John Klein stood in the doorway of the mission watching the incessant tropical rain fill the air. The roadway in front was a blurred mystery until a jagged bolt of lightning fleetingly assured that it was still there. He counted out in thousands listening for the inevitable clap of thunder. He didn’t get to three thousand before the explosive clap shook the building. Looking behind him to the main room, he saw Barney, the brown Filipino dog, dive under a cane chair. The creature looked scared and embarrassed at the same time.18 “John, you had better come out from that doorway,” cautioned his wife, Keren. “I do not understand why it is that you must stand there watching this storm.”
“I’ll come in soon, honey,” John replied. But his mind drifted off to a different storm that he experienced years before at Georgian Bay when he was a young person. He clearly remembered his dog, Rand, whom he still occasionally dreamt about as if still alive.
The memory of that day
The summer afternoon’s light and warmth accompanied John and his pup, Rand, as they canoed from Bone Island and now through the twists and turns of the Freddy Channel. John greatly enjoyed such excursions whereby his canoe would slip silently by ancient rock islands where stunted white pines clung to thin patches of soil in the rock’s crevices. Some leaned out over the water with their roots exposed and appearing ready to let go of their precarious grip to the rock. The only sound was that of the paddle dipping into the water. John watched the swirling symmetry made in the water from his J-stroke. Occasionally, this symmetry might be broken by the accidental clipping of the paddle against the side of the canoe. Otherwise, everything was still. No breeze vibrated the leafy shore birches or swayed the tops of the taller pines blessed to be rooted to deeper inland soil. John considered it to be good luck that there happened to be no boat traffic and therefore no waves churning up the water’s smooth surface while travelling up the Freddy’s narrow channel.
destination was to a little island store, which served more as an end
point to the canoeing rather than being a place to buy anything
specific. John saw that his German shepherd dog was getting restless.
Until then, the pup was content to snooze with his head tucked under
the front seat where he found some shade from the sun. Now he began
to wander about and when he leaned over the side of the canoe to try
to get a drink, John called out to him.
no, don’t do that. You are going to fall overboard.”
pup moved back from the side and, panting lightly, stared expectantly
know, you are feeling both hot and bored. We’ll be there soon and
I’ll find something you like to eat.”
put his paddle down and reached for a small plastic bowl beneath his
seat. Scooping it over the side of the canoe, he filled it and then
held it while the pup thirstily lapped up the cool water.
that should hold you for awhile.”
A runabout boat powered by an outboard motor cruised slowly by causing a wake that was little more than a ripple. An older man wearing a Tilley hat steered and his grey-haired wife motioned her greeting. John responded by holding his paddle up in the air. He waited until the canoe quit its gentle rocking from the boat’s wake before digging his paddle in and doing a J-stroke and continuing.
Around a bend, the Freddy opened revealing the island store tucked into a more accessible area of the shield rock. John dug his paddle in deeply and soon covered the distance. He chose a space at one of the docks to tie up. There were several boats already docked; their occupants inside the store. John decided to leave the pup the short time it would take to purchase a few things for the trip back. Attaching a rope to the dog’s collar, he then secured the other end around the canoe’s centre strut.
“You stay there, Rand, I’ll be right back,” John promised. The pup sat down and whined. “Don’t cry pup. I’ll get you something.” John left and entered the store.
On a shelf displaying breads, he found some sweet bun that could be shared with his dog.
Returning to the docks again with a bag containing his purchases, John saw a middle-aged man dressed in white slacks and wearing deck shoes standing there hovering above the canoe. He was eying Rand intently. The same could be said for the pup who did not take his eyes off the man. John guessed at what the boater’s suspicion was. The dog was a long-haired German Shepherd, however, even as a pup it looked wolfish. John excused himself as he untied the canoe near to where the man stood without correcting his unspoken belief that the creature in the boat was a wolf. After untying, John eased himself into the canoe, released Rand and paddled a distance from the dock. Resting the paddle across the canoe’s sides, he took a sticky bun from the bag and tore a large piece off for his dog. A few chomps, and it was gone. He wanted more, so John gave him the rest. Taking the paddle again, he did not look back, but continued along the way they had come. He wondered if the curious man still watched. TO BE CONTINUED
News alert! HFCC President & CEO Bonner Villabroza announces that it is with deep regret that we close HFCC Resource Centre ( aka Kapihan Wednesday) till further notice. Even though we are in compliance with the Health Dept. guideline/directive on limiting gatherings of certain number of people there is still a possibility of transmission to occur. Therefore. it is prudent out of an abundance of caution to suspend the activity every Wednesday.
Do you really know your Philippine History? If you do maybe not quite this way.
LRT is dead or is it? We learned from the media/radio station talk shows that it is possible LRT may restart again. So what does it mean for HFCC? Even if LRT lives it would take a couple of years to get going again if ever. So HFCC is pondering about an ambitious project. Why not build a retirement home/living onsite? Is it even possible?
It starts with a dream, an idea.
Art Linkletter, a Canadian born American radio and television personality and a fellow named Walt Disney had this conversation in the early 1950’s. The following is an excerpt taken from the internet link mentioned below. “‘Well,’ Walt said, ‘this is it.’ He looked around and he could see it all in his imagination: the Disneyland Railroad, Main Street, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland. I looked around and saw nothing but a cow pasture. I thought, My poor deluded friend! He’s going to put a bunch of merry-go-rounds and roller-coasters out here, forty-five minutes from L.A. He’ll go broke! But out of respect for our friendship, I didn’t say what I was thinking.
“‘Art,’ he said, ‘there’s a fortune to be made here. If you buy up all the property around Disneyland, in a year or two it’ll be worth twenty times what you paid for it.’ Click on the link for the full story: https://waltsdisneyland.wordpress.com/2017/07/02/art-linkletters-disneyland-regret/
The Hamilton Community Filipino Centre
The dream of establishing a Community Centre goes as far back to the year 1975 when the first Constituted Organization in Hamilton, the Pilipino Canadian Association (PCA), etched in their Constitution and By-law, “to save enough money to start a community centre”.
This dream remained dormant for many years due to lack of resources, finance and know how. In 1989 – 1990, the past president of PCA was appointed to head the 1st Community Centre Committee. A conceptual drawing of a building and a projected cost of 2-3 million dollars was presented to the community. The rest was HFCC history. Full story here: https://www.hfcc8.ca/history-of-hfcc/
Click on image to enlarge
The Dream of Building a Retirement Living/Community Centre
Picture this. A 6 storey retirement living building managed by people who have experience in health care ( Retired Registered Nurses and Doctors). Add to that their expertise in Filipino culture and mores. Additionally throw in the world famous Filipino Hospitality and friendliness. And you have a winner. There would be lots of questions to ask/answer. Leave your comments in our Facebook page or visit the Centre. We are there from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday except for the summer months till September. Let’s have a discussion.
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Stay home as much as possible and limit your contact with others. This will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 so our healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed.
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The author with his two kids sleeping inside the ” Kulambo” or mosquito net. This is the third and last part of episode 1.
“Why did your mother point to the outside corner?” John asked. “I did not hear a thing.”
“We did hear the chicken though. It was a sign that something was making it restless.”
“Your dad is still holding a gun,” John said.
“That’s just a precaution. Likely the person was just looking around to steal a chicken or something. Still, to confront him directly in the dark would be dangerous. They carry machetes you know. They don’t want to be caught.”
“You know Karen, the thought that someone might be sneaking around in that pitch black with a machete is really creepy.”
Their conversation ended when Alfonso announced that he was going home to his bamboo house next to his parents’ place. For better lighting, Karding handed him a larger kerosene lamp made from an empty Tanduay rum ‘lipid’ bottle. They said goodnight and Alfonso left. Karding locked the bamboo framed door with a large linked rusting chain as well as a wooden beam set in place across the door and inserted into heavy steel brackets attached to wood uprights.
“Is it safe for your brother to go out into that darkness –alone?” John worried.
“It is OK now. Besides, my brother lives nearby.”
John and Keren however, were suddenly interrupted again
when Keren’s mother called out: “Madulúm na ang kagab-íhon, matulog na ‘ta!”
“John, we better get going; mother is waiting and has made a place for us to sleep.” **End**
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Alfonso took a sip of tubâ and paused as if reflecting upon this unfortunate and seemingly insurmountable problem of corruption in the Philippines. John shook his head to show his equivalent concern about the seriousness of the situation. Alfonso responded by pouring more RED HORSE into John’s jar. Taking up a lamp, Rosing got up again and found a real glass, which she brought back to the table indicating that she would have some beer too. Keren did not drink anything that night mainly because she did not like the taste of warm beer. She said quietly to John: “I am getting tired. Right now, I just want to sleep.” John replied that he was now feeling the same tiredness. Keren then said with some censure: “It is not the same. All the drinks you have had, especially my father’s ‘tubâ‘. I should have told you how strong it can be as it ferments.”
Outside, Karding’s dog started to bark. Then, it was quiet again. John did not think anything of that. However, he saw that the others had become more alert. He saw that they continued to listen intently.
“What’s going on?” John asked.
“Probably nothing much,” Keren responded. “The dog became aware of something seeming to him out of place, so he barked his warning.”
“He suddenly stopped barking. It must have been a false alarm,” John joked.
“Not necessarily. Maybe he knew some person who might be sneaking around outside.”
With that John grew quiet and listened along with the others. Then, Karding picked up one of the kerosene lamps on the table and went to the back of the nipa hut. John heard him moving things about. Returning with a cotton bag, he set the lamp down again on the table and dimmed it. John watched him withdraw a revolver from the bag. Even with the limited light cast by the lamps, John could see some rust on it. The gun was an old affair.
In observing John’s interest, Alfonso said: “It is a twenty-five magnum.”
They still listened. John could only hear a subdued clucking of chickens in a securely fenced area under the nipa hut. Then suddenly Rosing exclaimed: “Dirâ dámpi!” She heard something outside beyond. She pointed to the corner where the raised cooking fire place was situated.
In Ilonggo (Hiligaynon), Karding spoke in a purposely strong voice for everyone to hear: “I’ve got the gun!” He abruptly tilted open the window panel and fired into the night’s blackness. The sound was explosive in the confined space of the hut. Sparks that shot out from the gun’s muzzle were quickly absorbed in the outer dark. Karding immediately shut the window cover again. The smell of burnt gun-powder permeated the air.
The fired gun provoked the barking of the dog for a time and then all was quiet again. Alfonso and his father returned to the table and sat down as if nothing happened. John and Keren had remained seated through the whole episode. Rosing carrying a kerosene lamp went into the back-sleeping area. John saw that she was preparing blankets and mosquito netting getting things ready to sleep.
to be continued...
Robert Coe spent most of his younger years loving and enjoying the great wide outdoors of Georgian Bay with family and friends.
Robert also worked in a more restricted environment at Guelph Correctional Centre as an officer with recidivous inmates. Robert is also a PK (Pastor’s Kid). He later became a CBOQ (Convention Baptist of Ontario and Quebec) Ordained Missionary to serve for many years in the Philippines with his wife Norma and children. His time in the Philippines with the people and community greatly enriched his life and love for writing. However, in later years, while in Canada, Robert was diagnosed in 2013 with a rare disease called Amyloidosis. Like cancer, it has no cure. Generally, people will go for years before the disease is accurately diagnosed by medical specialists. In Robert’s case, a kidney and bone marrow biopsies finally confirmed the condition. While living in Hamilton, Robert achieved, remission (disease in hibernation) after chemo treatments and Analogous Stem Cell Transplant at Juravinski Cancer Centre. Sadly, the Amyloid disease destroyed Robert’s kidneys and he has been on Peritoneal Dialysis every single day since 2016 while awaiting prayerfully for a Kidney Donour to come for transplant. Rob’s medical condition however, gave him the opportunity to pursue when able his passion for writing, which is also inspired by his favourite authors; John Steinbach, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Dostoyevsky, James Mitchener and Pierre Burton. Robert has a degree in History at McMaster University and Master of Theological Studies at McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton.
KAGAB-ÍHON By Robert Coe E:1 P1
The night in the little village was as dark as dark can be. The village still had not electricity and no streetlight shone to give relief from the darkness. John Klein partially lifted open a framed bamboo panel that covered the window. Looking out into the night’s blackness, he saw no evidence of any visible stars. Being night, he again closed the window panel to keep the mosquitos out. A typhoon was further away to the northeast causing the sky to be heavily clouded for days. He and Keren had arrived at the bário earlier that afternoon from Roxas City. The mission house had not yet been built, so they were staying with Keren’s parents. Her mother and father were tenants on a farm property on the other side of the river that wound its way through the village. To get to it, John and Keren had to cross a three-bamboo bridge. This was to be John’s first overnight visit to Keren’s family in the Visayas region of the Philippines.
That night, placed on a roughly cut planked table, were two kerosene lamps made from a condensed milk can and the other from a recycled medicine bottle. A short distance away on a raised fireplace’s ledge was a single tin can lamp whose wick’s flame cast a fluttering shadow against the nipa hut’s back wall. John not yet use to the intense darkness of village nights felt closed in. He felt that guttural need to take refuge from the impenetrable blackness of the outside night that seemed intent to invade and overcome the dim light of the flickering lamps. John took his place with the others huddled around the table trying to remain in as much light from the lamps as they could –his wife Keren sat beside him, her mother and father and brother Alfonso across from them. There were a couple crudely made chairs and a bench; the chairs being what John and Keren sat upon. John felt his wobble on the hard-packed earthen floor whenever he shifted his weight.
Alfonso’s English was quite good, and he was delighted to be able to use it with his newly met Canadian brother-in-law. Alfonso had that Spanish appearance common to many Filipinos and John could detect what sounded to his ear a Spanish accent whenever he spoke. Alfonso was thin yet wiry from a life of hard work. His black wavy hair was beginning to show some grey. John was glad too to have this conversation in English with him. While John and Alfonso talked, Keren and her parents became occupied speaking in their Ilonggo dialect. Alfonso would from time to time refill his as well as John and his father’s glass jars with the family-size RED HORSE beer. All along, he would tell how he rarely drank but that this was a special occasion being together. John wondered, but no matter, he took him at this word.
Keren’s dad, Karding, thin like his son, got up from the table and went over to an area of the nipa hut that served as a kitchen. He appeared just a shadow away from the lamps’ light, but John heard the sharp clink of glass. Karding returned into the dim glow of the table’s lamps and set a liquor bottle on the table. John saw the tattoos that had become faint from age on his outreached arm. Earlier in the daylight, he had seen many of these prison tattoos all over his body. John had been told that he had killed a man many years before.
“You drink the juice of the coconut tree?” he said in English.
John lifted the bottle and it read Tanduay on the label and that it was 80% proof rum. However, Alfonso intervened: “It no longer has rum in it. He puts tubâ (coconut palm wine) into his empty bottles.”
“Papang makes it,” Keren explained. “He climbs the coconut tree still at his age. He wants you to drink some.”
Keren’s mother, Rosing, got up from the table. She wore a drab and worn dress. The kindness that showed so clearly on her face is what John had noticed when first meeting her at the threshold of the nípà hut. Keren told her in Ilonggo that she need not bother to get another jar since John could use the now empty one his RED HORSE was in. Rosing sat down again while John poured a little of the tuba into his jar. He drank it. Its taste was not familiar nor to his liking. However, with Keren’s father anxiously watching for his reaction, John politely lied, saying that it was good, but declined when Karding lifted the bottle offering to pour more into his jar. Undeterred, Karding and Alfonso again filled their own with tubâ.
Alfonso was becoming freer in conversation, asking questions about Canada. John was impressed that he already displayed considerable knowledge. It became obvious that Alfonso was a reader and educated himself through books somehow obtained. He clearly knew more about Canada than the average American did. Being a rice farmer, he was interested in the weather and the kind of crops grown in John’s country. He was a little surprised to learn that rice was not a crop cultivated anywhere in such a vast land, but when John described just how long and severe the winters could be, he understood.
In conversation, Alfonso got around to the reasons commonly and fatalistically put forth by Filipinos for poverty in the Philippines. “Your country Canada is a very rich country. I have read that there are many natural resources. And the people do well because you have a democratic parliamentary government that actually cares for them.”
“I suppose, basically that is true,” John concurred with some hesitation. “Sometimes, I wonder if our politicians really care so much for us. Generally, it is mostly their interests and those of the party they represent that matters most to them.”