Another one of Russell’s projects is Guina-ang Village School 1Book Blessing. Because we believe in acts of kindness, we brought books donated by a friend (Thanks Glads!) for the kids of the village.
We were going to skip personally delivering the books to the village because we were cramped with time. Just to give you a glimpse of it: It was already the 5th of December. We were still in Sabangan. We had to be in Manila by 3 AM on the 7th of December because we needed to catch our flight to General Santos at 5 AM. The trip from Bontoc to Manila takes about 12 hours. So, at the latest, we had to leave Bontoc by 3 PM on December 6. It takes a couple of hours to go down from Guina-ang to Bontoc. So, that meant that we had to leave Guina-ang by 1 PM on December 6, at the latest. But, no one was sure about what time the last trip from Guina-ang to Bontoc was. Uhm. And, granted that there was, that would mean that if we get the 1 PM trip to the village from Bontoc, we would have less than 12 hours of stay in Guina-ang. The question Tara and I asked ourselves was, “Are we up for it?”
The thing is, I went on this trip because I wanted to get to know our indigenous peoples communities. I wanted to write about them. I wanted to take pictures of them. I wanted to experience being with them. And, just to be able to see who these kids are who we brought books for, even if it meant that we would be doing our own version of the Amazing Race, would be all worth it.
So we went for it. We took the last trip from Bontoc to Guina-ang and by the time we got to the village, it was already dark. There were questions about where we were going to sleep but Dominika, our couchsurfer host confirmed that everything’s already settled and that we could spend the night at the house of the family she’s staying with.
We did quite a walk going to Dominika’s place. It was a bit scary for me more because it was dark and it just rained, so the steps were kind of slippery. We also didn’t bring flashlights with us but good thing Dominika came ready and prepared! While we were walking, I was really present to how blessed I am that I was doing it with these compassionate travelers.
After about thirty minutes of walking, we finally got to Lola Tayno’s house. There, we met Frederick, Lola Tayno’s grandson, and two other couchsurfers: Poitr from Poland and David from Canada. We had dinner and an awesome conversation after. It was refreshing hearing their stories about their travels within the Philippines and in other countries, how they do it, and their advocacies. It got me to see how big the world still is out there and inspired me to pursue what I have already started.
The following morning, we found out that the last jeepney to Bontoc leaves at 11 AM. So, we took our bags and headed to the school. Russell offered to switch bags with me so that I’d have an easier time doing the hike. I thought that that was really nice of him so I accepted the offer. I also knew that if I didn’t, the chances of missing our ride to Bontoc would be greater because, err, I’m slow.
In the school, we got to meet the grade 5 and 6 students. The grade 6 students were learning about climates so Tara was asked to talk about Canada’s. While she was doing that, I went out and explored, hoping to take pictures of the beautiful mountains.
What I got was better than that. When the kindergarteners saw me and my camera, they went ahead and posed in front of me, laughing and looked like playing the “I want to be in the picture!” game. Precious!
We ran our way to the jeepney, the driver of which was then itching to leave without us, because we were already late by about 15 minutes. When we got there, I went right inside. Then, Piotr said, “We’re going to be on the roof. You?” I was like, “I think I’m done with the riding-on-the-roof-of-the-jeepney experience…” Then, he asked, “Are you sure?” Okay, let’s do this! Haha! So I rode on top with Dominika, Piotr, and Tara. It was super awesome! In the middle of the ride, Dominika was banging the jeepney to get the driver’s attention because she wanted to go inside. She was gonna get bruises because of the super rough road! But, Tara and I stayed on top and enjoyed the awesome view and the experience of having aching butts. Yes, I am now a traveler like that. :P
- Visiting indigenous peoples communities in the Philippines – The start of it all
- Project Breaking Down Barriers: Sorta Creepy Bontoc Experience
- Project Breaking Down Barriers: How to get to Sabangan, Mountain Province
- Project Breaking Down Barriers: Couchsurfing in Sabangan, Mountain Province
- Project Breaking Down Barriers: How to get to Guina-ang, Mountain Province
- Visiting indigenous peoples communities – how we did it
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Thank you! And, in whatever space you’re in now, I hope that you get something from reading my articles.