Poor Simo


By Cha Monforte

Poor Simo. All for him is only for witnessing. For decades he’s been poor, a small sari-sari owner selling tuba for one. That’s all he knows of for a living, with his wife at his side. He’s illiterate when he arrived during the great migration of Visayans when Mindanao was bannered as the country’s resource frontier. His two children are now married. Both graduated from public high school. His son is now a laborer in Manila. His daughter has married one of town’s typical unemployed who frequents the bilyaran of the public market, or goes to the barrios during pre-fiesta time to bet in a hantak gambling operated for years by a known rogue cop in town.

Poor Simo. He could only smoke a poor man’s cigar popular among the farmers. But he has a backyard garden from where he gets his kamonggay, tangkong, sibuyas, kamatis and rootcrops. At least, when the other goodies he is selling like the Red Horse aren’t consumed by the neighborhood youths who now prefer to play Ran and other online games while browsing their Friendster, download MP3 songs or watch sexy bodies in the Net, he has a green veggie fallback to rely on. Otherwise, old Nong Simo consumes the accessible packs of noodles.

Poor Simo. His hoarse laughter is one consolation he could give to the youths who patronize his store after cracking spirited jokes from a true plebian as he is. At least the youths understand he could adjust to the vagaries of their new culture. Pag-sure uy! Such timely hilarity of Nong Simo shows he’s one keeping abreast with the goings on of today’s youths. On the other hand, he knows much of the latest buzz among local politicians when he’s got the barangay kagawads or government workers drinking wine or beer at his small makeshift store cum residence. Simo is no teetoller. He’s just a sober drinker when asked for a shot by the usual drunkards in his neighborhood leaving his and wife staring even at the wee hours at night. When they have their drinks, Nong Simo can’t close his store by 10 P.M.

Poor Simo. While he’s now having a good time viewing on a TV unit bought by his vacationing son last December and getting the latest news from ABS-CBN or GMA, he still tunes in to AM radio which has been in his side when the broadcasters Freddie Vergara and Teny Banson were still too popular in the airwaves. But the talk that Nong Simo got wind of lately from the radyo de baktas, the word of mouth, which he prefers to believe, is that crumpled P20 bills came raining ordinarily in our highways guarded by combined TMG and cops from delivery and cargo trucks and the three P100 bills from trucks carrying logs with “permits” for the DENR folks during nighttime.

Poor Simo. He has long known about this P20. It was only P5 two decades ago for the pot-bellied buayas. But he doesn’t know yet how much is being dropped from trucks carrying the real hot logs without permits for DENR’s picking. What he has known of since then is that when hands of those on top are caught inside the cookie jar under the media spotlight, corruption trickled down in national scale. Though highwaymen thrive only on crumpled P20 bills, but when it rains of such amount, it pours down the highways that highwaymen could always well afford sending their college students to nursing schools.

Poor Simo. The buayas he has long known of have not been exterminated from the face of the highways. He knows that when night-time guarding buayas flash their flashlights to the truck windshields and quickly moving the light downward pointing to the pavement of the highways, it’s not actually a warning of flagging down the passing truck but a sign for the trucks to drop in the crumbled P20 bill for their uninterrupted passage.

Poor Simo. He’s now thinking that if the highwaymen get their petty loot nowadays uninterrupted, just how pervasive corruption has now become under GMA. Now he’s thinking of the vulnerabilities in the billions of the Katas ng VAT that are dangled here and there and everywhere. Though Nong Simo is old and poor, he’s a thinker, indeed as he is.

Compostela Mayor Rey Castillo must apologize to Gob. Chiongkee Uy for his oversight of not including one of his good friends during the last Friday’s Compostela Araw culmination. The mayor’s oversight not only brings a toll of animosities and unhealthy speculations. It questions the much-touted political unity in Comval… We don’t know if the good mayor could produce his own unity ring made of pure gold from his town’s mines. Bango has long been emptied of gold…. Rural Urban News is offering crash journalism courses for campus journalists and school paper advisers. Txt 09069104553. (For my online edition, visit: https://cha4t.wordpress.com)


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