ONE OF THE perks of doing field research, sometimes called ethnography by those preferring some more academic term, is to live among the people, the holders of knowledge. 

These holders are the owners of knowledge as well, when we extend that knowledge as the knowledge of the whole community. 

One field research I went to where I led a group in a bigger comparative ethnology project is Davila somewhere in the Ilocos.

Davila was (and I hope it still is) beauty materialized, with its only highway dividing the two classes of people of the community: those east of the highway were farmers while those on the west were fisherfolk.

It was the classic case of the Ilocos, with its directional cosmogony that talks of the east as Daya (root word: raya, for the ray of the sun), and west as Laud (root word: laot, laut: for the sea).

So: when we think of the east in the Ilokano language, we think of the ray of the sun, and we think of 'daya,' and we can never go wrong; when we think of the west, we think of the sea, and that is the 'laud' for you and it never changes.

I heard stories about the enchanting and the out-of-this world, with parts of the Davila forest the abode of out-of-this world entities that caused people to become sick when one, intentionally or otherwise, destroys the homeostasis of the place.

But there was one thing that entranced me all throughout the weeks of field research: the Franciscan place of solitude up on a still cliff that looks out into the West Philippine Sea that leads you to the Batanes group of islands.

That was reserved for those Franciscan monks whose spiritual life have evolved and who, like Francis who had to give away a lot in order to search for his God, could now afford to live alone by living in nature, with just the bounty of nature to live on.

I went there and I realized I could not live on my own.

I went there and I realized that are some people who are spiritually blessed can forsake the world for something greater, grander, nobler.

Ah, to each his own.

19 Jan 2014

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