Ampapayyot, Or the Bird of Our Childhood Days

I keep recalling its name, this bird of beauty and grace. And yet I kept on forgetting that name too. I had to call good informants, the couple Filipinas and Rizal Aguilar of Waipahu to check myself if I got things right. A friend from New Zealand would like to know what this bird whose picture he shot in Alcala, Cagayan is called in Ilokano.

The query first went to two more senior faculty members in the Ilokano program of the University, and made helpless and impotent by their Americanization, the query eventually landed on my lap. No, on my e-mail. Ethics would dictate that I have to respond, but respond I would and should with certainty. I had my hunches, of course, that run the gamut from sibeg to kiaw to pagaw to pirruka to lalawigan to alimuken. But here is it: the ampapayyot.

Ampapayyot, I say, repeating the name over and over again. Ampapayyot, and the word got on a new meaning, a new sense, a new memory, a new life.

There is a whole lot of magic in that word and I am transported back to the days of want and dreaming-on when the start of the rainy months spelled food from the resurrected land: abal-abal from the trees and soft 'lusod' soil; aros-aros from the paratong of our courage, when we were not fazed by stories of snakes and ghosts but went to climb those trees in the hills and felled all those bees that went to the frying fan and then chewed with much childhood gusto for their milky, almost buttery taste; and those simot-simot that we tricked by putting a lamp in the middle of huge laundry basic filled with water to guarantee that once their wings got burned they would land on the water, never to fly again, and thus giving us the ethical reason to make them good fare.

But the summer days were fun as well: those were the days of 'silo'--the pagaw was game for the entrapment. Or the tukling.
Or the billit-tuleng. The branches of guavas were prey for the 'tirador'. Summer was 'palsiit' season as well as war with the children at the other side of the river.

So this ampapayyot is a trigger to that memory I have almost forgotten.

I thanked the New Zealand-based friend for that rendesvouz with the past.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa
Sept 20/07

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