Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June 1 Hailstorm in Isinay Country

IN THE EVENING of June 2, I received a text message from Dupax that went this way:  

"Kmsta nan uran si cristal ohavan ya ajon an lahay itong ya nan DEYYU means crystal". (How are you it rained crystals yesterday and old man Itong said DEYYU means crystal).

The text came from Boni Calacala, my Isinay-word-hunting buddy in Dupax who often accompanies me in my day-long excursions in my farm in Sinagat and other still sparsely populated upstream parts of town.

I had an inkling that the Itong that Boni mentioned was Uwa Itong Campo. Now in his seventies, the guy once served a prison term in his twenties (perhaps the first Isinay to be in Muntinlupa) allegedly for shooting a hunting companion whom he mistook for a laman (deer).

Just to make sure, I texted Boni back with this: "Siran diyen itong? Salamat. Besan u lohom dingnge nen NANDEYU. Situ ya nandiyumarim lohom." (Who is that Itong? Thanks. It's only now that I hear such NANDEYU. Up here we had showers only.)

Indeed, it was my first time to hear that deyyu is the Isinay term for the ice crystals that fall once in a blue moon especially when it hadn't rained for a long time.

I have to check again next time I go to Dupax. But all along I thought the Isinay for hail was uraru, a word that my pure-Ilocano mother (who learned Isinay by osmosis) would utter each time our sim  (galvanized-iron) roof would go "takatak-takitik" with the distinct sound of solid particles falling.

When I mentioned the hailstorm news to my daughter Leia, she said that her cousin Ayla did indeed post a photo of hail in Facebook.

The way the crystals looked in the photo, they were bigger than the ones that I used to see as a kid. Back then, households had no refrigerators yet as there was yet no electricity in Dupax. Thus, the occurrence of hailstorms was big news as the ice bits they brought were the only cold things we Isinay kids got to touch outside the shaved ice of the halo-halo during fiestas or the "scramble" of Ama Kusep Dumaing.

Back then also, there was a belief among both Isinay and Ilocano folks in my town that the ice crystals turned into arrabas (worms that devoured farm crops, particularly riceplants and leafy vegetables). It was a belief that probably originated from the observation that such pest worms came out after a hailstorm.

Well, I can't help but laugh at that bit of folkloric almanac now. But it was indeed a belief that prevailed alongside another funny item that I also used to hear when I was little: adult tilapias turned into rats!

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