No one knows who she is. Or where she has come from.
Or why everyday, she comes to this same spot, in the middle of the road right in front of the Sagada Lemon Pie House, sweeping the already pristine concrete with the leaves of a freshly snapped-off tree branch.
No one knows all these things except for the old woman herself. Those who know of her have long passed away, buried along with the heritage of a place, and of beings that have first treaded its soil.
The legend begins with rain, washing down to earth the Sky Gods’ two children named Wigan and Bugan. The siblings were Ifugao’s first dwellers, who populated the province with their offspring. Oh, such familial relations were common in those days. Incest was a thing of the future.
Wigan was the people’s God of harvest. With his faithful wife Bugan, he fattened the Sky Mountains’ soil, ensuring that their earthen steps teemed with crops. His was the name most uttered by farmers, who strove to please Wigan with sacrifice, chants and prayers.
But as the years passed, people started to forget—the ancients, their origins, and even their own identity. Wigan and his fellow gods weakened, for their powers relied on the people’s belief. One by one, away they faded.
Only Bugan now remained. As to why she survived, she could only hazard this guess: she was meant to look after her husband Wigan— whose remains lay beneath the thick concrete in the middle of the road.
Everyday while she sweeps and weeps over her husband’s grave, she offers a silent prayer to the Sky Gods to allow her to join her husband, to take her away from this strange place, inhabited by strange people who believe in even stranger gods.
Onlookers dismiss her as a crazy, old woman.
Still, Bugan is convinced that they are the crazy ones, deigning to conceal the rich soil, covering life itself with cold, hard cement—an offering to yet another one of their modern gods that choke the air and pollute the silence while walking, not on feet, but on wheels.
Story by AGAY LLANERA – REYES and Sagada Images by JK (Jazel Kristin)
Writer’s Link: http://agayandspanky.blogspot.com/
I’ve been wanting to collaborate with kindred spirits here on The Art of Everyday and so finally the series of ARTISTIC COLLABORATIONs happened. The Gods Must Be Crazy is a story especially written for this by Agay Llanera-Reyes, a freelance writer for print and video and also a children’s book writer (The Gathering, SOL, Song of the Ifugao & Girl meets Girl included in Bagets, an anthology for young adults).
Agay and I have travelled around the Philippines and abroad together. She has actually celebrated some of my orbital journeys with me from Batanes to China and then Paris and most recently to Sagada. We saw this old woman, a very interesting character, during our walk. I tried to photograph her without noticing me and Agay wondered aloud what could be her story. Hence the birth of this collaboration…
Agayskee, it’s always great to hang out with you and also aruruteynkyu for always sharing your gift. I always say I write with images but you have this gift with words 🙂