By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
ON New Year’s Day, my brother-in-law Jojo and his daughter Jam brought me with them to visit a lot their family purchased eight years ago at Amiya Raya Highland Homes adjacent to Banyan Ridge at Timberland Heights by Filinvest in San Mateo, Rizal. It was a panoramic view at the top, overlooking Taguig on the southern side, and perhaps Bulacan, on the northern end. Beyond is the West Philippine Sea, a thin line between the vast blue sky and the humongous human infrastructure below it. Not much green cover is seen from this vantage point, except for the fact that where I stood, the air smells clean courtesy of the remaining trees that still stands from the relentless and continuing “development” of the forested areas.
There is so much wildlife being bulldozed to oblivion, and I speak not only of the vegetation, but the life they sustain for the birds, the insects and other life forms that depend on their existence. Capital has a mean way of obliterating life even when given the choice to work with a sustainable alternative.
Jam found some peculiar brown weeds, so small they could probably survive in a terrarium or a simulated environment among urban weeds. There were also pink blooms which she identified to be wild amaranth, and we picked them too, along with the bain-bain (Ilocano word for shy), scientifically referred to as Mimosa pudica, which is also being sold in the plant market as a curiosity. My most precious find is Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris), a spectacular array of purplish pink cotton candy like plumes bursting on the hilly undeveloped portion of the area. I used to see them along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) sporadically lining up at certain portions of the roadside. These grasses, along with the white wooly ones, remind me of Sangilo, a mining community in Itogon, where I spent my days climbing mountains overlooking what I know then as “China Sea”.
A slight drizzle kissed the ground. It did not prevent us from gathering “weeds”. We had three umbrellas, and a large bag to put them all in. Jam brought a spade and dug away holes to plant the wild cosmos flower seeds everywhere she can find some loose soil. I scattered mine and allowed the wind to take them away. We both prayed for their survival and invoked the sustenance of the natural elements and the protection of the nymphs that still visit the site, a bald remnant of a forest where they once lived.
The wind brought with it a coldness, a coldness that felt warm. The kind of warmth I felt while sitting on top of a stone overlooking the Negev desert, near the retirement house of Ben Gurion at Kibbutz Sde Boker. I should have written a poem but rare moments like these snatched the verses with its magic. Magic has a way of mesmerizing, to soak in the singular experience, with no room for anything else. I felt the presence of God.
It is as if, even with all the desecration, something lives in us to give us so much hope. Something inside us make us gather seeds, strew them on the ground, where they can seed, and reseed.
This is what 2020 is, a marching order to seed the world, a vision made clear by a drizzle, spread by the warmth of the wind from the tears of nymphs.
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