Thoughts & Afterthoughts

Of Ubilaos, cops and mufflers

Noel Cabobos

By Noel Cabobos


HOPING to find remnants of the Ubilaos or the so-called fierce man-eating tribe back in the 18th century, I went to San Quintin, Pangasinan, where historians had written to have inhabited but have started to make their way to the mountains upon the exodus of immigrants from the coastal towns of Ilocos and La Union. The exodus, according to historians, had forced the Ubilaos to settle deeper into the safety of the vast forests believing they were outnumbered and outwitted by the new settlers.

The story of the Ubilaos both amused and amazed this writer and made me think that perhaps, before that time, it was this tribe that gave the Spaniards a hard time to settle in the area. The conquistadors left San Quintin sooner as planned, historical notes said, due to lack of food supplies, but it is easy to surmise that maybe it was because they were afraid of the Ubilaos.

Yes, folks, we had cannibals in our midst during that period and perhaps some of the Spaniards who were captured by the Ubilaos had been also eaten by them in the process. Who wouldn’t have the motivation to capture one if they look at the Spaniards as their staple anyway? Spanish barbeque or lechon?

By the way, before the exodus came, it was told that the Ubilaos’ settlement was at the stretch of the lango-lango creek, now home to the barrios of Casantamaria-an, Cabangaran, Gonzalo, San Pedro, and Lagasit.

If I hadn’t missed the chance to have a tete-a-tete with Engr. Alberto Marcos, head of San Quintin MPDC, I could have known more about the Ubilaos and their way of life as I was told he holds the “key” to detailed information about them. By the way, thanks to the staff of MPDC for the kind assistance.

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Honestly, a short stint at San Quintin will make one wonder if cannibals, indeed, once roamed in this laidback and peaceful town which is now full of wonderful, accommodating, and undeniably, adorable people. Some of whom, in fact, would even upset the internal balance of one’s world and make one think of trying to ask, “Can you come here and let me hold you like a baby?” But I’m glad I didn’t say that. Whew!

The next town, Umingan, I suppose, doesn’t want to be sidetracked. This town, home to vast areas of land with its majestic Caraballo Mountain and enchanting falls, most famous of them is the Amorong Falls in Brgy. San Juan and the Paksayaw Falls in Brgy. Diket, also prides itself with peace-loving people and charmingly exotic beauties. Well, too be in places like San Quintin and Umingan will only make one heave a great sigh of relief especially at this time wherein bombings and bomb threats are raging in others parts of the country.

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In other parts of the world, those found violating the laws, especially those who are supposed to enforce it, are meted with stringent penalties. In legal parlance, this is what we can qualify as an aggravating circumstance or a circumstance tending to increase the severity of the offense or of the punishment. This is so because being the enforcers themselves, they are being looked up to as models in the society, who should adhere to the tenets of the law they are vowed to enforce.

But here, some laws are being violated with impunity by the enforcers themselves and what we all do is just raise an eyebrow.

Okay, let’s look at one of these most abused cases.

We have this national law on noisy mufflers that prohibits excessive or unusual noise as provided for by Republic Act 4136 or the Transportation and Traffic Rules. Specifically, Article 4 Section 34-j of said Act provides that it is a violation when a motor vehicle is operated “in such a manner as to cause it to emit or make any unnecessary or disagreeable odor, smoke or noise.”


The law is very specific here. No disagreeable noise. That is simply the reason why when you purchase a motor vehicle, it is equipped with adequate muffler to prevent an excessive noise.

But reality check, we can see a number of motorists violating this. Worse, some policemen are also fond of having noisy mufflers with gusto and nobody is complaining.

Now, who will police them? And who will police the other violators? I don’t think they could muster the gut to do it because they don’t have the moral ascendancy in doing so. The “seasonal” LTO operatives are just as inept and inutile. This is exactly the reason why violators are free, so free at parading on the streets and on our highways their vehicles with irritating and gyrating sound, enough to annoy and pester a peaceful neighborhood especially during nighttime.

You see, we have police enforcers tasked to implement all laws and ordinances, but in the end they are fond of affording themselves inappropriate conveniences that go with being in the force. It is indeed at this moment that one can really scratch his head in disbelief and loudly say, “What the fuck!”


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AFTERTHOUGHT. “A human life has seasons much as the Earth has seasons, each time with each own…”—Rachel Naomi Remen

Life, indeed, is just like that. It has its seasons. It has its chapters. One day you will be awfully get stuck into something. Then a day will come that you just wanna close your eyes and would wish to be unmindful of the things happening around. Or maybe just lie still and think of something and, maybe, of someone.

Living life that way has its therapeutic effect. And although sometimes one frets at the slightest imperfection, sometimes he will find himself smiling and laughing at them.

But seasons of disappointment also do come in and fetches in worries and fears, which will make one realize that indeed everyone can be pretty screwed up once in a while and being hard on yourself is simply not the way to solving it.

Coping up, however, would be easy if you stick a goal in mind. Like as one climbs the toughest mountain rock. You have to bear a vision and a goal to keep to the summit and see beautiful scenes from its new vantage point. Life, I realized, is far more beautiful that way. (Comments are welcome at

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