Sunday, July 26, 2009

Conversations - Tabada: Why doctors become nurses

Periodically, we will post from the Babaylan Yahoo Group archives. The links offered invite the reader to study, reflect, meditate on the content of these materials. Some of the texts are journalistic in nature, some are scholarly, some are personal anecdotes. Please pay attention to the sources and references.

Sunday, March 02, 2003
Tabada: Why doctors become nurses
By Mayette Q. Tabada

One night the serpent in the sky swallowed the moon, and a boy in the village kept his mother awake with his questions.

—Nanay, where has the moon gone?

—Binacunauahan ang bulan, anak.

Despite the darkness in their room, the mother saw the confusion in her son’s eyes.

So she lifted her left arm and made it undulate in the liquid dark. Her son’s eyes followed that slithering arm.

—Our people believe there is a sawa, a large snake that lives in the sky, the underworld or the sea.

She bent her right hand at the wrist, making a broken tail that had been stepped upon.

—People across the sea call it the naga but in our shores we call it the bakunawa. Bent (bako) snake (sawa). Son, we have an eclipse because the serpent spirit has swallowed the moon.

The boy was quiet, absorbing this snake that must have been as long and thick as a coconut tree.

—Nay, what can make the bakunawa spit out the moon?

—Hear the noise our neighbors are making? The babaylan is getting them to scare the bakunawa into throwing up the moon.

And as his mother foretold, the boy saw the moon back in the sky the night after. Many times during his playing, the boy would stop to gaze at the pale and thin shadow. Was it hot or cold inside the snake’s mouth?

A day came when the boy’s mother and other villagers fell sick. The boy’s friends looked everywhere for him but he did not leave his mother’s side, his hot cheek warming her cold one.

—Nay, what is making you sick?

—There’s a fire in my loins, left by the spirits from the river. But the babaylan will put it out.

—Who is this babaylan, Nay?

—The babaylan is the bakunawa’s link to our world. His magic is stronger than that of the sultans, who only count wealth, or the priests, who look after souls. The babaylan is stronger because his power extends over the finite and the infinite.

—What power is this, Nanay?

—The power to heal, anak.

The complete text can be found on the Sun Star Cebu site. Link accessed 7/20/2009

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