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.
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.
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.
December 10, 2012
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.
My stay in Lake Sebu was a celebration of community, talent, and art. I had gotten to know our host family, have conversations with them, and get their openness and love for life, family, and community. I also had the privilege of witnessing the talents of the T’boli kids and of meeting and learning from T’boli dream weavers. It’s an honor to spend a part of my life with the wonderful people of Lake Sebu. And, for our last full day, Tara and I chose to be with the family and enjoy each other’s company as the end of our stay with the community was drawing near.
The previous day, we paid for unlimited broadband access and we didn’t want to put it to waste. So, we told the kids that they could use the internet because we’re done with it anyway. While eating breakfast, we met Tonton, the singer of the group. Dondon and him transferred the computer because they didn’t want to bother us eating breakfast. They kept on asking, “Ate, ok lang ba talaga?” I would say, “Ok lang. Ano ba?” They said, “Baka makaistorbo sa pagkain n’yo.” I think Tara got that they were being so awkwardly shy about using the internet while we were eating that she said, “I’m not a princess!” Haha! That’s when they finally went to it.
The following day, Tara and I woke up at around 6:30 AM. Everyone was already up and about by this time. I even heard someone cutting wood. So, after breakfast, I went down to see who it was. Then, I formally met Dondon and Jayjay. Jayjay is a son of Manang Oyog and Dondon is related to them in some way. Dondon is in college, taking up education. Jayjay stopped schooling but will return this coming school year and take up electronics. They are both 19 years old.