RURAL VIEWS: The pigs, the bats and Naco

Atty. Leo was so good a speaker that he connected well with the guests, although he was talking about something which sounded alien to most. 

He talked about “Biros,” an exciting game, usually among boys.

Maybe it is still popular in far-flung barrios. "Biros" is a group game between two competing teams. The rules are simple and akin to that of "Hide and Seek." The first team will stay near a base: usually a tree, a rock or even a post of a nipa hut. The players of the first team will turn their backs as the opponents will run fast away from the base and hide. Minutes later, the leader of the first team will shout, "Biros!" THe leader of the other team will respond with "Biros!" as soon as his members are ready. ANd then the "hide-and-seek" starts.


But it is not as glamorous as the “hide-and-seek” you are imagining – the children hiding behind the sofa or beside the television set, or at the closet in the bedroom. You may also think of the classic textbook material – hiding in a rolled “banig” (mat). 

In “Biros,” there is neither distance nor time limit. You can run as far as you can and hide wherever you want – on top of the mansanitas (Is it really the Filipino version of an apple?) or coffee tree. You can choose the acacia tree if you want. You can hide in canals, behind the bushes or bamboos, inside the culverts under the bridge, beside the rocks in the river, or beneath the grasses. You can be as creative and imaginative as you could. 

There is thrill, and sometimes even danger of being bitten by dogs, snakes or other animals. Itches, rashes, and bruises are common and are parts of the game. And here’s the catch: If you’re very good at hiding – you might end up the “last man hiding” with no one left looking for you as everyone has gone home to eat his dinner or go to sleep! Or it could be the other way around. You could be very persistent and patient in looking for opponents who are no longer in the field and have gone home! 

Who would win? Frankly I don’t know. The rule on winning is a little vague. But there would be big laughs the day after for the one who spent his life hiding with no one looking for him, or looking for no one as the rest were already salivating in bed! 

I was very amused at Atty. Leo’s recollection. It was nice to hear that a successful professional and businessman belonging to a prominent family played the same game which I enjoyed during my childhood in the boondocks. Ergo, I can also be rich and famous. Dreaming is free of charge, my friends. 

In this age of advanced information technology, I doubt if city boys and girls play “Biros.” In the comforts of their homes or in net cafes at the malls, today’s kids play games which try, in vain, to simulate reality. No itches. No sweat. No bruises. 

Today’s kids are deprived of many rural amenities: fresh air, fresh water without any medicinal after-taste, including real games where a child physically plays and interacts with others. In the net café, a child won’t bother to know the kid sitting next to him playing another game. There are so-called network games, but still, nothing more than a network of “non-real games” confined to small and glaring monitors.

These children do not know how much fun they have been missing in the real world. 

Rural experiences nowadays are luxuries that today’s children should not be deprived of. This must be in the mind of my friend Roger Largo, when he insisted his son Naco to join the “tour” of the piggery of a client in the Island Garden City of Samal. 

Like his elder sister Maris, Naco is a typical kid of his generation. Influenced by Cartoon Network in the cable television, he speaks American English. Sometimes, he has the guts to correct the occasional improper diction and pronunciation of his province-raised father. 

Roger grew up in Lupon, Davao Oriental, where he enjoyed all the amenities of rural life – from “Biros” to fireflies. Yes, the rare awesome sight of fireflies is a luxury nowadays. 

Naco was hesitant, but with the prodding of his lawyer parents, he followed his sister Maris in going around the piggery. Back in the car, he was asked, “Would you like to raise pigs, ‘co?” He cried, thinking it was a bad joke. 

“I don’t wanna raise pigs. They’re so smelly!” he screamed. 

“But you like hotdogs, ‘co, don’t you?” his mom Joy asked. 

“I just wanna grow fruits,” Naco added. Earlier in the morning, he delighted eating the sweet lanzones. 

In the afternoon, Naco’s rural experience was further enriched with a visit to the bat caves. The bat caves were simply amazing. There must be hundreds of thousands if not millions of fruit bats hanging at the mouths of the caves, making that little eerie yet pleasant sounds or songs. 

Before we could say a word, Naco shouted, “I don’t wanna raise bats either. They’re even more smelly!” 

At a kiosk near the caves, Naco liked the patient explanation of his mom on the importance of bats. Bats do not exactly smell good, but they are nice creatures playing important role in the great circle of life. 

Naco and Maris are very fortunate children. They have bright futures and they need not go through the difficult challenges their parents went through.

Nevertheless, Roger wanted them to have a taste of rural living. He can’t teach his rich rural experience to his kids. They have to go through it. 

When they will be back from a vacation, I guess Naco will be telling stories about Disneyland, including the beautiful lights he saw. But I doubt if he saw any firefly in that wonderful place. 

Naco won’t raise bats or pigs. But his Samal experience has opened his eyes to the beauty of rural life. He may look forward to seeing more beautiful rural views and hopefully, may soon experience the thrill of seeing fireflies. 

As he will go to places and continue to enjoy the luxuries and comforts of urban living, rural views will always keep him grounded to reality.

This wonderful rural experience is a great advantage which his dad treasures so much. This must be the same advantage which Atty. Leo also enjoys.

Note: Next issue, let’s talk about radio, television, books and nursery rhymes in “Linnie, Tuck and Ming-ming.” 

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Danilo Balucos, the first business manager of the Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center, left to pursue Law school, passed the 2006 bar exams and is now a partner in a law firm in Davao City.)