. . . And They Dabbled in Sorcery Too!
Not one of us saw them alive. From what we’ve heard, they were the richest in Leyte, Philippines back in the day. But they died of a broken heart because the properties that they garnered through the sweat of their brow and their meticulousness–their being chipipay even–more than 100 parcels of land–had been bid off by the government. As in trust gone berserk.
And the lesson not lost on us is that trust is okay, but too much of it will kill you. Especially if the beneficiary of that trust has a dark motive, to begin with.
Guaco was his name, and he stole into our grandparents hearts by introducing himself as a blood relative. Bringing unsolicited gifts, doing errands and what not. He was into petroleum products–and he wanted to make it big. The catch was that he had to have a collateral in order for that to happen. So that was his motive in befriending the old folks. And he succeeded in securing our grandparents thumb marks for the documentation–they called it fianza or bail documents in modern parlance.
Perhaps this Guaco absconded with money, such that he could not pay up the mother company from whom he obtained his petroleum wares. So he became a persona non grata and that company took over the collateral: our grandparents properties. With government backing, the properties were bid off, with a Serafin Nicolas answering for the bulk of it.
As Momma used to tell, grandmother whisked her one time to a chat. If Momma was interested, Grandma would teach her how to do the ritual for a bountiful harvest–she would do it at midnight, circling any property, mouthing the incantations–and don’t she ever be bothered with the odd noises and the grimlins appearing to discourage her. The thought of that sent shivers up her spine, and she demurred.
And oh, as to how chipipay Grandma and Grandpa were: They would have a pig butchered to last them months by salting them in large earthen jars. Momma would tell that they would coax her to eat the cooked meat, in spite of the raw meat being infested with maggots–yuck!–and she would tell that the taste was waxy.
Grandma and Grandpa were rich–they had a Ford car (the first in Leyte)–they had the biggest house–their rice harvests from Kalansan were to the brim of the bodegas–their coconut harvests were just as fecund–they were the hosts of the First Guinarona Fiesta for San Pascual Baylon, May 16-17, 1904.
Alfonso Maray and Laureana Lobrigo Maray, our prime ancestors, whom we can only dream about.