Today is a Good Time to Return the Favor

Rhaine: Ang layo na ng narating ng mga lapis mo Cher Kat!
Me: Sana mas malayo pa ang marating ng mga taong may gamit ng mga lapis na yun.

I didn’t realize until yesterday that I had set this meet up on my birthday. We haven’t seen each other for 2 years now and that I really don't know when we will be seeing each other again after this, the meeting went on. I know I owe him dinner and coffee. His family sort of adopted me when I accomplished a Flight project bound for CDO. Lala, a fellow blogger introduced me to his family who welcomed me in their humble abode for the weekend. He then introduced me to the boys of the CDO Boys Town.

Today is a good time to return the favor.

I was mainly the one asking a lot of questions about what he does right now. First he gave me updates about the recent outreach they had done to a Lumad community situated in the remotest corners of Bukidnon, how volunteer teachers had started to settle in the community to teach them survival numeracy and literacy. I believed him when he said “remotest”. I saw the pictures he tagged me onto on Facebook. About the stiff ascents, the wall-kissing deadly walks and vine grabs they had to endure just to reach the very secluded yet almost dying tribe. He said that it was a 10-hour adventure, 2 hours of which had lasted for the wall-kissing activity, walking onto a very narrow path so they can go to the other side of the mountain. He said it was almost 18 mountains trekked in total. A normal activity for Lumads.

I had a very crazy day in school. My partner teacher was absent and the new teacher was still trying to adjust to our very crazy environment and hearing his stories over roast beef made it all a crazier day.

I told him I cannot do what he does right now, maybe had I dreamed of doing it when I was a little younger, I wouldn't have second thoughts, but now, the least I can do send all my support. I also told him to write about what he does, what he realized and what we can do from our end. I asked if they also get debriefs after every immersion. He said, "No. Sanayan na lang din. Ngayon ko lang din na-share tong mga to kasi nagtanong ka." 

These communities don't deserve pity nor they deserve to be uprooted from where they are currently situated. They got there first before those capitalists discovered that those lands are lucrative. These indigenous people deserve to be recognized and be respected as a metropolitan, educated Filipino would have been. We can learn a lot from them. Their use of indigenous products, organic farming cultural beliefs and rituals. They deserve to live with utmost dignity just like those people living on the plains.

His facebook page is filled with pictures of pristine nature scenes, hidden waterfalls, secluded beaches. Mostly the perks of his job. Then I urged him to write about what he does. I can only imagine that would be an additional task for him knowing that he has a lot of things on his plate. Documentations and tons of pictures to select from, all of which bears a story.

Me: Please pray for me para mas marami pa akong maitulong sayo para sa kanila.
Rhaine: Mamili ka, gano karami bang prayer warriors ang kelangan mo? There’s the rehab, the prison, the orphanage and the indigenous people.
Me: Pwede bang silang lahat? Hehe. Given a chance to visit the Lumads, you know I would.

We parted ways around quarter to 9pm. Yes, I still have curfew at 30. Beat that.

My takeaways from this rendezvous? It takes a lot of courage to take that step of choosing what would really make your life meaningful. We find meaning in our lives when we touch the lives of others. I knew that from his face, beaming with pride and satisfaction about what he does right now. Teaching is the best job in the world. A small donation can go a long way, miles away, even up in the mountains.

Rhaine: Ang layo na ng narating ng mga lapis mo Cher Kat!
Me: Sana mas malayo pa ang marating ng mga taong may gamit ng mga lapis na yun.


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