The parable of a trip to Ba-ang-A A +A
Monday, March 11, 2013
“NO ONE’s there”, I thought immediately. I found the best seat. As the bus started climbing the zigzag roads, I brought out my headphone and listened to Sleeping with Sirens. The heart-pumping tunes kept my senses awake, and then I found myself smiling. The mission was accomplished. I tapped my shoulder.
It was two nights ago when I traveled from Baguio City to Hungduan town in Ifugao with a huge load of books, school supplies, clothes and some coin banks. Together with some friends from Manila who were traveling, too, that night, I was to deliver simple presents to the schoolchildren of Ba-ang. It was only my third time to go there but I felt at home. It’s a shame that in spite of being born and raised in Ifugao, it was only during the 2010 TOSP-CAR Formation Program that I stepped my feet on the grounds of this magnificent town at the foot of the carved towering mountains of my province. It’s a shame, indeed, but since then, I have done my best to give back to the community.
It was early in the morning when I reached Banaue. After more than eight hours of sleeping and waking up and sleeping again, I found myself breathing cool fresh air and waking up with an unusual yet mesmerizing sight – the rice terraces. After an hour or two, my friends from Manila arrived carrying with them their loads twice as much as mine. Shortly after, Manang Regina, our contact and host, arrived with a big red jeepney, which would bring us to the hidden town. The adventure had just started! Two of my Manilan friends dared to take the top load. The road was narrow, bumpy and dusty but I could say, with their shouting and laughter, they enjoyed the ride and the view of not the towering buildings in Makita but of the gigantic lush mountains. They never expected that the fun they had as we went to Ba-ang would never equal the fun awaiting us. After an hour, we reached our destination where we found some village folks waiting for our arrival to help us carry our things. And so, the hiking along the slender and famed centuries-old Hungduan rice terraces claimed our remaining energy. Little did we know that we would be recharged as we approached the humble school at the heart of the terraced mountain.
The kids had been waiting excitedly for hours for us. Many of them were from the nearby (yet too far) barangays. We sensed that they were hungry so we went to the nearest sari-sari store and brought some biscuits. After our lunch, we proceeded immediately to accomplishing our mission. We could hear the relaxing sound of the cold river flowing just below the school. It was very audible but it faded away when we started telling stories to the children. We saw the amazement from their innocent faces and heard their loud laughter. Furthermore, amid the magnificence of their surroundings, the little children drew equally splendid figures. We witnessed how they worked very hard to finish the task; some were sweating while others are in so much concentration that they didn’t notice their saliva hanging for its life from their small lips. There was so much innocence. So much positivism. So much hope. After three hours of story-telling, interacting, playing, laughing and teaching the little children, we were soaked in our own sweat and achievement. It felt cool; it felt good.
At the end of the day, we gave each child a book, clothes, a set of school supplies and coin banks. We believed, we handed them hope and inspiration, too. The day was over when we bade goodbye to the children and their parents who wore sincere smiles and gratitude. We all knew that they would still be walking a long way back home. For the little children of Ba-ang, we were aware that their long and tedious journey has just started.
We left Hungduan the following morning. We thought we would be traveling light and burdensome for the loads we carried from our homes were given away, but we were mistaken. We carried with us tons of happiness, fulfillment and inspiration.
I smiled again with my black backpack that’s almost empty now, but with a heart full of motivation and oomph. I know my friends from Manila traveled heavily back home, too. Then the screaming song played: “I think, ‘let’s not wait, let’s love right now’” (Let Love Bleed Red) and I thought, “Let’s not wait; let’s love, lead, learn and serve right now.”
This article was written by Ephraim Domingo who prefers to be introduced as “a son of Ifugao who is eager to serve his people as an educator; loves coffee and traveling, but wants to share them with somebody soon.” He was one of the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines-CAR in 2010.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 12, 2013.