26 April 2008


I was hanging out on a farmer's porch in the fringes of Calapan, Mindoro. There was good and raucous conversation. Two ladies arrived and likewise hung out. The older was carrying a severed branch of a large tree that makes people itchy, apparently.

Combover Farmer (who would only talk to me with his back against me when I arrived, as he just woke up, and his bald spot was all exposed) got up and started rummaging around the lot. He came back with a small pile of ash in the middle of a large, flat leaf. He dipped his thumb in the ash and drew crosses all over one of the ladies. I later learned that her child was sick and needed some good vibrations from the village elder.

All over the planet-- whether it's through a sandalwood dot between the eyebrows, or an ash cross on the forehead-- this powerful acknowledgment and transfer of energy is part of what makes us human. Simple symbols (whose meanings or use have not been diluted) make us and tell us who we are.

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