Devex’s photo of the week! This made my Friday :)

One of my former workmates, Yula, contacted me a few days  ago and asked if they could feature in the Global Development Briefing, a photo I took from Kalinga (northern part of the Philippines) as Devex’s photo of the week.  And, although I am kind of shy sharing my works with people, I said yes.  It is, after all, an opportunity to share what I got from my visit to the indigenous peoples communities in the Philippines in December 2012.

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An acknowledgment of your generosity

I have written several blog posts on our last visit to indigenous peoples communities in Kalinga (Tinglayan and Buscalan), Mountain Province (Sabangan and Guina-ang), South Cotabato (Lake Sebu), Bohol (Duero), capping it with a swim on the rocky beach of Samar (Marabut) and buying banigs in the province (Basey).  When I first shared this with my friends, they were all wondering where I would get the money to finance this trip, given that I am officially unemployed.  And, have been since June 2012.

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Visiting indigenous peoples communities – how we did it

Tara and I spent some time doing research to really be clear on what we want to accomplish and get for the entire trip.  Tara, being a professional photographer, and me, being a person who loves taking pictures, based our initial list on the images that came up in Google.  We did a search for “indigenous peoples” + Philippines and if a particular picture would catch our interest, we would look it up further.

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Project Breaking Down Barriers: Meeting the Eskaya tribe in Duero, Bohol

Tara and I were thinking of skipping Bohol altogether, because of the seeming inexistence of any indigenous peoples community in the province.  Although we would want to visit Panglao beach and enjoy it for at least a day, doing just that in Bohol didn’t quite justify the trip to the province for us.  But, to be sure, Tara and I did a search on Google Images for “indigenous peoples” + “Bohol” and that’s when we saw the Eskaya scripts.  We looked at the pictures for a while and, almost at the same time, said “We gotta go here, man.”  And, so we did.

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Project Breaking Down Barriers: Getting to Bohol

Then, the Amazing Race again began.  We took a van back to Surallah.  And, got in a van to General Santos.  It was so hot inside and it seemed like it would still take a while before it’d be filled, so Tara and I decided to take a trike to Yellow Bus Lines station and take the bus instead.

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Project Breaking Down Barriers: Thank you, Lake Sebu

Tara and I woke up early on our last day in Lake Sebu.  She recorded the sound of the morning. I spent a few more minutes in bed and chose to experience the moment, fully.

Manang Oyog cooked breakfast for us. The teenage boys served the food. They were told to explain what the ingredients for each meal were so Tara and I would know. I coaxed them into speaking in English so Tara would get it. And, how they were being while at it was hilarious! Dondon said, “Ate… Ikaw na lang.” I said, “Kayang-kaya n’yo ‘yan!” Both Jayjay and Dondon were still trying to figure out how to say it to Tara when Tonton went up and said, “This is rice. Or, kanin in Tagalog. This is good with the ulam (pointing at our viands). So, this is rice!” It was a while before all of us stopped laughing.

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Project Breaking Down Barriers: A letter to our host family in Lake Sebu

December 10, 2012

Hello everyone,

I’m writing this while most, if not all, of you are already sleeping. I just really need to say this now.

Thank you for your hospitality and generosity. You’ve shared yourselves with me and Tara – your stories, time, smiles, hearts, music, art. It’s always so refreshing for me to meet people who are open and simple – living in the metro surrounds one with people who are afraid of judgment, so rigid, with no sense of community and family and tradition. Life is simple here and I love it.

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