The Wheel As Invented by My Ancestors

Photograph by Jose Padua
Not many people know the real story but
the wheel was invented by my ancestors
back on the islands so you could sit
at one spot during a feast, and have a go
at all the entrees without having to move
around the table with your plate, or keep
changing seats and feel like a loser.
It was invented by a fat man named Phil
who lived in early Neolithic times, and
who recognized that a device like this
would make him a big hit with women.
He was right. And besides, being able
to bring, with a simple spin the grilled
lechon, adobo, lumpia, Chicken Afritada,
and Bibingka to where he and his date sat
made it that much harder for his date to say,
“I’m going to get some Sotanghon,”
then walk to a chafing-dish on the other side
of the room and start talking to another man
who she’ll end up thinking is funnier,
more clever, more handsome, and never
return to the table to sit with big dull Phil.
So the wheel was born, spinning on its
side at feasts, and Phil went on to father
nearly three hundred children of various
shapes and sizes. He knew the names
of them all, though not all of them knew
his name. Just that he was the man
who invented the wheel, this windward looking
man with the many wives, some of whom
had many husbands, in faraway lands,
but by then Phil didn’t mind because
the parties were so damn good. And
although the women and the wives
hadn’t invented the wheel, they studied it,
tested it, inspected it, and lifted it to
a formidable standing position so that
like a gulp of palm wine it could take
you places. And through all the years,
past the age of doubt on through to the
dawning and falling epochs of industry,
they began to make their presence known.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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