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Field of Dreams

By: Glo Abaeo

FIELD OF DREAMS. Created by age-old hands, these fields has defined a race that describes the past and the future of Maligcong.

Up in the highlands of the Mountain Province is a somewhat secluded municipality with terraced fields sculptured by age-old hands. This time the fields are barren, filled up with water, a few farmers sinking their their shins in the mud to work it with their beasts to prepare it for the next planting season. In the early sun, the watered paddies shone like giant bronze steps leading up to the upper terraces. Whatever is up on those final steps seem much like landing pads or altars of sorts, or nothing at all but the wind and blue skies. That is if one is looking up. Turning the opposite side and looking down is another story.

From above the view is a suspension of a race. Like a bird watching the coming and going of seasons and the passing of clouds, one can almost see the creation of a culture. Out of the dust that moulded these mountains came out these terraced fields of dreams.

For how long can a race sculpt the mountains without a master plan? All on bent backs under scorching heat and the pouring rains when the seasons turn. The aged lines on their foreheads much like the lines along these rice paddies, maybe those were the unwritten maps that in reverse appeared on everybody while paving these mountains. So the ascendants of these people created and for a long time these monumental architectures stayed hidden among these people.

But Maligcong as this place is called soon came into view. Barely an hour from Bontoc ascending a dirt road into a beaten path, the land soon comes into stark view. Beautifully situated like a dais, the main view opens up into an arena. Semi-circular and terraced into giant steps for giant warriors, only here there are no foes.

Looking intently across the paddies, the seeds are laid down still stringed on their stalks, lined up on their “watery graves” to die and rise up again in tiny sprouts. Start another season of green for a few months before the golden grains bend them all to bow on the very earth they grew upon. The rice cycle defines the life of this race, the people of Maligcong live mostly on agriculture. Farming has been a way of life since

Photo 2. Old chaffs are lined up across the paddies to help retain the water and to rot and become organic composts for the new seeds. Photo 3. Seeds still strung in their stalks are laid down across the paddies to root and grow. Photo 4. Harvest time... (author in picture)

most of them have known from way back when. Pointing above land, a farmer said the water comes from there, in the direction of another municipality with an altogether different culture. Separated only by mountain ranges, these different races have mostly kept to themselves over time, to be united somehow only during the last few decades. History has so much color to these people. Though life to them came simply, they were once defined by bits and pieces of violence, peace, love, hate, hardships, bounty and now slowly by progress.

When visiting the Mountain Province and idly lying on your back with thoughts of rest, put back on those hiking shoes and gear up for the mountains of Maligcong, and you will understand a bit the sacrifices and the story of a race etched on those Field of Dreams.

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