Rain dance for rain, to cast out evil | Inquirer Opinion
Human Face

Rain dance for rain, to cast out evil

After Maynilad Water Services Inc., the water and wastewater services provider for 17 cities and municipalities in Metro Manila, announced last week that there will be everyday water interruptions for an indeterminate period because of the impending El Niño dry spell, there was a mad scramble for pails, tubs, tanks, and other water containers.

It was going to be “pila-balde” (banish the erotic undertone) season for many, especially for those in depressed areas. All except for the privileged government officials—local and national—who have yet to install water entrapment and collection systems in this often water-logged archipelago. The irony of it all.

Desalinization, no longer a new technology, is centuries away for this nation whose leaders would rather see reclamation of land from the sea but not water minus the salt. That we are also running short of salt is another tragic-comedic story.

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Sure, there have been regular news reports about the decreasing water level at the Angat Dam, the main source of Maynilad water. But despite the start of the rainy season having been officially announced by the government weather bureau, still a water crisis is to be expected, we are warned. A couple of tropical depressions have already entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility and dumped rains, so what’s with Angat Dam and the water reservoirs it supplies?

Manila Water Co. Inc., also a concessionaire for other parts of the metro, did not make similar warnings.

Girding for the worst, Maynilad customers got a taste of the unwelcome daily nighttime water interruption but—alleluia!—for one night only. Tropical Storm “Dodong” unleashed heavy rains that flooded Metro Manila streets and left towns and villages in Bulacan and Pampanga north of Manila still in knee-deep waters as of this writing and long after Dodong has departed.

But oh, perhaps, because of Maynilad’s ominous announcement last week, the Dumagat-Remontado indigenous community that inhabits parts of the Sierra Madre mountain range staged a rain dance to call on the heavens to water the fields and valleys and replenish the water of Angat Dam that supplies 95 percent of the metro’s water. And so the heavens opened and poured down rain accompanied by rolling thunder and blasts of lightning (”Water supply cuts on hold; MWSS cites ‘rain dance,’” News, 7/16/23).

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Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System administrator Leonor Cleofas chirped: “I’m happy to say that I believe that the ancestors heard our indigenous group after they performed a rain dance [last] Monday.” Note that members of this indigenous peoples (IP) community marched from Quezon province to Metro Manila and across several provinces for more than a week early this year to protest the impending construction of the Kaliwa Dam on their ancestral domain. The dam is supposed to boost Metro Manila’s water supply.

I have written many articles on our IPs, but I am not familiar with their rain dances that their Native American counterparts are known for. The latter are known to perform the rain dance, not only to summon rains from the sky, but to also cleanse the land of evil spirits. It is a prayer of supplication. It echoes in a saying attributed to author Paulo Coelho: “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” And from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

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I hope our IPs’ sacred ritual does not get defiled by mindless cultural iconoclasts who might turn it into some kind of hip-hop number or by attention-seekers who cannot tell the difference between the profound and the profane. Do not cross the line. (Examples: the clueless beauty contestant who dressed like the Santo Niño; the cross-dressers who sang and choreographed the “Our Father” like an entertain number.)

As to the rain dance’s cleansing power against evil—why not? There is much in this country that needs to be cleaned out, to be exorcised. IPs have a keen sense of what is not right, of the evil that roams the land and defiles the waters and the woodlands. They see the beautiful in its purest splendor.

Something we might not easily perceive in a sacred rain dance—the universe’s interconnectedness at work or perhaps quantum physics and the spiritual energy that it unleashes. It is a field for mystics and quantum physicists, and for those who can hear the laughter of the trees when rain gently falls.

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TAGS: dry spell, El Niño, water

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