The Tektites of Bikol
The first time I heard of the word “tektike” was from Fr. James O’Brien, SJ, the Jesuit sociologist and English teacher in Ateneo de Naga. For some reasons, it had always been a habit of Fr. O’B, as he was fondly known and called by his students and admirers, to mention events and objects that made the region special. I think his purpose then was for his students to find something that they can be proud of with regard to their place.
In the late 60s and well into the 70s, the Bikol region was one of the least studied areas in the country. Less exotic perhaps than Mindanao and the Cordillera, if we are to mention two stereotypes of viable field sites, Bikol region was lost in the might of its two neighboring Quezon and Laguna, the south Luzon.
This could be a memory, or a fault in the same, but one of the many things that stuck in my mind was the idea that tektites came from the moon. Cursory research, however, points to more grounded (pardon the pun) definitions of the said object. Tektites according to an online Geography definition are molten objects formed because of meteorite impact. The idea being that as meteorites fall and hit the earth, the said objects form an object with other rocks or stones or soil they hit. The end-products, if you wish to call them in the popular sense, are black, glossy and, in areas, translucent. They are not considered by many as precious stones but they present themselves as astounding, “eye-catching.”
H. Otley Beyer has written a paper titled “The Super-Sized Tektites of the Bikol Peninsula.” He writes: “As long ago as April 1934, I was called to the existence of tektites of extraordinary size in parts of the Bikol peninsula.”
Beyer wrote in July 1934 about receiving a sizable fragment from the late Capt. Thomas Leonard from Paracale. Beyer would also write of a small collection of 34 tektites.
Now, who was Capt. Thomas Leonard? A note in the 1936 Journal of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines mentions him as one of the oldest mining prospectors in the area.
From the said collection, Beyer mentioned 3 giant specimens of over 400 gms in weight.
It appears that tektite was being assessed by the American colonizers at that time. Details abound where these tektites could be found. One information pointed to the mouth of the Labo River and one also indicated the presence of Tektites in a place called Batobalani, which is a local word for “magnet.” These sets of information were all coming from Capt Leonard.
Beyer mentioned that there was a plan for Leonard to bring more specimens to Manila but he would die in 1937 and someone must have carted away those tektites. Who took them? Where were they? Where are they?
But for the Bikolanos they seemed to have a different affinity with these stones. Beyer wrote how the Bikolanos then believed that when one found tektites, there gold nuggets would also appear. There was even an individual who, each time he brought home some gold sand, he would put them beside the tektite hoping that the next day, the two would have fused, creating a bigger gold bar.
Beyer also noted how old inhabitants kept small tektites and they put them above the “fireplace,” meaning the makeshift stove in the kitchen.
For the people of Paracale, they called tektites “tae ng bituin” or “dung of the stars.” There was also the belief that the good tektites were found on the mountains, where they lead to ancient gold deposits.
Interestingly enough, on the website of the group called Crystal Council, tektites are equated with energy. The site has this to say: “Tektites resonate at a very high frequency, enabling one to elevate their consciousness to new dimensional heights.” It continues: One’s internal energy will immediately begin to raise (sic) upon touch, with your mind becoming a receptor of incoming knowledge from above. This information is being siphoned through our realm by dream work, deja vu experiences, daily synchronicities, and heightened cognitive & psychic abilities.”
I like in particular this information: “ The source of this knowledge is the angels above, our spirit guides, and our celestial protectors. These beings have been with us since birth, with others intersecting our life path along the way. Their purpose is to help grow and direct your soul in the right direction, allowing you to explore the most heightened version of yourself.”
How do we do all of the above? Through meditation.
Even up to now, there are cultures that use tektites for amulets or charm; after all, life and all its appearances are really manifestations of energies, and how we harness them.