The Real Legend of Araceli’s Name
Ever since Jose Rizal’s legend of Calamba town’s name became known to schoolchildren, most legends about the source of any Philippine place’s name followed the same trend: the origin is based on the name itself. So you have Antipolo being named after the tree tipolo, Batangas from batangan, Bicol’s Magayon for Mayon, Marinduque from the tale of star-crossed lovers Marin and Duque as examples.
The published so-called legend of Araceli, Palawan’s name, accepted —and incredibly, believed— , by many is of the same pattern. According to the ‘legend’, the name came into existence when some Muslim traders came to the place looking for pepper, which was a regular part of their cuisine. The locals indicated there was none, by saying, ‘ara sili’. The term ‘ara’ is Cuyunon for none or no, and sili is Tagalog for pepper. So ‘ara sili’ literally translates to ‘no pepper’. The strangers took it to be the name of the place and it was known to be that ever after. That is, according to the ‘legend’.
This story was plausible enough to be believed by many, which is, as I stated above, simply incredible, but it has several flaws. The first flaw was that ‘sili’ was a Tagalog term, the Cuyunon equivalent being ‘catumbal’. Therefore the correct reply should have been ‘ara catumbal’, the Tagalog language being largely unknown, much more used, at the time. Thus, to use ‘sili’ to mean pepper was out of place, if the replying individual was a Cuyunon, which was eminently reasonable, because no Tagalog settlers were present in the community in sufficient numbers (if any) to influence the Cuyunon residents to use the term. Rizal’s story has had influences way beyond what he may have thought then.
Second, at the establishment of the community, the predations of the Muslim raiders countering the Spanish colonization of the islands were still rather prevalent. The Muslims of the Sultanate of Brunei* were making all efforts to blunt the coming of the Spaniards by regularly attacking coastal communities and destroying the Spanish influence. Therefore, at the sight of approaching Muslim vintas the residents normally will run to the interior, leaving the ‘pirates’ to ransack the place. If the Muslim traders came as in the ‘legend’, there should have been nobody to welcome them, much more tell them no pepper is available.
The third flaw is that the ‘traders’ and the residents would not have understood each other, the visitors speaking Tausug/Maranao/Mappun (whatever)** and the locals speaking Cuyunon. So if they communicated by signs, signals and other non-verbal ways, the ‘ara sili’ reply would not have been made. Pepper will be very difficult to describe via hand signs, and to say ‘ara sili’ in signs will be as difficult. I wonder how they understood each other if ever they made the exchange that ‘ara sili’ were mentioned in reply.
Last, the story was so overly simple and so flawed it seems to have been concocted by an elementary school student. The actual story of how this ‘legend’ came about went like this:
recently i went back to my hometown just to reminisce as well as go fishing. it is the only place i am very familiar with in relation to fishing because i learned fishing and grew up with fishing there. i can still pinpoint a few reefs we used to fish (with my father or friends) in my short-pants-no-underwear days. some of my fishing buddies are still there, and i mention specially manong oscar, who took me in his fishing trips for half the sales of my catch. all i need to bring in those trips were my food and tackle and he takes care of the rest: boat, bait, labor. i felt like a real sportfishing prince during those times.
nong oscar was a negrense, and gabby. he can tell stories of almost anyone in his neighborhood, or tell you fishing tales galore. still sprightly at way past 60, sunburnt, and i guess lonely because nang basing (his wife) has died some years back. although he lives among his three children (two more live away), i think he needs companionship not possible with his children who have their own families. so he keeps his own motorized banca despite the prohibitive cost of gasoline, because he needs to lavish attention on someone, and failing that, on something. i am fond of the man, not only because of what he is, but also because long ago, when i was younger he took me under his wings to go fishing. and i loved those times. i hope he lives forever at that age.
then there was my classmate who discovered a few possible mining areas in the town, and tried to engage a financier for exploration and exploitation. he was dreaming of great riches and humbly saying all he needs is just a few millions to be satisfied. yet when i said mining claim rights are sold for minimum of 50 million he literally sputtered in his drinking glass and was dumbstruck, because he has verbally agreed to sell it for only 5 million. talk about wanting only a few…
as normal he asked me a lot of questions, and bragged of his capability, having finished his graduate studies thesis singlehanded. when i assured him he can do the environmental impact assessment for mines he immediately accepted it. so almost everyday i was there, he was drinking with buddies (twice i was among them) dreaming of the big times coming. yet he has no plans on how to do the necessary things to achieve his goals, but talked incessantly of what he will do once he gets them. i can only emphasize to the last word that he first establish his claim on the areas…
in the meantime, friends who were supposed to be my fishing companions conveniently forget fishing when they get started on the bottle, which was any time: morning, noon, afternoon. sometimes just after waking up in the morning at 8 or 9. i left unfulfilled in my dreams of a fishing vacation.
but the fishing –in the very few times i got to fish— was a lot better than before. the horse mackerel (galunggong) was back in force, and small tuna are being caught again. there was a load of king mackerel caught in gillnets before i arrived, and the price in our wet market dropped to P50 from P100 a kilo because there was little ice to preserve it for the main market in another town. the absence of large purse seiners and illegal fishermen as well as the vey high cost of fuel were the most probably causes of the resurgence, since community fishing was more energetic than before. stable markets for fish exist in the area and elsewhere, so fishing was a livelihood for many as it was ever since. probably one reason my friends don’t care about fishing: they can fish anytime they need to, and not according to my needs.
in that short sentimental journey home i rediscovered what i knew long ago. my people will not change in their outlook in life and living, and therefore will stay the way they are economically. only a few who manage to hurdle this stumbling block of lethargy will rise to some higher levels, and consequently become the object of envy of others ‘less fortunate’ and also less striving, than them. if i live another ten years and return, i probably will find them as they are today, only grown older.
quo vadis, my people? i wonder…
there is a rumor running around the capital of palawan that the palawan council for sustainable development (pcsd) has been put under the authority of the department of environment and natural resources (denr) on matters of environment in palawan.
i am not sure how true is this or to what extent the pcsd was (supposed to be) subsumed to denr, but if there is any truth in it, then that is the end of palawan’s control over its own environment. palawan’s future will be decided totally by powers that be in contemptuous disregard of what the palawenos themselves may want. and the so-called ‘independence’ of the province’s political leaders will be totally reduced to being ceremonial. they will be simple effigies of their positions: the governor, the vice-governor and the two congressmen. and via a simple executive order at that! if these people can take it, then they deserve their fate.
the pcsd is the biggest single reason palawan’s environment remains still a little green, because pcsd’s ecan law has established a framework by which that environment can be protected. yet, even with the law, the forests and seas of the province is disappearing at an ever-increasing rate. the law cannot even be imposed in totality, with the ecan in place! how much more if that law is disregarded by those who consider it a hindrance to what they want? it will only be a ka-law-kohan!
likewise, the ecan bars the exploitation of the areas dangerous to the people if destroyed. can you imagine if there is mining at the top of a mountain, and protracted rains induced landslides? the horrors of ormoc, infanta and negros will be the result!
tell me if i’m wrong, but can a republic act be superseded by an executive order?
the council head membership includes the governor and the congressmen. if the pcsd is subsumed to denr whatever they say or decide may be vetoed by the denr regional office. where in this nauseating philippine political scenario would you see a governor’s decision about his own province in his own province voidable by a national agency regional director? or a congressman’s desire about his own district for that matter? the governor and the congressmen will be figureheads in their own turf! hahahaha
i see a sinister force here. an unsatiable entity (or group) out to subvert the protection of palawan to feed that entity’s gargantuan greed. that entity is out to grab all palawan’s treasures and resources without regard for anyone else, least of all the palaweno. this is just a step; others will follow. if our leaders allow this, then to hell with them too.
there is at present a mining-bashing movement in palawan, where a number of mines have started to operate. formerly there was only one: rio tuba nickel. now we have narra nickel, berong nickel, pgmc/citi nickel, and earlier coral bay nickel. more than 400 applications are pending, a few are under process for approval, and one may start soon. a few more are on the exploration stage.
now, the ‘environmentalism’ spirit is so strong in palawan anything that indicates meddling with ‘nature’ is anti-environmentalism. ‘nature’ here means trees and seas and forests and mountains and reefs and corals and more. we have been raised on ‘nature is beautiful as is, in palawan’ and that palawan has much of it we can hardly see beyond the status quo of everything. so we should not cut the trees down and catch the fish and cage the animals nor mow the grass…and certainly not dig the earth for the minerals it contains.
what are the reasons for the mining-bashing? the main ones are:
1. mining is destructive of the biosystem and the biodiversity and the natural state of things, because it will strip open the earth and therefore uproot the trees, kill the insects, drive away the wildlife there, and open the forests to intrusions of people.
2. mining can destroy the whole fabric of life of the indigenous peoples upstairs there by exposing them to the ways and habits of strangers, killing their culture and way of life.
now all these are okay in principle. nobody will contest that. the problem is that it is double standard, filtered, prejudiced, biased, bigoted and what not. it looks only at mining to bash and not other similar actions that produce the same results.
for example, why don’t they bash road-building? it destroys the ecosystem wherever it passes through because roads cut down trees; deprive animals, insects and others of their habitat; do not allow plants to grow back; strip open the mountainside; makes possible the intrusion of people into the area, and disturbs all the anitos and engkantos and kapres there. and when the cement and the tar in the asphalt lose their serviceable life, don’t they leach their chemicals into the earth, and alter the earth’s composition? but why is there no roadmaking-bashing?
also, why isn’t farm-making bashed? ricefields cut down trees; deprive animals and insects and.. ahhh, you know the drill. so why is there no ricefarm-bashing at any time?
then, why are house-building, or even subdivisions, business malls and similar things not bashed? they produce the same effects on nature and man, cutting down trees and plants, depriving animals and insects…et cetera, et cetera ad nauseam. why don’t they bash also their own homes and the supermarkets and the buildings they love to have?
WHY BASH ONLY MINING?
is it because mining grants the indigenous people a measure of financial capability, and also alter the life of the ‘underprivileged’ people in the lowland communities by giving them steady jobs, businesses and employment? and if those things happen they will cease to look up to the non-government organizations who espouse their ’cause’ because these ‘marginal’ people will then learn to fight for themselves and their welfare?
is it because mining ‘benefits only a few people’, conveniently forgetting that there are hundreds of workers and employees there who earn a living, and also support businesses and services that cater to the needs of these employees and workers, such as storeowners, farmers, fishermen, dressmakers, beerhouse girls and the likes of them? and that the bashers are not included in either group, and therefore feel left out, and take their frustration against mining itself, because they cannot do it against any individual, or they will be labelled deviants?
is it because mining is simply the newest subject to focus on by those knee-jerk environmentalists and the ‘spirit’ ? these ‘environmentalists’ went against the island-resorts built in north palawan sometime ago, saying these resorts will destroy the biodiversity and the reefs and the seas of the islands. but now shamefacedly agree they were wrong, because these resorts were the first to conserve and protect their own environments, which the so-called environmentalists did nothing about.
is it because mining pays, and pays big?
your guess is as good as mine.
this is my first blog. so hello world and welcome to tbdtbd925‘s eclectic thoughts and writings. excuse the all-lower case writing, i hate to constantly press the shift button to capitalize letters. since there are no automatic first-word capitalization here, let us leave it at that. anyroad, i will write my thoughts as i saw fit, and not to your style, so please bear with me if you wish. otherwise: otherwise.
the contents for this blog will be eclectic, but will mostly center on three things: palawan, fishing, writing, but not regularly in that order. you see, i wish to record my thoughts for posterity, and perhaps, when i am great enough, or my family would think so, other people may know my thoughts and opinions and think the same way, too. who knows? blogging is simply expressing opinions and thoughts, ain’t it?
okay, so for a start, i will open a new blog entry in another subject, oil exploration in palawan, my province.
- citibank credit card woes
- requiem for a beloved mother and president
- for my father, on FATHER’S DAY
- The Real Story Behind Araceli’s Name
- I Should Have Taken my Father Fishing
- My First Fish
- My Earliest Attempts at Fishing
- thoughts via a fishing vacation
- PCSD under DENR? Oh no!
- mining-bashing in palawan
- exxon in sulu sea
- Hello world!