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  • There is a clan group on facebook to which I know I belong because of a central story that they tell about how the family line was saved from decimation by a flock of field larks.

    Now many of these clan group members didn’t know each other before they met on facebook. Like me, they were looking for people with the same last name (my paternal grandmother’s name), and they stumbled upon this group and they read the story, or a variation thereof, from other members of the group. And they go, “Yes! My grandma/father/cousin, etc. told me that story, too, before!”

    My father told me this as a little girl. But, like the stories of fantastic creatures and remarkable war survival tales with which he kept me glued to his side on those rare moments he was home, I always thought it was a figment of his imagination. It goes like this:

    It was the reign of the Spaniards. My ancestors, being rebels, were fleeing from the Spanish soldiers on foot, who were closing in on them. My ancestors reached a field of cogon grass (a species of tall grass used for building grass huts) surrounded by cliffs, a dead-end. They could either climb the cliff sides, from which they would be seen and shot by the soldiers, or they could hide among the tall grass.

    They decided to take their chance among the grass, thinking if this is the end of their days, then so be it. A flock of larks was on the same field. And the story goes: even as my ancestors lay down on the earth, the birds did not stir, did not take flight in fright. Instead they stayed their positions, as if to hide my people.

    As the soldiers came close to the field, they saw the flock of birds and thought: they can’t be here, the birds are undisturbed! They then quickly continued their pursuit in a different direction.

    My father did not have a lot of rules, except for us to be kind to our neighbors and always keep an open mind to ideas. But one of the strict rules that he had for my five brothers (who, like the other neighborhood boys, fashioned their own slingshots) was this: “Never, ever, kill a flight bird, not for sport nor for sustenance —nor cage it—because without its kind, you wouldn’t be.”
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