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ADORA and the MAGIC PORTAL (tales from my Crib, for my

grandchildren Nikki, Halee, Zeke and KoiKoi)

Painting by Dulz Cuna


Mentor an Babayeng Kahoynon
Acrylic and Mixed Media on Cork
36x 24

Adora looked beyond the terrain of the valley. There were no forests anymore.
Everything was plain. Months back, people felled the trees in the forest and made
them float down the hidden river down the nearby valley slopes. Birds did not fill
the air, their nests went down when the trees fell down. All around the tree stumps
was the burnt ground, an attempt to clean and flat-out the land. Adora was sad. She
reminisced the days when she played in the forest edge. She wondered what was
deep down in the forest. Nanay and Tatay told her not to venture far into the valley
forests for there was a strange world within. People in the village whispered of a
portal that appears in the middle of the forest once during Kadayao (full moon), in
the month of May. Many have ventured into that portal and never came back. Apo
Tekari, the old nonagenarian of the village was the only person who came back, but
the story of the land beyond the portal and the place where it was found in the
forest was all jumbled up in his mind that the townsfolk thought of him as daft and
senile or must have been enchanted. His story parts told of a telltale century-old
tree and birds with kaleidoscope plumes flying hither and thither in the air and the
land green with tropical shrubs, trees which held juicy fruit that glistened in the sun,
and a stream of clear water where wildcats and monkeys drank and played..

Apo Tekari said that there is a secret hidden in that place beyond the portal. The
zephyrs told him of a wonderful woman Babaylan (Healer) who lived there and who
had the answers to everything there is, and who knew of many things. It was told
she lived in the past, the present and also in the future. She was a magical healer
and it was said she could reverse back time and correct it.. But Apo Tekari said he
never met her. The zephyrs whispered again that she only appears when she is
really needed. When Apo ventured into the portal it was only out of whim and
curiosity. The zephyrs also said that he must go back to the world outside the portal
before the dawn breaks else he would never go back again to his world and turn
into a wildcat or monkey, for that happened to the curious people who dilly-dallied
time within the portal. So Apo Tekari hurried out of the portal before it disappeared
in the forest.

Apo Tekaris story was the same over and over again and Adora thought of it to be
the villages susumaton (oral tradition). Apo Tekari grew old with the story all these
years and he said he had never chanced upon the portal again in all his treks deep
down the forest at full moon. All he had now were the memories and the anecdote
he tells over and over again..

Now the forests have been razed down to the ground and all that was seen were the
stumps of trees cut down and the scorched ground left from the forest fire. Adora
could not do anything but stare at the sight with moist eyes. If the forest is gone,
then the portal is also gone, that is, if the story of Apo Tekari is true. The stream
that run into a cleft in the field was still and murky. There were no more lily pads on
the water, or dragonflies that hummed from the lotus bloom to bloom--it was a
visage of desolation, of the bare and dry, black earth..

Adora was about to doze off in a nap late that afternoon. She was in the little shack
that her Tatay built as an outhouse beside the edge of the forest as a storage for
rattan twines and nipa leaves that he gathered for livelihood, when she saw a
glimmer off the slope of the plain. It grew larger and larger by the second. She
glanced up at the sky and saw a huge moon looming. The light on the slope had an
oval shape and Adora could not help but be drawn to it. So she sauntered towards
it, stumbling and tripping effortlessly near the light. It was the Portal!

Peering within, she saw patches of blue sky with tall, green forest trees of a
landscape in the hazy core of the oval light. She stepped in and entered.
Immediately, a cool and rustling breeze brushed against her hair and cheeks
whispering a word of Welcome.

In front of her was a tropical forest with a very large, century-old tree with will-o-
wisps that circled around its withered bark. The little lights looked like its leaves and
some clumped together in bunches on its branches. This must be the very old tree
Apo Tekari told in his story, thought Adora. She was mesmerized by the stray lights
that floated around the tree. She made a move closer and felt its sparkle in her skin.

All around the old tree were tropical shrubs that had fragrant flowers on them. Thick
blooms like ginger flowers and orchids hang from branches of tall rubber trees and
banana fronds. A pond flowed into a stream and was lined with lily pads and lotus
blooms, skimming dragonflies played with the green frogs that settled in the pads
like sentinels. Lotus blooms opened up to catch the gentle spray of rain from the
treetops. On the branches, birds of different colour filled the air with birdcalls and
tweets. Here and there, flying or swaying from branch to branch were parrots,
macaques and hornbills. It was a magical wonderland of a rainforest..
Then something stirred in the old tree that loosened the clump of silvery will-o-
wisps in the branches..some of them floated like dandelion seeds around the old
tree. From within its rough bark a beautiful lady appeared. She was not old and
aged like the bark of the tree, but youthful. She was all aglow with the light of the
tree and in her hand she held a golden egg which she handed over to the Adora,
who was rapt with wonder. Come.. she whispered take this and place it in the
field in your world to roost. When it hatches, it will heal your world.

Adora received the golden egg and carefully wrapped it with her bandana (scarf)
and held it closely to her bosom. Remember, when your world will be healed, give
all you can to take care of it.. believe in the power of light and make a difference.
With this, the magical lady slowly receded back to the tree in a faint glow of light.
Adora was arrested in silence by the awesome moment. Then the breezes started to
gently push her towards the oval portal, it was time, it said to go back to her world
before the sun rises and do what the Babaylan lady told her. Adora took a deep
breath of the magical air of the rainforest and exited the portal to the dark, ravaged
and stump ridden slopes of her world.

Adora laid her bandana on a stump near the dark murky river. She placed the
golden egg on top and watched Kadayao moving on to her moonset. She waited
beside it, all prepared for the hatching of the egg.

The egg moved and a little hole appeared followed by a crack. Then a very large
bird of iridescent feathers came out and spread its colourful wings as if to oblate the
coming of the dawn. The awakened sun peered glowing in the horizon and the bird
let out a shriek and flew up into the air encircling the arid land with its flight. Then
the rain came. It was the soft gentle rain of dawn. It watered the land and stirred
the river. Green sprouts sprung from the ground and spread like green washed
carpet over the slopes. In a moment shrubs appeared full of buds and flowers. Tall
trees shoot up and loomed on the plain, then all of a sudden, the whole rainforest
came back, alive and green again!

The colourful bird of iridescent feathers flew its last circle around the slope and the
river came to life back again with water lily pads spreading from bank to bank. Birds
filled and air and nested on the tall trees as the magical birld flew far into the
distant peaks. Adora could not believe what was happening, but at the back of her
mind, the whisper of the Babaylan echoed in her ear: Believe..and you can make a
difference!

She went back to the stump where she left her bandana for she was in a hurry to
return back to the village to tell her experience and visit Apo Tekari and tell him that
his tale was true and that she met the magical lady at last. It was a great surprise
when she found her bandana for placed on top of it was a heap of gold nuggets as
large as big berries. Overwhelmed she wrapped them and carried them home.
A few years after, the rainforest still thrived. But right on the entrance, near the
outhouse is a sign: Welcome! This is the Portal Rainforest Reserve, please preserve
its ecology and make a difference. By Order: The Adora Rangers of PRR

Written on Christmas Eve, 2012


By Dulz Cuna
Mahasarakham, Isan Province, Thailand

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