One thing I noticed among the Igorot of Natonin, Mountain Province is their love of chewing “moma.” Unlike the Ilocano “nga-nga” which is usually made from tobacco, moma came from a small fruit of a palm-like tree that grows abundantly in the place. It produces red figment as they chew it inside their mouth and one would easily imagine how it looks like when it stains their teeth. In an instant, you’ll think that you’ve finally come face-to-face with a vampire.
“What’s the benefit of chewing moma?” I asked a thirty-something guy one day in the sari-sari store.
“Well,” he said, “it’s an effective alternative to cigarette.”
The guy showed me a piece of moma, and tossed it into his mouth like that in Mentos commercials. His eyes were beaming.
“I suppose this is better than a daily dose of nicotine,” he added. “After all, it’s good to my teeth,”
To this my eyes widened. “Excuse me?”
He explained that moma provides nutrients that help the teeth grow stronger. I agree that it effectively diverts people from cigarette smoking but I didn’t share the same confidence about its dental benefit. I find it difficult to believe a man whose teeth is like the seating arrangement found in classrooms during exams: one tooth apart.
I have nothing against with moma or the man. But it is really confusing when what you heard does not coincide with what you see. Although words may give testimony about something or someone, it is what that manifests—whether in action or effect—that would eventually testify to its truth. Would you believe to an obese dietician? Or accept hygienic suggestions from a man whose armpit smells like hell?
That’s why the Lord urged the people to look at what they see more than human testimonies. While acknowledging that John’s testimony about him is true, the Lord still wants the people to look instead to what that manifests in his works because they testify more on his behalf (Jn 5:36). The Lord thus challenges us today that although people may say good things about us, it is always what that flows from our person that gives better testimony about our goodness. In end, we realize that what we show to people either confirms or corrects what they say about us. Truly, perfection rests in actuality.