Ang kwento ni ‘tay baltas

Tay Baltas is the oldest man from the Tagbanua tribe. When I asked him how old he was he replied:

“ Kung iluluwa ko ang lahat ng tubig na nainom sa aking buhay, ang taong hindi marunong lumangoy ay maaring malunod.”

If I were to throw up all the water I have drank in my entire life, a man who could not swim may drown.

He told me a story about an engkantada called Consolacion. When he was much younger, he was a mangagaso. hunting for pigs. All the hunters of the tribe had a difficult time with their catch, yet he would catch two or three at a time, sometimes even four. He would make his own papag out in the forest ,stay out all night and hunt. One night he dreamt he had met a beautiful woman. She said her name was Consolacion. He woke up the next day and went down to the sapa to wash. It was there that he saw her. He said to himself,

“Totoo ito at hindi ako nananaginip.”

This is real, I am not dreaming.

Her back was turned, and so he went closer. He was about an arm’s length from her when she turned and said,

“ Kung tumagal ka pa at lumilim na, baka nakaalis na ako.”

If you took too long, it would have gotten dark and I would have left.

This was the beginning of their romance. they continued to meet and his hunt was always bountiful. Every time ‘Tay Baltas saw Consolacion, he desired her. Yet when they were together, he could never get aroused. He tried and tried, yet he said it became almost impossible. He told her about his situation, and she told him to hunt and to make an offering of two pigs. He did this, and the next time they saw each other, they made love. It was also because of this that ‘Tay Baltas took interest in other women one of them asked him to stay with her. Consolacion found out about this yet she saw ‘Tay Baltas once more. Before they parted, she told Baltasar

“Mayroong tumutubo sa loob ko.”

There is something growing inside of me.

He never saw her again.

“Mahaba ang kaniyang buhok at kutis kayumanggi. Siya’y nakapalda, at kapag naglakad, maraming kulay ang sumusunod.”

Her hair was long, her skin was brown. She was wearing a skirt, and when she walked, a million colours followed.

June 1, 2003