Bensi

Aimee Morales

(Philippines)

After hours of circling endless rice paddies and mountains, we alighted from the bus that had taken us to Pangasinan and took a tricycle to the home of Bensi, the man we’d come to see. He greeted us with glasses of cold lemongrass tea and a dish of sweetbread. We came to interview him for a story I was writing for the paper. Bensi is an agriculturist, marine biologist, inventor, shaman, and academic. One of the many things that makes him special is that he is difficult to locate or contact, which makes any encounter a momentous affair.

In and around his home, he showed me and my companion many unbelievable things. There was a tree that bore the face of an old man, a healing patch he invented that could make any illness go away, relics, clippings, pictures, and a rare book — black with gilt letters on the cover — that held secrets I was not permitted to write about. 

We laughed together like old friends. He allowed us to take pictures of some of the things he showed us, like the trees he cultivated that bore so much fruit. He brought us to a small dense forest behind his property where fairies have shown themselves to him, mostly in the evenings. There was a clearing he was turning into a shrine.

When my story came out, I tried to get in touch with Bensi. I sent him a few emails in the months and years that followed, but being Bensi, he did not reply. I decided to look for the photos we took, but they had vanished, although it was probably because I lacked organizing skills. Now all I have are my words and memories from a place of extraordinary things, invisible secrets in the spaces between the story.

Aimee Morales

is a

Contributor for Panorama.

Aimee Morales is a freelance writer, editor, and writers’ rights advocate. She was an MA student for English Poetry at the University of the Philippines. Her first book, “Why Mandaya Teens Have Sharp Black Teeth” came out under Balangay Books in 2015. Five years later, Aimee self-published her second book, “Alignment: Lessons on Writing”. Aimee is a single mother, qigong and eskrima practitioner, and creator of the #santoshaproject – a personal effort to encourage more people to incorporate the Santosha gratitude practice into their daily lives.

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