MATALAM, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 21 December) – Every Monday is market day in our hometown. On these days vendors, young and old, come to display their trade wares like “ukay-ukay” (used clothings, shoes, blankets, etc.), agricultural products, and fruits.
When I go to market, one of my priorities is eating at the small carenderia to partake of my favorite Maguindanawon delicacies like “pastil” (cooked rice wrapped in banana leaves with ground chicken meat toppings cooked the unique Maguindanawon way we call “kinagikit”).
There are now a lot of enterprising non-Maguindanawons who would imitate the “pastil” except that their chicken meat toppings are either fried or cooked the “adobo” way. And quite interestingly, they still sell. This could be due to the fact that the “pastil” is the cheapest ready-made food in town.
After having my “pastil” breakfast, which is never complete without the native “pamogon” coffee and a few slices of mango, I move around to look for my other favorite native delicacy called “tapay” (fermented rice or burong kanin in Tagalog).
While moving around in slow calculated steps, I chanced upon an old woman who had used a small portion of the sidewalk to display her native mangoes which we call “mangga juani.” “Wow,” I sighed in delight, because this is one of my favorite mango varieties. This kind of mango is very much like the durian. It smells like “hell” but tastes like “heaven.” Yes, it has a relatively stronger smell but it tastes so delicious to me.
The “mangga juani” were displayed in piles. One pile which consists of three to four pieces of mangoes, depending on the size, costs only P20. This was so cheap compared to the price of mangga Cebu and similar varieties which cost from P80 to P100 per kilo depending on the season.
Quite surprising to me, the old woman offered me a bargain of only P50 for three piles of mangoes. I did not ask for it. It has never been my habit to ask for bargain from lowly vendors whose small income from the sales would all go to rice brought home to the family.
I asked the old woman vendor: “Babo, if there is extra money left after buying rice for the family consumption, what else do you buy?” “I buy candies for the grandchildren and ensaymada for the adults, my eldest son and his wife with whom I stay,” she responded. “Babo, I am giving you P100 but I only need these mangoes,” but she insisted that I add three more piles of mangoes. “No,” I said. I am giving you the extra P50.
That was when she said, almost teary-eyed, “Datu, you are much better than my earlier buyer who was quite rude to me.” The previous buyer, who looks a bit well-to-do, according to the old woman vendor, had asked her to select three best piles of Mangoes, wrap them, and he will return to pick them up.
The man had returned to take the mangoes he bought, but to the old woman vendor’s surprise, the same man returned after slightly more than 30 minutes complaining that the old woman did not give him the best piles of mangoes. He was eating in a nearby carenderia and had the mangoes peeled off and sliced for fruit dessert.
I was still there when the man came back. After saying some harsh words and vindictives against the old woman, I tried to butt in to pacify him. I said, “Brod, you can have more piles of mangoes of your choice and return what was left of your previous buy, then you pay only for the balance.” “No,” he said, “I want my money back because this old woman is a cheat. She must have given me not-so-ripe mangoes from that bag which she has not displayed.”
This time I tried to comfort the man by telling him to get another three piles of mangoes and I will pay for it. But rather than do that, he tried to turn his ire on me by saying: “Do not insult me brod. Probably, I have more money than you.” Upon hearing this, my adrenalin shot up and I now want to get mad at the man. I said, “Brod, this is not a case of competing who has more money. It is a matter of showing respect for an old woman and her kind of business.”
“Why do you want to interfere? You have nothing to do with this. It’s none of your business,” the man, who is a little huskier than me, confronts me as if he is ready to slug it out with me.
At this point, I moved a little farther from him, faced him, and showed him that I was adjusting my gun tucked into my waist giving him the message that I would pull it if he continues to display rude manners against us (me and the old woman).
The old woman had sensed my move and she quickly interrupted by saying to me: “Datu, please go and leave us. I won’t get any poorer by three piles of mangoes. I will return his money so that he has no more issue with me.”
I heeded the old woman to show that even as I was in the upper hand should our confrontation turn into a duel, I am far more manageable and courteous.
Oh God, I pray that there are not so many creatures like him.
I have been a professional shooter since 1992 or 30 years already in this sport, to be exact. Before the authorities would take on me, let me emphasize that my gun is covered with LTOPF, Firearm Registration, and PTCFOR.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Maugan P. Mosaid holds a doctorate degree in rural development. He is a planning consultant and teaches Statistics and Methods of Research in the graduate school. He can be contacted at email@example.com.)