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Open the basket

I brought a basket like this home from Central Kalimantan. The Ngaju Dayak use it as a work basket. They leave for the fields in the morning, with the luntung on their backs, containing bolos, fishing lines, lunch. They come home just as dusk begins to fall with the basket overflowing with vegetables or fish. When I went to place an order for a basket with the woman who made them in the village I stayed in, she looked me up and down and asked, "For you?" She made it in a week, and it fits me and me alone, perfectly.

I use my luntung to go to market every week. I can stuff it with a kilo of chicken, a kilo of pork, a kilo of mangoes, a kilo of strawberries, one-fourth kilo of shitake mushrooms, a kilo of tomatoes, several bunches of lettuce and other greens, and three bundles of rosal. Plus maybe a bag of red chillies thrown on top.

The manangs admire my Dayak version of the Igorot kayabang. They like that it's different. They ask me where I got it from. I tell them to have it copied. Its one flaw, they say, is that it doesn't have a cover.

'You'll get your food stolen,' they warn me again and again, as I ask them to please put the things I buy from them into my basket, or as they help me hoist it up unto my back. They've been predicting this since last year, and so far, I haven't lost anything, and I haven't caught any one trying to steal from my open basket.

This means, in Baguio, no one is so desperate as to steal food... yet. At least that's what I'd like to believe.


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