A celebration of authenticity

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By Gingging Avellanosa-Valle

Bahin sang Bubay

Friday, August 15, 2014

IT IS not always easy to stand before a crowd and talk, especially if you need to be real, and speak about how you think on something or consider someone. However, when that someone happens to be a person that is closer than yourself to your inner self, then, the tendency would be that you will soon find it hard to stop talking, and before you know it, you can easily lose yourself and you wouldn’t know how to stop.

It is a privilege though to be talking about a fellow in the craft who is writing her soul in the pages of her body, who does not live in the mountains but belongs to it.

The moment Sr. Mila sets foot at the base of Toruyan in Marilog District, her weary face is gone, and its stead is a radiant, almost child-like enthusiasm that brightens her whole countenance and lightened her bulk of a body (never mind if ‘Tor’, the kindly and ever-patient horse that used to carry her in its back may have heaved a sigh and mustered enough courage to bring her each time they would together tackle the steep trek towards Toruyan.)


I couldn’t forget one time how, after Tor slowly struggled to carry Sr. Mila up to the mountains for some minutes who sympathetically talks to it gently so it could take one painstaking step at a time, the poor horse rolled on its back upon reaching their destination and cried out with utter relief towards the heavens, almost like saying “Salamat Ginoo, nisurvive pa ko…”

That is how Sr. Mila Gimeno, M.A., the author of this book entitled “Bulig” struck me the first time I got to really know her. Not once did she amaze me with her all too-consuming fervor in writing her thoughts each time something comes to her attention, especially regarding the Indigenous Peoples who are the beneficiaries of the Missionaries of the Assumption apostolate. It’s almost like an ever-flowing stream of spring waters elsewhere in Mindanao, pure and pristine in their sweetness, her thoughts cannot be held in abeyance, especially when these come from the heart of her mission.

She simply had to write down her thoughts every time.

And then, there is no stopping her hands from rigorously putting into print the inspiration that almost always fills her heart with gladness, words that she poured life into with the warmth of her love for God’s creation.

In this particular book about her close encounter with the people of God among the Indigenous Peoples, the Matigsalogs in Malabog, Paquibato District and in Toruyan, Marilog District for decades, Sr. Mila wrote with the ease and smoothness of the sparrow that glided in the cool sweetness of the trees in the mountains of Malabog.

“Bulig” is a Visayan term for a bunch (of bananas) that is taken down from the tree when it is fully grown and ripened. It is a symbol of her efforts and work with the Matigsalog community through the years, the collection of her essays, poems, journals and other narratives that has been written down and compiled for years and now, it is ready to be given birth.

It is a spiritual journey that anyone can relate with, as it is written from the depths of her soul. It touches the heart in a particular way such that it is surprisingly too close in connecting with the readers’ humanity.

A must-read and very revealing book that can take readers beyond the beauty and mesmerizing mysteries of life’s journey, home to the warm embrace of God’s creation…

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 16, 2014.


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