Don’t Lose Your Head

Perhaps you’ve heard of the advice that goes something like this: Be careful, or you’re gonna lose your head.

For some creatures, apparently this warning should be taken literally.

One morning last week, while I was working at our clinic, I noticed a praying mantis resting on our glass window. Our office room is one huge room that I share with my other partners.

One doctor partner of mine also saw the praying mantis and nonchalantly said that female praying mantis sometimes chomp off the head and eat their male partner after they mate or even while they are mating.

What?!!

I don’t think I heard that fact before. Maybe I was absent that day or missed that lesson during my biology class in high school and college. I know some creatures cannibalize their mates. The most notorious perhaps is the black widow spider, that’s why they are named such.

Other creatures that kill their mate after copulation includes the jumping spider, some scorpions, and some octopus. You probably have heard the song, “Love Hurts” by the rock band Nazareth. But for these creatures, love kills!

Our office secretary also overheard our conversation, and started ‘googleling’ some facts and videos about praying mantis.

I learned that mantids (plural of mantis) have 2 large eyes and 3 smaller ones and have stereo-vision. They can also rotate their head 180 degrees, enabling them to scan their whole surrounding. But maybe that’s the reason they are decapitated by their female mate, so they won’t look around anymore for another mate.

By the way, they are called “praying” mantis, because they have a stance that their front legs are folded like they are praying. The word “mantis” in Greek means prophet or seer. But don’t be fooled with this angelic pose, for they are deadly predators, preying on smaller insects. Bigger mantis can even prey on lizards, frogs, and birds. Yes, they prey even on their mates! They should be called “preying” mantis.

Such an opposite meaning between praying and preying. Do we sometimes give a different impression than who we really are? Do we hide horns underneath the halo? Maybe those mantids are just praying before they prey on their meal.

So back to my story, after hearing more facts from our secretary, courtesy of Dr. Google, we wondered whether the mantis on our window is a male or a female. Doctors can be very inquisitive, you know.

We learned that differentiating a male from a female praying mantis is quite simple. A male mantis has 8 abdominal segments, while the female has only 6.

So we looked closely on the praying mantis on our window whose belly is very visible to us. We determined that it is a male.

IMG_5440

praying mantis on our window

Doctors can determine the sex of the fetus or an unborn baby by looking at ultrasound images. They can determine the sex of a skeletal remains by anthropometric measures and bone features. They can even determine the sex where a tissue sample came from by doing genetic testing. But in our case, we also determined the sex of a praying mantis by simply looking at its belly.

After learning all these, we said to the mantis, “Be careful buddy, or you’re gonna lose your head.”

I guess, the warning applies to humans too, especially for the young ones. Many times we lose our head, in a sense that when the ‘love bug’ bit us, we lose our mind and we abandon our thinking brain, as we behave and act against all reasoning.

As Francisco Balagtas, a Filipino poet wrote long time ago in his work Florante at Laura:

O pag-ibig na makapangyarihan, pag pumasok sa puso nino man, hahamakin ang lahat masunod ka lamang.

(Love, all-powerful thou art, when you enter anyone’s heart, all will be abandoned, just to follow thy path.)

To all lovers out there, not just for the mantids, please keep your head.

*******

(*English interpretation of the excerpt from Florante and Laura is my own translation.)

 

Hamog

Parang kumot na sumusuklob sa damong giniginaw,

IMG_5015

O balabal na bumabalot sa paligid kong tanaw,

IMG_5017

At parang kurtinang tumatabing sa araw na sumisilaw,

IMG_5027

Ang mga ulap na humahalik sa lupa at nanliligaw,

IMG_5022

Gaya ng pag-ibig na tila hamog sa pusong nauuhaw.

IMG_5016

(*photos taken with an iPhone during my morning run)

*******

Post Note: since a reader asked, here’s the English translation for my non-Filipino readers and followers:

Dew
Like a blanket that covers the shivering grass,
Or a heavy cloak that the surrounding it wraps,
Or like a curtain that veils the sun’s glare,
Are the clouds that court and kiss the earth,
Just like love is like the dew to hearts that thirst.

 

Bulaklak ay Nalalaglag

 

Pansit ay napapanis,

Hopia ay inaamag,

Alahas ay kinakalawang,

Maganda ay nalolosyang,

Katanyaga’y nabibilasa,

Lakas ay humuhupa,

Awit ay napapaos,

Kuwento ay natatapos.

IMG_5468

Bulaklak ay nalalaglag,

Ngiti ay lumalayas,

Tangkay ay yumuyuko,

Damdamin ay natutuyo,

Araw ay lumulubog,

Hininga’y nauubos,

Panaho’y lumilipas,

Pag-ibig ma’y kumukupas.

img_2841

(*photo taken and edited with and iPhone)

 

Gintong Singsing

Ako’y isang magarang gintong singsing,

Mula sa Escoltang mamahalin,

At isang araw ako’y pinili,

Ng isang binatang masalapi.

 

Sa simbahan ako’y iminarcha,

Bitbit ng batang naka-Amerikana,

Inihatid sa harap ng dambana,

Isinuot kasabay ng pagsumpa.

 

Lumipas ang maraming mga araw,

Yaring pag-ibig hindi pala tunay,

Ako’y hinubad at kinalimutan,

Tambunting naging aking hantungan.

Tuyo Na’ng Damdamin

Habang ako’y bumibiyahe patungo sa aming outreach clinic noong isang araw, na isa’t kalahating oras ang layo sa aming siyudad, ako nama’y nagsa-soundtrip ng mga kantang Pilipino na aking kinagisnan (OPM Classics).

Habang tumatahak ako sa kalagitnaan ng mga bukid at parang, ang aking sasakyan ay tumatakbo ng siyento-bente kilometro kada ora, ngunit ang aking isipan ay lumilipad ng dos syentos kada ora.

Sumalang naman ang kantang “Tuyo Na’ng Damdamin” na orihinal na inawit ng APO Hiking Society. Ni-remake din ito ng Silent Sanctuary at ni Noel Cabangon.

“Minsan kahit na pilitin mong uminit ang damdamin
Di siya susunod, at di maglalambing
Minsan di mo na mapigil mapansin
Na talagang wala nang naiiwan na pagmamahal.”

Habang ako’y nagmumuni-muni sa lumang awit na ito, ay nakakalungkot lamang isipin, na maaring humantong pala sa ganito ang isang relasyon. Wala ng init. Wala ng paglalambing.

“At kahit na anong gawin
Di mo na mapilit at madaya
Aminin sa sarili mo
Na wala ka nang mabubuga.”

Wala nang maibubuga? Isa lamang masakit na katotohanan ng buhay. Lahat kaya ng bagay dito sa mundo ay may hangganan? Wala ba talagang forever?

“Parang isang kandila na nagdadala
Ng ilaw at liwanag
Nauubos rin sa magdamag.”

Upos na kandila? Hindi ko alam kung ano ang dahilan kung bakit isinulat ito ni Jim Paredes, o para kanino, o anong tunay niyang tinutukoy. Pero may alam akong makabagong paraan ngayon para makaangkop sa ganitong masaklap na kalagayan. Marahil wala pa nito noon nang isulat ang awiting ito.

“Di na madaig o mabalik ang dating matamis na kahapon
Pilitin ma’y tuyo na’ng damdamin.”

Kaibigan, huwag kang nang malungkot. Mayroon ng Viagra!

******

(My APOlogies to APO if I totally misunderstood and misinterpret the song.)

Kilig at Sayaw

Kay sarap gumising nang may kasama,

Hindi tulad noong ako’y nag-iisa,

Ngunit ‘di inakalang magkakaganito,

Mundo’y bumalikwas nang dahil sa ‘yo.

 

Umagang-umaga’y ‘di mapakali,

Ako’y kinikilig at nakikiliti,

Pilit pinipigil damdaming umaapaw,

Dahil nariyan ka’y napapasayaw.

 

Matagal ka pa ba, o aking mahal?

Mataimtim akong sa ‘yo’y naghihintay,

Sana ay pagbigyan, dahil ‘di ko na kaya,

Pakiusap lang naman, ako’y sasabog na!

 

Hoy! bilisan mo diyan sa banyo!

Ihing-ihi na ako!

(Ang tulang ito ay handog sa lahat ng napapasayaw sa makapigil-ihing pagmamahal.)

 

 

 

 

Invictus

You are a formidable foe. That we will admit. For five years we bask in the glory that we have defeated you. That we have eradicated you!

Or so we thought.

But you came back. Even with a vengeance. Now your are in a stance to take what was denied of you for the past five years. You are so ready to take your kill. You are again victorious.

But you are wrong!

You did not defeat us. We did not cower in your presence. We have fought a good fight. We looked at you in the eye and in spite of you always lurking in the shadows, we lived our lives to the fullest.

Our faith grew deeper. Our hope soared higher. Our ties grew stronger. We laughed. We loved. We lived!

And that you cannot take away from us.

So tell your friend, Death, that we are not afraid of him too. “O death where is thy sting, o grave, where is thy victory?”

The body may be broken, but not our spirits. As for you, Cancer, you never conquered us! slide.001 * Invictus is Latin for unconquered. It is also a poem by 19th century English poet William Ernest Henley. He wrote the poem while he laid in a hospital bed battling a life-threatening illness.

** Dedicated to my mother, on her last dance.