already had her first serving of "accidents" forecasted for those born in the Year of the Tiger (this according to my mother-in-law).

She got bitten by a dog. Again.

So a dog is a dog, and biting is a dog thing however we look at it. It’s as natural for them as peeing on walls and tires.

But I feel especially betrayed by this mutt.

The dog belongs to our landlady, and we’ve endured its stinking pee at our doorsteps every morning since we moved into our temporary apartment last January. For the next eight months, until the renovation in our apartment is complete, Joan and I have agreed that we'll try to make friends with this hyperactive animal.

Things were looking up in the past weeks. The dog doesn’t bark as hard and stink as much as before (has he finally succeeded in killing our olfactory nerves?). We could walk near his cage without triggering a frenzy, or move around the compound without him barking at our butts.

That's why last Sunday was a surprise.

We arrived from our weekly grocery, with Joan carrying the bag of meat and poultry. I walked ahead and passed by the dog, appearing totally oblivious of him as I always did. And like before, it ignored me, giving only a few half-hearted barks.

But I walked too far ahead of Joan.

Unlike me, she could not put on the same mask of nonchalance towards dogs. She had fourteen shots of anti-rabies when she was ten, and the fear of dogs did not really disappear through the years.

She faltered in the steps, and the dog, sensing her fear, zeroed in on her and planted one canine to her left heel.





My apologies to all dog lovers, but let me just share this…

This is the first dog that I’ve personally seen bite someone, and live.

I grew up in a neighborhood that doesn’t tolerate dogs that bite.

Biting, in that part of our town, is a dog’s death sentence. Always, a dog guilty of biting anyone in a public area won’t be leaving the “crime scene” alive – somehow somebody with the guts to kill a dog will be nearby.

If the owners of an erring dog do manage to protect his or her pet, it’s a dead dog walking just the same. Chances are, the neighborhood thugs will finish the job – either by tossing poisoned food to the dog, or finding a way to have the dog served as “pulutan” in their next drinking session.

I know it’s a harsh way to treat even the erring animals. But with the town’s relative inaccessibility back then, anti-rabies were expensive and often short in supply. For the majority of the townsfolk who couldn’t afford the complete treatment, the alternative is a painful procedure that involves bleeding and several rounds of washing the wound with boiling-hot herbal concoctions.

Those were the long-gone Dark Ages, but it managed to de-sensitize much of our generation to this kind of cruelty.

My generation.

I have to admit I was murderous upon seeing all the blood oozing out of Joan’s heel. Had it not for the immediate medical attention required then, my first reaction would have been to rush to the apartment, get the old nunchuks hanging behind the door, and send the mutt to dog heaven.
But when Joan started blaming me for walking too far ahead, I bit my lips, brought her to the clinic, watched her in pain as the tests and shots come in. She is scheduled to a few more shots to complete the treatment.

The dog’s owners were apologetic and offered to pay every expense incurred for the treatment. They were kind, and must have been in similar situations before.

Deep inside, however, I was hoping to get even with the dog. The owners must have sensed this because they said, “pasensya na talaga, hindi namin siya pwedeng ipapatay.”

Sigh. I’m bad, I know.

Yesterday, I stopped by the dog’s cage, and sat next to it for a few minutes (hoping to see any sign of remorse, maybe).

He just stared back at me with sleepy eyes.

Is it the rabies taking effect? Oh please tell me you’re dying, dog.

Because I might not be able to hold back next time.

p.s. As of blog date, the dog is as healthy and noisy as ever, and his pee still stinks at our doorsteps. I've contented myself to just fantasize a gruesome demise for him when his karma catches up.

February 20, 2007

Opulence

Thank goodness the cold spell is over. The warm weather sure does wonders to my office tardiness and motivation to blog.

And so, from the handy-dandy notebook...

My uncle - Mommy's younger and only brother - celebrated his 50th birthday last December by taking on the responsibility of being "Father of the Year" for 2007.

A little background about this "Father of the Year" thing…

Every New Year's eve, my hometown Batan celebrates its grandest, most opulent social event of the year -- Father's Day. Organizing and hosting this event is the year-long responsibility of the Father of the Year.

One becomes Father of the Year by first satisfying some basic requirements: you have to be a native of Batan, or married to one, and you have to be a father (I leave the Philippine Family Code to define this).

Next is to get the blessings of the town's powerful few. I believe this is a requisite that tests the integrity of the wannabe’s family origins – just identifying who these people are could be very tricky. These individuals neither hold public office nor have their names plastered in big letters at the town plaza, but their sheer influence over the town’s affairs is unmistakable. Think Godfather. Or the Jedi Council.

And finally, for formalities, a new Father of the Year must get majority votes from eligible fathers present during the celebration. Yes, nominations are entertained and the motions of voting are still exercised, but everyone already knew who the anointed one is days before the event.

Of course there are those who misread (or completely miss out) the unspoken consensus and unwittingly take the charade in an entirely different way. Thus, the celebration of Father’s Day has seen its share of lively brawls.

So now that my uncle got the much-coveted title (with no kicks and punches thrown, thank goodness) all he has to do now is to spend a year preparing a grand party for a town that has an estimated population of over 27,000.

The Father's Day celebration in Batan has gained notoriety among those privy to its history because of the rather simple standard by which its success is measured for the past 72 years: more than the never-ending supply of food and wine, great sounds, breathtaking cultural performances and intermission numbers, the event is ultimately evaluated by the number of men (and lately, women and youngsters) who walk (or crawl) home drunk with happy smiles on their faces.

Whether tales of brawls or antics borne out of euphoric stupor, the key is to be remembered by the most number of people for the longest period of time.

What a way to end a year for such a sleepy town, and what a way for someone to leave behind his name in history.

With my uncle now wearing the legendary Father of the Year hat, 2007 will be a busy year for the clan. Ideas for souvenirs, anyone? ^^