Friday, October 03, 2008

Informing psyche and sinew

WHATEVER the left hand does accrues information to the right lobe of the brain which has a will of its own—it’s the portion that plies emotion, art, imagination… who knows what else. The brain’s left side governs speech and rational thought—and the right hand is the left brain’s servant.

With such facts down pat, the children grew up being drilled for hours in the use of both hands in, well, hands-on tasks. There’s a lot more than tons of muscle memory stored up over the years in such mundane tasks as hacking out through howling seas of cogon in the forbidding parts of the Sierra Madre to clear patches of land for transplanting trees. Or pounding spices and food condiments with mortar and pestle for everyday cookery, even catching shrimps or wee fishes for hours among the shoals of a river… even doing the dishes or a constant stirring of ube jalea or purple yam jam in which every kid has a turn at 20 counts of roiling the concoction as it cooks on a cast-iron cauldron over live embers.

There’s more than a handful of knowledge in cookery and rookery gained there. Hands-on tasks inform psyche and sinew, nurture brain growth and--over time-- build up a colorful, expressive yet down-to-earth vocabulary. The more one does hands-on work and gains hands-on competence, the broader and deeper one’s vocabulary becomes: a stock of 700 words is minimum to get along; a 3,000 word stockpile to have a job; a 10,000 word store to have a social role; and 60,000 to have a say in making up the language.

Include in the wealth of lexicon a certain oddity called lanka, an economy of movement in straight-telling body language. Kakaiba ang pangungusap na ipapatalastas at ibabalikwas ng galaw ng katawan na pinanday sa gawain sa mahabang singkad ng panahon.

Hinoldap daw ang aming bunso, dalawa ang nagsalikop sa kanya. Pumalag. Kinadyot ng siko ang kumalawit at isa pang dumikit. Tiklop ang mga inupakan sa iglap na salpukan.

That must have been a muay move. A killer elbow blow aimed at the rib cage—it takes one fucking pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure to cause rib bone to snap like pretzel—and such a blow can whip out a dozen or more PSI to cause the slammed-on ribs to break and, well, likely to jab into the lungs, touch off internal bleeding that may result in a slow, painful death… unless a surgeon intervenes for a savings-wrenching operation.

PSI. Sigh…

Mabubungkal ang malalim na ugat ng ganoong iglap na kislot ng katawan sa kung ilan ding taon na paghawan ng mga bata ng kugon sa Sierra Madre. Matagalang pag-aaral iyon. Masinsinang paghubog ng kaalaman na ilalaman sa bawat himaymay ng laman. Uh, shorinji kempo translates literally as “physical skills or inner truth reaped from a small forest.” Kendo or tengu geijutsu-ron is “the art of mountain demons.” Very spiritual disciplines those.

Mahirap talagang magpalaki ng musmos na anak, parang mga batangan na kailangang salinan ng kung anu-anong kakayahan, kailangang hubugin pati ang kanilang mga kamay sa samut-saring gawain upang mapaunlad at lumago ang kanilang diwa’t kaisipan.

To recap: right hand tasks go to left brain lobe to nurture reason and speech. Left hand, right brain lobe to temper emotion, art, creative imagination, brute level instincts, and God knows what else.

It’s all about getting in touch with the needs of the growing child, enabling, ennobling and shaping each in the lathe of workaday tasks. Mahirap magkulang sa pagiging magulang. Kailangan talagang magaling sa panggugulang.

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