A Poor Man’s Amulet

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By: Kamille Pangantihon
Artwork by Paula Tongol

Vast land hectares and green sceneries with birds chirping and roosters crowing at four o’clock in the morning – this is the environment where a young man named Ten grew up in. He was raised by his grandparents who worked for a large farm in their town. Their way of life was simple yet awfully exhausting. Even if his family’s livelihood involved growing food, there is no assurance that they will also have a food for themselves.

Coming from a poverty-stricken community, his dream to have a wealthier life was so grand. He wanted to finish his education, become a pilot, and buy a farm land for his grandparents. However, his present situation confines him to take steps toward his goals. Since his grandfather died, he stopped attending school as he needed to work and help his grandmother in the farm. The only possession that his grandfather left him was an amulet – a gold pendant engraved with figures and phrases that are believed to cast out negative energies and other evil forces from their surroundings. This amulet has protected his grandfather’s life from multiple mishaps. It saved him from poisonous snake bites, thunders, and even from the love spells of the women who admired him during his younger years. The amulet of his grandfather is truly magical. He hopes that the magic would work for him as well.

Apparently, as he grew older and as he started working, he then experienced the hardships of life. The young man started to be frightened by the idea of dreaming. He asked himself, “Why does it feel like I am fooling myself whenever I try to dream?” He was stuck between envisioning a good life and accepting his reality. “Should I just embrace my fate as a rice field worker for the rest of my life?” All he wanted to do was to go back to school, but he can’t because of his priorities. He blamed everything around him, including his grandfather’s amulet… thinking that it gave him false security. He then realized that he didn’t really need it. He didn’t want to have protection against snakes and thunders. What he wanted was protection for his future… an amulet that would preserve his dreams and put food in his stomach – and he knew that only education could give him this power… a right that he and a lot of other people in his community had been deprived of.