BEFORE the national highway going to Cagayan via Buda was cemented, passengers are left with no choice but to endure an almost seven-hour bumpy and super-dusty ride in cramped jeepneys from Ulas. The jeep would usually be practically over-flowing with passengers, boxes and all forms of baggage that from afar, one can barely see the jeep.
Upon reaching the boundary of Davao and Bukidnon, passengers are expected to get off for quarantine purposes. The authorities manning the check-point would also check the jeep for the presence of livestock and other animals and confiscate those which have no permit.
My high-school classmate and dorm-mate Lani from Digos with some friends were passengers of the first trip jeepney one day from Davao to a far-flung school in Bukidnon where we were studying.
With the excess baggage everyone seemed to be carrying, they didn't even have space to stretch their legs inside the jeep.
They were, however, fortunate to have for a fellow-passenger a very pleasant man in his late sixties who introduced himself as Minoy. He was going to Maramag, Bukidnon to visit his daughter.
The uncomfortable trip was made bearable by Minoy's endless string of jokes and witty remarks that everyone had a grand time laughing.
When they were nearing the check-point in Buda, Minoy stopped telling jokes and turned sober. Lani asked him what the problem was and learned that he was carrying a live rooster as a gift for his daughter in Maramag, and as he had no permit, he was afraid the soldiers would confiscate it.
Everyone pitied Minoy and thought of ways to help him. A brilliant idea suddenly flashed in Lani's mind. She told Minoy not to worry anymore because she will solve his problems for him. She then unloaded the contents of her big bag. Out came two loaves of bread, a jar of home-made peanut butter, a tupperware-full of cooked rice, fried chicken, fried fish (we were in a vegetarian school) and assorted foods which Lani planned to give as pasalubong to her roommates at the dorm.
Taking the rooster from Minoy, Lani tied its beak with a piece of cloth and wrapped the chicken in a plastic bag. Wanting to make sure the rooster won't make a sound during the inspection and betray its existence, Lani put the rooster into yet another cellophane and then put it at the bottom of her bag. She then loaded the original contents back into the bag on top of the rooster and zipped the bag.
Everyone held their breaths when the authorities checked the jeep, all anxious and wanting Minoy to have his rooster reach its destination.
After a few minutes, the inspection was finished without hitches and the jeep continued on its dusty journey. Half a kilometer from the check-point, Lani opened her bag to take the rooster out. She was mentally patting her self for thinking of such a brilliant idea in time to solve a jolly old man's trouble.
Lani took out the cellophane from the bag, untied the rooster's beak and ceremoniously handed it to Minoy. Everybody cheered but to their horror, the rooster's head slumped forward. There was no need for a veterinarian to pronounce the rooster dead.
Lani was shocked and speechless. In her anxiety to save the rooster for Minoy's daughter, she had tied the beak a little too tightly, cutting off the circulation of air to enable it to breath. She also unconciously tied the cellophanes tightly.
Blushing to the roots of her hair, Lani offered to pay Minoy the cost of the rooster so that he could buy another one in its place. The rest of the passengers also offered to chip in money in addition but Minoy brushed their offers aside, saying that he was sure her daughter would not mind having a rooster for dinner.
Back in school, tales of Lani's 'heroic' act spread like wildfire. Lani became famous overnight and was baptized as a 'flopped Samaritan'. After several years, even now that Lani's already in Canada, the name still stuck.*