Whatever happened to Kapuntukan?

by Dan Pinto on Thursday, September 9, 2010

That’s right. Whatever the hell happened to Kapuntukan (or, if you prefer the old Hispanized spelling, Capuntucan)? I might be betraying my age, as being too old to be considered as “out of the loop,” but it beats the hell out of me and sends my Bikol blood a-boiling whenever I hear or read that Kapuntukan Hill is now being called by tourist-oriented Bikolanos as The Sleeping Lion.

I don’t know when this nomenclature first gained currency. Perhaps I’ve been away too long from the land of my birth. But what the f*ck is wrong with the perfectly descriptive, native and robust name such as Kapuntukan? It’s been called by that name since the time of my grandmother (and her grandmother before that) and, as a child who used to listen to his mother about the story of the lazy giant, Kulakog, I certainly knew the hill by its age-old name. K-A-P-U-N-T-U-K-A-N. Meaning, the highest point. Which must have been an accurate description when it was first coined in the pre-Spanish times, when the area at the base of the hill was a wave-kissed settlement known as Sawangan, not Legazpi. The hill was the highest point in Sawangan.

Oh, well. I suppose I cannot fight the wave of change that is now engulfing the City. The last time I was there, I could no longer find the old albeit few watering places of my misspent and profligate youth.

If they insist on calling Kapuntukan as the Sleeping Lion, 

it might be a good idea to carve  the face of the hill like this.


No more Agua Caliente, where Nilo Banton, George Baccay, Boroy Arroyo, Tony Quintano, Quirino de la Rosa, Mario Limpo, Luis Batalla and me used to feel like princes after a round of beer and a string of ten-centavo dance tickets festooned on our necks. Where, for P4.00 per hour, each one of us could get inside the dark cantina of the Agua, slip into a cubicle tightly designed for two, and be assured by the bailarina of our choice that we were the greatest young lovers in the whole of Albay—as long as there was money in our pockets. It was a rite of passage for every young man with raging hormones, and anyone at that time who has not gone through the hot waters of Agua Caliente does not deserve to be called a Legazpiño.

No more Penthouse Club, where we twisted, gyrated, frugged and watusied to rock ‘n’ roll music in dance steps that were not invented yet. The resident band—The Brown Men—were the best there ever was; and the the owner, Pepito de la Riva, obligingly turned a blind eye when we surreptitiously filled our empty beer bottles with Tanduay because we did not have enough money for additional orders of beer that would last us through the night. And the ladies of the club—bless them!—they were the best, especially when there were no big spenders and Big Daddies around. In order that the night and the music be unwasted, these ladies took us to their fair, soft bosoms and we would be transported to a blissful state where, the following day, no quadratic equations were waiting to be solved, no expositions on the necessity of atheism were waiting to be written for submission to stern and unforgiving Fr. San Juan at Aquinas.

Even Lady Anne has moved—to some area far enough, leaving the adventurous, young, horny studs of the city with the choice of either going to bed early or repairing to that Manila-inspired “gimmick place” called Embarcadero.

Embarcadero. When I asked around how to get there by tricycle, I was told: “Sabihon no sana sa drayber, duman sa may Sleeping Lion.” Hijo de gran putilla! as my grandmother used to say. What or where the f*ck is the Sleeping Lion?

Why not Buktot na Ikos—Hunchbacked Cat—there being no lions in the Philippines, or in Legazpi for that matter?

(Note: The article and the picture are courtesy of Dan Pinto. These can be accessed here.)

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