Saturday, May 30, 2009

White Water Rafting In CDO

Sunday morning and the never-empty premier park of the city, Divisoria, stirs up a buzz, but quite different from that of the two previous nights when this park gets transformed as the locale for the weekend night café.

This time it is for the now popular sports activity in the city noted for its river. It is white water rafting, widely patronized by the young uns both from local areas and by hordes of intrepid tourists from across the country.

As the pictures show white water rafting starts in the park. But initially with rafts above the heads of the would-be thrill seekers.

Lashed on top of massively-built vehicles known as the Philippine jeepneys. An unseemly amalgamation of designs and structures reminiscent of WW2 war vehicles, fitted with surplus Japanese engines and parts, joined with generic parts from local parts stores, splashed with tons of paint, and throw in a hippo for good measure. And what you see is this ugly monstrosity that passes as public utility vehicle in many parts of this country.

Less than an hour’s ride going west will bring these eager beavers to the different launching sites, for several hours of fun, frolic, and fear.

Have fun!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Maya Updates

Three days and counting, and these two are still alive – barely, from my vantage point. During the day, the mother visits regularly, though at the first signs of human presence she scampers and soars skyward. She sits at the nest entrance with prominent beak protruding outward.

Looking at the two hatchlings, one gets to understand why it was generally believed that birds were descended from the now extinct dinosaurs and not the present-day lizards. The formers’ young sure look like those gargantuan beasts of old.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Invading Privacy Of Maya's Nest

Image of Chestnut Mannikin (Lonchura malacca) from "Birds of the Philippines" (Gonzales & Rees1988).

The proud Maya has fallen into hard times. Once honored as the national bird of the Philippines and unrivaled denizen of rice fields and paddies, this feathered flyer has been stripped of its title and wrenched away from its natural habitat, quite unceremoniously and with utter derelict abandonment.

The country has replaced this chestnut beauty with the imposing Philippine eagle, since way back when. And adding insult to injury the maya has been driven away from its familiar, comfy and bountiful haunts with creeping urbanization and the subsequent disappearance of the once ubiquitous rice fields and paddies in the countryside of Mindanao’s provinces and the rest of the country.

Consigned to congested urbanized settings, it has had to make do with what it can find adaptable. Like nesting on the leafy branches of trees lining concreted city streets. Or on the occasional trees providing shade and comfort in some old city homes. Or even on any potted flora on top of the many multi-storey buildings punctuating the cityscape.

One such Maya family has honored us by nesting in one of the potted brushes of our building’s roof deck. It picked this one particular plant obviously because of its tightly-packed foliage. We had before noticed, but only upon closer scrutiny, the remains of a nest in this potted ornament but had not minded it much. Then recently, we found that it had been spruced up and fortified with more dried thicket.

Aha, we thought, a family is ready to move in and raise some chirpers.

The other day, one bright sunny morning, I almost had my heel on top of a wriggly pinkish piece of something live being attacked on all sides by a horde of frenzied black ants, on the barely-bearable heated concrete floor of the roof deck. Just the size of a little worm, and lying a few feet from the nested brush. It was only when I stooped low that I realized that that wriggly thing was a newly-hatched bird – naked without feathers, almost translucent body, a huge mound of head with discernible beak, and fighting for dear life against a determined enemy.

How did it get there?

I gave myself no time to answer that. So to shorten the narrative, picked it up, settled it inside a small shallow glass made comfy with some curled cotton threads and parts of toilet paper, and ensconce it on a little table on the shaded and airy part of the deck. Hoping the mother comes back and takes care of its young.

Sadly, when I came back the following morning, I found its dead inert body fully covered by small ants feasting on its tiny carcass. Anger and revenge got the better of me so without any second thought, decided to quickly carry the glass over to the sink. Filling it to the brim dumped it in the middle of a deep baking pan already filled to the brim with water. Pretty soon the pan was a sorry maze of dead ants and ants flailing around with nowhere to go. The quick trip to the drain ended the gory scene.

That late afternoon almost instinctively, curiosity led me back to the nest. With point and shoot camera taut and ready, this voyeur was ready to invade somebody’s privacy.

Approaching the brush slowly this predator started clicking away in some cadence. From a distance until I was mere inches away. It was almost twilight so the flash was also working overtime. Before I could bat an eyelash and squint to focus, the unnoticed mother had shot out of the nest and left home and hearth in a huff and without even a by your leave.

These are what I found inside.

Life created – elemental, naked, helpless, humble, and at the world’s mercy.

Will these two get to witness life as adults? Will both find harsh realities rewarding, or worth all the trouble?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Neri Genealogy: Some More Thoughts

What really continue to confound are the countless persons carrying the surname or middlename, Neri, even in our little locality. From the younger generations to the oldest still living and extant. Based on personal knowledge and because I met her a week or so ago, the oldest Neri I know is Pureza Neri Ramos who is in her 90’s. And mind you, she has a sister in San Francisco, USA, who has already hit the century mark. So what about you? What are some of your own personal experiences?

But how are we really related?
Given the available data and postulating on some of the unknowns, the best case scenario I continue to hold as a distinct possibility of our being related is this.

But first, let us review what we have.

Regardless of which parts can be considered legends or historical facts, the story is told that a Sampurna from Lanao came to settle in Cagayan and married into a native-born family. He succeeded Prince Salangsang as ruler of Cagayan. In 1779, he was baptized by Fr. Pedro de Santa Barbara, who was the registered parish priest then, and was given the name of Neri.

We are said to have all descended from him; the name, Neri, being so different from other common names then, being so Italian.

Until the turn of that century (18th) not much is traceable about that nascent Neri family. But the start of the new century (19th) ushered in many local Neri families.

The families of Juan Neri and Anastacia Chaves, and the husband’s sister, Maria, who married Filomeno Chaves. The families of the brothers Lino and Salvador Neri. And that of little-known Leon Neri. The Neri’s mentioned above appeared to have been born very close to each other.

Were they and presumably many others who remained unnamed and unknown all siblings? Coming from the same father and mother, christened a scant 21 years before?

I seriously doubt they all came from the same mother. There is anyway no data to show that they all did. If they indeed all came from the same mother, why no mention in any of the several known branches of the Neri clan? We know the father was Sampurna who came from Lanao, who started carrying the name Neri in 1779. But no mention of the mother or mothers.

So what about this. We all share the same father progenitor but from different mothers.


As is common even to this day, an influential and affluent Muslim family may be composed of one husband and multiple wives. Which is allowed in the culture and I believe, in the religion, too. In other words, so the datus of old practiced polygamy. It is interesting to note that the bisayan word for rich is datu. If one could afford it, one could have multiple wives.

Thus, a likely scenario for our mythical Sampurna, prince ruler of Cagayan, was a mass christening of his family of many wives and many children.

Thus, a mere 21 years later we witnessed a prolific flowering of the Neri name among the many prominent descendants who graced the historical landscape of our little rustic community at the start of the 19th century and all the way to the present. And beyond. And breaking geographical barriers. From the temperate climate of Scandinavia to the desert sands of the Middle East. To the many cosmopolitan nooks and crannies of the United States.

And yes, it continues to proliferate in the little confines of the old poblacion of Cagayan de Oro and its far-flung barrios.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Genealogy: The Neri Family of Mindanao

Just realized that adding more comments to the original blog entry has become problematic, so decided to introduce a new blog entry with the same title for purposes of future updates and for new comments.

Those visiting this original blog entry please add your comments here please.

Let’s keep them coming.