Iglesia ni Cristo ‘pa more’ and ‘La Cubeta’

By Buddy Gomez

Posted at Nov 26 2015 08:56 AM | Updated as of Nov 26 2015 10:23 AM

Perish the malicious thought!

There is absolutely nothing common, much less any derogation intended, between the two subjects. I just happen to be perforcely confronted with the choice of topics to dwell upon for this weeks’s blog. And what else ought to come as most convenient but occurrences that are freshest in one’s mind. Happenings within a day of each other befalling me within the last seven days. One can be somewhat scary which I want, for now, to put to a close. The other, culturally humorous which I would like to share. Both are true.

Onion skin sensitivity can be hazardous!

The depth of sensitivity that was evoked and aroused by a public discussion of matters involving Iglesia ni Cristo is really easy to understand. When an entity has claims to supremacy and supposed iron-clad unity/unanimity, it is a self-awarded status in society that requires militant stewardship. Any related discussion, even if pursued as one’s exercise of freedom of conscience and of speech, that challenges its doctrines and practices is received, and easily misinterpreted, as an affront, a challenge and even a threat by its rabid followers. Now, that is a little more difficult to understand.

READ: Iglesia ni Cristo: From Colonial-Ecumenical to Supremacist

It has been a personal learning experience, though. I did not realize that by simply bringing up the subject, (after all the Iglesia was in the prominent forefront of the news), I was already waving a red flag before a ferocious pair of feral eyes! The anger and vehemence that I received in the privacy of my email somehow signals to me, at least, that there is some fragility within the organization that requires more than just ardent protection. An angry offensive as the best defense is almost automatically summoned. On the other hand, there were a few responders who were polite, shepherding me to read relevant materials about INC via the Internet and even inviting me to attend services in the nearest INC chapel. Such confidence and civility I sincerely appreciate.

When a dominant, domineering religion, sect or cult participates vigorously in the public exercise of partisan politics, most especially when they partake of the spoils and enjoy these flauntingly, there is absolutely no way of avoiding being mentioned and being talked about in the democratic market place. Beyond religious doctrine and rituals which are reasonably beyond the pale of the public’s business, the Iglesia adherents must accept the scrutiny of their public behavior as the wages of their success as an organization.
Before I switch to other topics, I invite those who have the time and the inclination to ‘google’ and view: “scenic South Dakota for sale.” Aside from a picture gallery of the real estate and the remaining structures famously purchased with INC community funds, there is also an archived news item: “Why did a Secretive Filipino Church Buy a South Dakota Ghost Town.” Fascinating!

The ‘Toilette Zone’ the Tagalogs call Kubeta

Last Friday, I did some shopping at La Michoacana, a Mexican grocery on Blanco St. on the north central side of San Antonio, Texas. There is where I go for special meats and meat cuts (goat meat, ox tail, tripe and cheeks, ‘bagnet’). I also get to practice my Spanish. What caught my fancy was a white cheese product on the refrigerated shelf, looking bulkier than our ‘kesong puti.’ Its brand was “La Cubeta!” What da hell!!! Why and how on earth would Mexicans brand a cheese product after the toilet!

My English-Pilipino ‘dicki’ (by Consuelo T. Panganiban – National Book Store) says toilet is palikuran (I do not know of anyone who even ever used the term……”CR” is most common term these days. That is for ‘comfort room’ as opposed to “WC” in British occupied territories. For “Water Closet,” dummy!); kubeta (there you are!); and kasilyas (that’s what we call the throne room in Waray-land.) Toilet!

Webster’s Spanish-English dictionary, on the other hand, says that “cubeta “ means cask or keg. A necessity for the storage of wine. That is in castellano1 as spoken in Spain. The Spanish colonies had their own meanings and uses for many of the same word. The same ‘dickie’ says that in Mexico, “cubeta” means “bucket” or “pail” which in Pilipino is ‘timba.’

Ah ha! So that is the provenance, the etymology, if you please. And what am I getting at?

Let us flash back to olden days. From Legazpi’s time (1560s) until the end of the Galleon Trade (1810s) when Mexico achieved independence from Madre Espana, the predominant many of the crew as well as the foot soldiers and officers of the Conquista, even the curas and predicadores, who came to our shores were from Mexico. It thus stands to reason that a considerable amount of influences derived from Mexico would have its impact on Philippine life. They linger to these days.

It does appear, an elementary deduction, that beyond cacao, chico, avocado, corn, jicama (singcamas), tomatoes, etcetera Mexico did introduce our revered ancestors to an improved way to do their ‘number two’ and ‘number one’ which daily human rituals, I imagine, were simply performed anywhere it may have been pleasing when the call comes, until Legazpi came. (As a matter of fact, in many parts of our archipelagic hinterlands, sanitation or the lack of it has not really changed since pre-Hispanic times !) Mexico introduced the bucket, the pail and they called it “la cubeta.” And now, you know the rest of the story!

Culture can indeed be funny. But I would rather remember and honor Mexico with churros, tamales and chocola-te, eh!

PS. In San Diego, I met a hotel front desk clerk whose name was Cecilia Casillas! (another Filipino name for Cubeta, but in Spanish it means booth or an outhouse!) And in Nigeria, there is a business executive who goes by the name of Orinola Gbadebo-Smith. (For Filipinos, that means chamber pot!)


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(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog/opinion piece are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of of ABS-CBN.)

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.