Hinog sa Pilit

by Evelyn Miranda-Feliciano

“I shouldn’t have done it,” David slapped the banana skin on his empty plate, ruing. “It’s bland like paper paste!”

“What is it?” I asked surprised by the sudden change in his voice and the topic of our conversation over breakfast of oatmeal and fish pinaksiw, a combination only Filipinos can think of.

“This banana,” he pointed to the sickly yellow peeling of lacatan on his plate. “I was afraid the whole bunch would be stolen from its trunk so I cut it down hoping it will ripen itself soon enough. Now, look at the result!”

I knew all along it would end up still edible, yes, but not pleasant to the palate when he lugged it home on a wheelbarrow. It took a month before the slim fingers turned tentatively ochre in the bowels of a kaing covered with dry banana leaves, plastic sacks and discarded jeans. And when I finally put them on the table, we would keep on looking inside the refrigerator for some other desserts. The bananas were hinog sa pilit. We could not even offer them to our visitors or give to departing guests as pabaon. The bananas were not only embarrassing to look at they were insulting to the one you want to give it to. Sometimes, too, around here people resort to hinog sa pilit for quick money. Pineapples that appear in off-season months usually get a dose of ethyl, a liquid chemical to force fruiting and another swab on the base of each fruit to ripen it for the market. The fruit may look impressive outside, but the inside is unhealthy yellow with a “bite” in it once eaten to make us refuse second servings.

Hinog sa pilit. How like the Charter change being pushed by the present government using what it calls “people’s initiative.” This I reflected as I was making my brisk walk on my imaginary pathways circling the house that morning. I am part of that “people” in its “people initiative” but I cannot find any valid reason that changing the Constitution now will make life better under this dispensation. What needs changing to my mind is the composition of people holding power at present. The ingenuousness with which PGMA and its hallelujah choir boys came out with Sigaw ng Bayan to solicit the signatures using full government machinery and money clearly shows the move is not from the people but from government. That in itself kills any creative initiatives people may have left on their own.

As part of the masa, I hate the thought of being manipulated by my own government simply because I am regarded as a simpleton and in constant need so I make kapit sa patalim. Thus, I can be swayed along to put my name on a piece of paper for a few kilos of rice, noodles and sugar. I don’t want my government misinforming me that my signature can help change the entire present Constitution and form of government when in fact the whole exercise has no legal basis for lack of an enabling law. I am repulsed by a government that distorts facts and realities to advance its own selfish interests through my signatures because it is afraid of its own shadow of shady deals, corrupt practices and questionable election into office. I am outraged by a government that bamboozles me to obedience by martial fiats and orders and still disguise itself as a democracy. The frenzy, the hysterical optimism, the speed with which the so-called “people’s initiative” is being rammed on the consciousness of the nation is a desperate attempt by this government to make hinog sa pilit, a move that is altogether unripe, out of season, unreasonable, unconstitutional.

And anything forced to ripen before its time, before its natural maturity arrives – pineapple or political process – comes out distasteful, disappointing, if not repulsive. Ang hinog sa pilit ay mapakla, mapait. Or, it could be, like in politics, explosive.

“I won’t pick any fruit if it’s ripe for the pocking again,” my husband resolved during breakfast that morning. He stood up. “If it gets stolen, so be it.” He rummaged the inside of the fridge for something, I didn’t know what.

I smiled to myself remembering his words as I panted now about to finish my daily exercise. Would PGMA allow her presidential seat to be “stolen” from her through a real people’s initiative of sustained civil disobedience, perhaps? Like not paying your taxes, boycotting certain products and services, OFW withholding their money, government employees not appearing in their places of work as suggested by a columnist? It was even suggested that priests not hold masses for the people. This is all to oppose the one up there who claims she is God-sent to be the “best leader” of our time. I greatly wonder how it would be.

It may not come to that. Or it may. Still, ang hinog sa pilit ay mapakla at mapait.

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Evelyn Miranda-Feliciano is a free lance writer and lecturer. Send feedback to isacc.admed @ gmail . com