Summer excursions B.C.


    ‘Bottles of lemonade were opened, green cocoanuts were cut in two so that those who were coming out of the bath might have the refreshing milk to drink and the delicate meat to eat.’

    BEFORE COVID-19, people hiked, toured, attended summer festivals, indulged in sand (beaches), and enjoyed the natural world (not eat bats and pangolins). Fiestas, siestas, picnics: “A multitude of servants were bustling about the improvised fireplaces, some engaged in plucking chickens, others in washing rice and roasting pig.” [Chapter XII: In The Woods]

    “Bottles of lemonade were opened, green cocoanuts were cut in two so that those who were coming out of the bath might have the refreshing milk to drink and the delicate meat to eat. The young women in addition received rosaries of sampagas interwoven with roses and ilang-ilang, which gave a beautiful fragrance to their loose hair. Some were sitting or lying in hammocks which had been hung from the branches of the trees; others were entertaining themselves in a game that was going on around a large, flat stone. Playing cards, checkers, dice and many other games were in progress.” [Frank Ernest Gannett. Friars and Filipinos: An abridged translation of Dr. Jose Rizal’s Tagalog Novel, “Noli Me Tangere.” New York: The St. James Press, 1900]

    Picnicking, a whole day affair, carefree, blessed, pastime: “So the afternoon passed and the hour for departure arrived. Just as the sun was dropping below the horizon they left the woods. The trees seemed sad and all the surroundings seemed to bid them farewell and say: ‘Good-bye, happy youth; good-bye, dream of a day.’”

    In his time, Rizal wrote of “baskets of fruits such as pineapples, kasuys, bananas, guayabas and lanzones.” [Chapter XI: The Fishing Party] Visitors from overseas observed similarly “of fruits, they have melons, chicos, durians, marbolas, and oranges.” [Manila in 1842 By Com. Charles Wilkes, U.S.N.] The ascendants of the Malayan Filipinos had “all kinds of bananas, guavas, pineapples, custard apples, many varieties of oranges, and other varieties of fruits and herbs, with which the country teems.” [Antonio de Morga. History of the Philippine Islands: From their discovery by Magellan in 1521 to the beginning of the XVII Century. Mexico, 1609. Completely translated into English, edited and annotated by E.H. Blair and J.A. Robertson]

    Idyllic times BC. Before COVID-19. For Americans, which fruits? “Jus’ let me get out to California where I can pick me an orange when I want it. Or grapes. There’s a thing I ain’t never had enough of. Gonna get me a whole big bunch of grapes off a bush, or whatever, an’ I’m gonna squash ’em on my face an’ let ’em run offen my chin.” – William James “Grandpa” Joad

    How idyllic? Grapes are sweet, right? But circumstances can make them bitter. “Now farming became industry, and the owners followed Rome, although they did not know it. They imported slaves, although they did not call them slaves: Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans, Filipinos. They live on rice and beans, the businessmen said. They don’t need much. They wouldn’t know what to do with good wages. Why, look how they live. Why, look what they eat. And if they get funny—deport them.” [John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939]

    World War II was breaking out when the novel became a best-seller and a contemporaneous reviewer noted: “This part of the story reads like the news from Nazi Germany. Families from Oklahoma are known as ‘Okies.’ While they work they live in what might as well be called concentration camps.” [Peter Monro Jack, “John Steinbeck’s New Novel Brims With Anger and Pity,” April 16, 1939;]

    The movie version came out in 1940 and garnered the Best Actress In A Supporting Role for Jane Darwell and the Best Director for John Ford in the 13th Academy Awards in 1941: “The small shareholders who staked their claims 50 years earlier are forced off their land by bankers and big landholders…The novel and movie do last, I think, because they are founded in real experience and feeling. My parents were scarred by the Depression, it was a remembered devastation I sensed in their very tones of voice, and ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ shows half a nation with the economic rug pulled out from under it.” []

    Thus, on the 80th anniversary of this film, we share the concluding dialog: “I ain’t never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while it looked as though we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared…. Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain’t no good and they die out, but we keep a-coming. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out, they can’t lick us.” – Ma Joad

    We re-read and re-watch The Grapes of Wrath even as “China tries to calm ‘nationalist fever’ as calls for invasion of Taiwan grow” and dozens of Indian and Chinese soldiers had clashed on their shared border on a disputed plateau and “Japan wards off Chinese coastguard vessels caught chasing fishing boat in East China Sea.”

    Heating up there and here. Filipinos hope that there shall be no water shortages and summertime deaths. [;;]

    Dams and water supply are truly critical. During a Luzon summer 75 years ago, an enemy had to be dislodged from a strategic infrastructure. The Allied operation has been recorded as “The Capture of Ipo Dam.”

    “The Marking Guerrillas, led by Col. Marcos V. Agustin, carried out extensive combat operations in the mountains northeast of Manila. After a month’s hard training and fighting with the troops of the U.S. 43rd Division, Colonel Agustin’s force, numbering some 3,000 men, was assigned a part in the powerful assault on Ipo Dam, the largest of the three dams supplying Manila. While two prongs of the 43rd Division converged on the dam from the south and west, the guerrilla force formed a third prong that came down from the northwest. The Japanese were routed from their defense positions, and the dam was captured intact. After successfully completing their assignment in the Ipo sector, the Marking Guerrillas pursued the fleeing remnants of the enemy into the hills and later aided considerably in other missions which, in the words of the 43rd Division Commander, Maj. Gen. Leonard F. Wing, otherwise would have required costly and protracted action by American forces.” [Manila Free Philippines, June 2, 1945, p. 3]


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