I had crab mentality, and I loved it.
Reading for errors my 250-page laid out manuscript for my book Princess Charice, I’m right now on page 179, opening page of Chapter 13, The Crabsters - the name I coined to refer to those who would like to destroy Charice, her fans being called by her Chasters - and so I’m once again in Asingan, Pangasinan, out there in the ricefields half a kilometer from the back of houses searching for crabs. In such a case, I’m a Crabster. I am between high school and college; my family cannot afford 2 boys in school, so I have to stop and wait.
Right now, I’m waiting to fill up my alat - small woven bamboo basket for carrying caught fish, frog, crab or such - with dakumo, freshwater field crab, the most tasty kind. Easy to catch: You insert your whole hand into a watery hole and if a crab inhabits the hole, you get stabbed or bitten by a claw or two, and you know you have struck gold, and you know exactly what to do next. Nagimas met, apo. Field crabs are delicious whether cooked red or eaten raw.
There is of course a danger that a snake instead of a crab inhabits your hole of choice. Easy to check - if the hole is full of water, no snake. The snakes in the field do like holes but don’t like water - I loved the crabs and I loved seeing those holes; if I’m wrong in this, you couldn’t be reading this, could you?
Today, November 2010, the field crabs are gone. Who drove them away? We did. Over the years, decades, we fertilized the fields too much; we sprayed the weeds too much; we sprayed the crops too much. We overdid everything, and so we are now getting feedback in the form of degradation of the environment. We are the destroyers of the Earth.
And who do you think taught the farmers of Sanchez in Asingan to apply scientific agriculture, and then to abuse it? The two brothers Hilario: Emilio first, Francisco second. My brother finished in Araneta; I finished in Los Baños - 2 different scholarships (views on learning), 2 different schools, same crime against the soil, the crops, the vegetation, Mother Nature. For instance, I would spray 2,4-D, a deadly weed killer, on any broadleaf weed and wet whole plants thoroughly and watch the leaves wilt and know that they are dying - I smiled, I delighted in watching a living creature slowly die with my own hands. Power was literally concentrated in my hands, in the nozzle of the sprayer I pointed at the helpless, defenseless weed.
We were not rich, but we were not poor either. Because my father Lakay Disiong could afford to, we bought chemicals to spray against the weeds, against the insects in anticipation of any infestation. What were we doing? We were not actually buying chemicals - we were buying convenience. We would not be bothered pulling the weeds with our bare hands - we would rather destroy them right where they lived. Even as a student in Los Baños, I anticipated such adventures. Modern agriculture was wonderful, wasn’t it? And I was learning more and more of it. I was good in theory; I was also good in practice.
***My original photo, which I have titled “Shadows” just now, is a shot taken somewhere in Bantug, April 2009; I used Photoshop to create the effect you see, as I prefer impressions over details. The image of the carabao that has appeared because of my application of Photoshop was unintended, but I like it too. The original image is that of a small tree at the left and a clump of bamboo to the right growing side-by-side. It’s still an Asingan story.