Passion, prayer and remembrance
By Virginia J. Pasalo
Things I remember during Pangasinan’s 437th Founding Anniversary:
The Ecumenical Prayer. I was expecting a prayer that was not read on paper, but delivered with the passion of one inspired by God, with each word reverberating with the energy from its holy source. I was looking for a Muslim representative among those who recited the prayer, like the previous years where they gave praise to Allah and blessed the province they have adopted as their own. I was hoping for a woman to be part of the ecumenical prayer, to balance the energy given off by patriarchal leadership still dominating our temporal and spiritual superstructures. Above all, I was waiting for at least one prayer, in Pangasinan.
The Guest Speaker. Ms. Rebecca Bustamante-Mills is a modern-day Urduja. However, unlike Urduja who promised to marry only the man who will beat her in battle, Rebecca married the man she had targeted before he had a clue, and engaged him in a personal battle she had mapped out for herself, a mission to strike out the poverty-mindset that stops people from achieving their fullest potential. Find your passion, she said, and stick to it with hard work and faith. And the clueless shall follow.
Koro de Tayug. The singing of the Pangasinan Hymn had the texture of sea salt. It had a peculiar bite. It seemed like the sea came to sing with the accompaniment of the angklung, a touching song of praise, a fervent prayer. It had a gentle power and a genteel air without the arrogance and lack of delicacy of hallelujahs we are being made to hear and accept from the new choir, Coro de Mala Palabra.
I Love You Pangasinan. Repeated aloud so many times in front of everyone, sounded like the mantra of philandering husbands who want to convince their wives of their fidelity and undying love, but go home at four o’clock in the morning smelling of the essence of another woman’s body. Quit the Coro del Anuncio Público del Amor, love with urgency and passion, incessantly working towards the satisfaction of the beloved. Love is best in quiet communion, in the absence of words. And then maybe, in the motion of stillness and darkness, love can bear fruits.
Presence of the absent. I remember a lot of people, whose energies are infectious and warm, whose smiles pervade my consciousness, long after their laughter had gone. I miss most of all, the cordial conversations with old friends and strangers, and the tight embraces that squeeze their way into depths you never suspected existed within you. I will remember the genuineness of these sacred encounters.
I imprisoned your smile in a bottle
of distilled blue agave
that it may ferment
a quintessence of refinement
a shot to be taken, once again
an intoxicating presence
with the licking of salt
and the sucking of lime.
now that you are gone
and only a scent hints
at what remains
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