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"Our House Is a Very Very Fine House"

Happy memories for more than five years now.

There's the mango tree in our backyard. Well, that's not entirely true. Actually, that's our neighbor's. The ilang-ilang tree which is also the neighbor's.

I bought the initial forget me nots, 'G' grew the rest. There's also the bogainvilia trellis - ours, and which later on turned unwieldy.

There's the (yellow flowering)plants but I don't know its exact name. And the olive tree? But of course, the jack fruit tree is 'G's baby. I wonder if we will ever get to taste it's fruit? I have been trying to plead with the tree, 'please bear fruit already'. So far no result. Sigh!!

Ahhh but it's a happier story with the atis tree. We have so far eaten 5 large sweet and delicious fruits from the 3 feet tree.

I also have herbs. Or should I say used to. There's oregano. I had 3 different types of basil, along with rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and sage. Too bad for me. They were unable to withstand our backyards "infertile" soil. Among my herbs, its the oregano which is still gives me the pleasure. Sigh again!!

Our garden also is home to many insects. One is these centipede like crawlers, black and brown in color and about 1 1/2 inch long. They are all over the place -- under the dead leaves, near the plants, in my 'dirty' kitchen. There's also the spiders spinning their webs on top of the jackfruit and atis(sweet sop)trees. And the ants, aahh yes, the ants -- black and red. The red ants feast on my bitter gourd and squash.It seems there's no letting up.

And not to forget, the butterflies. One is yellow and the other is white. Day in and day out they go after the nectars of my yellow flowering plant.

There's also the aphids which suck out the white juice of my olive trees. Sigh for the 3rd time. :-)

And what could be worst than termites in your garden? Nuff said!!!

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The Ibanag Family in Retrospect

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No one ever talks back. Let alone me. I can not recall if there ever was an instance when I mastered enough courage to explain anything even when there was a chance to do so. But it sure did happen one day when I was already 26 years old and had 2 children. Swell. :-)

The elderly are treated with respect in the Ibanag culture. Deference is essential if not required and is lavishly displayed and shown. Proper language and the right tone of voice characterize conversations with the elders. It is not uncommon to take the elder’s hand, bring it to the forehead or kiss the hand to show courtesy and respect.

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I learned the dialect by just hearing it from my Mother who use it everytime her relatives come to our home to visit. And this was not that often. You see, her relatives from Isabela, that's where she was born, come to spend their vacation with us every summer, yes the whole summer months. And yes, EVERY summer of EVERY year. Well, they don't come empty handed. They bring sacks of rice, ample stocks of meat enough to feed all of us for 1 month. They bring live animals too, like chicken, piglets, not to mention baskets of fruits and vegetables, even our neighbors get their share.

Wherever Ibanags are, you know they are around because they are so loud and so noisy. They have this habit of speaking all at the same time :-)Sigh. Now if that is not enough reason for anyone to learn the dialect, I …

Ibanag and Filipino Childbirth Rituals

"For parents, birth rituals and ceremonies provide an immediate sense of connection as well as inclusion of the child into the clan, tribe or community. These rituals establish at a very early stage, who they are. The rituals also serve as guideposts as they grow and develop their own sense of identity. Even if they drift away from or reject their heritage, their early experiences give them a place to return to if they so choose".

The Ibanag culture is filled with childbearing rituals and practices which have been handed down from one generation to another. Here are some of them.

1. It is said that if a pregnant woman has a lot of blemishes or pimples on her face, her baby will be a girl.
2. If the mother glows and radiates beauty, the baby will be a boy.
3. If the mother craves for sweets and other carbohydrates, the baby will be a girl.
4. If the mother is craving for oily or fried foods, the baby will be a boy.
5. The mother should not eat 'balut' (a native duck egg d…