In Batad, the village shaman can predict the couple’s future using a chicken liver. He can read the liver’s veins and interpret them.
Yes, the couple’s love and future are at the mercy of the liver. I met a couple then—an environmentalist Filipina and an Italian cook—who suggested they would try it.
I respect traditions. But I wonder if love can be restrained with such village tradition. Love itself has its own traditions that it keeps on breaking, reaffirming, modifying. Love itself changes, withers, buds anew, dies, resurrects, metamorphoses.
I believe love is hard work. I believe love is magical. I believe love lives in a cycle of death and rebirth. I believe in love.
“Ako nalang ang magdala ng bag mo,” said Darwin, a local and a guide whom I chanced upon at the saddle. But I declined. It was my own load. I had to bear it. Darwin has a pair of one of the most beautiful brown eyes I’ve ever seen. He was with Wendy, another guide who I saw a day after staggering in front of his hut while holding dos por dos in one hand and a stone in the other, threatening someone with it.
Who does not love the rusticness and remoteness of Batad? That feeling of waking up with a view of the rice terraces built by bare hands sprawling below with clouds’ shadows romancing its greeness. It was nothing short of magical, really. I was filled with gratitude looking at this magnificence I studied in my elementary years. Farmers are gods in this part of the country.
I would love to visit this place again for a longer stay. Perhaps a week. Or a month. And hopefully, not as a solo wanderer but with someone who would be silly enough to go to the village shaman and have our love predicted but would dismiss the prediction anyway.
Hoping to come back, Jona