By: Young Foung
All started last Friday morning. It was 6am in the International Airport of Hong Kong, me and twenty of my sleepy classmates were on our way to the Phillipines. From Tagbilaran, we took a bus which drove along the beautiful coastline, to our place of stay which is called Barangay Tubod Mar. After a one-hour journey, the bus finally stopped and we all thought we could finally rest a bit. Little did we know, we still had to climb up a hill which leads to the village. Sweating and hungry, my companions and I dragged our suitcases to the designated place.
Road leading to our village (the coast).
At the entrance of the village, a grand-mother like figure greeted us with a big smile on her face. She was speaking in ‘Bisaya’, which is a dialect they speak in the region. I tried to speak as slow as I could coupled with some hand gestures so as to break down this barrier of communication, but in vain since the lady did not understand a word in english. She, then grabbed my hand, caressed my face and touched my biceps as I was some kind of greek sculpture. She was a bit too touchy in my opinion, but very friendly indeed.
A little while later, a younger lady walked towards our group and greeted us. We were afterwards separated into groups of two, before introducing us to our respective host family. I was paired up with Juno, a cool guy from Hong Kong. We were sweaty and covered with mud but our host dad, Henry did not care and welcomed us into his small cosy house. He showed us our room and gave us a tour of his domicile. His family comprises of three sons, but only two of them are actually staying with him, Ernest (EJ) and Rheymarbest (Best). The third son and the mother are currently living in another city. After having put down our personal belongings in the room, we then sat down in the living room to have dinner. Juno picked up the fork and reached for the food like a famished beast, but Henry stopped him mid way and told us that in the Phillipines, before eating saying a prayer is a must. So, we proceeded accordingly and did the cross signs and said our prayer before tasting the local cuisine.
Me and my host Daddy during dinner.
I realized that children in the village do not need a lot to be happy, a basketball ball and a court with two basketball rings are enough to bring joy in their daily lives. After school, all the kids in the village gather in the court and start running around and play, usually half of the court is occupied by the elder and more professional players, while the other half is stepped on by the younger children. I’ve been here for one week already and I play with EJ and Best, the two kids in my family on a daily basis. Sometimes, I even go watch them play competition matches at night in the court which is located 15mins walk from our house.
After their match. From left to right: Juno, Best, EJ and Me (taken by their cousin- Ivor)
After few days living with our host family, Juno and I bonded with the two sons very well. On our third day here, which was a Sunday the two brothers brought us to the beach which is just in front the hill path which leads to the village. We swam for quite some time and I convinced them to do some pushups on the beach so as to keep ourselves fit. After few sets of workout they were exhausted and they decided to punish me by burying half of my body in the sand.
The brothers buried half my body J
Since I am a music enthusiast, my two brothers EJ and Best decided to teach me a local song, ‘hahaha hasula’, which is a sad and romantic song. So far I have learnt only few lines, but I hope to finish learning this song by the time I leave the Phillipines. Tuesday Night, our host family and some neighbours, we went to the beach for a chill soirée. EJ and Best took me fishing, it was dark and I was struggling to follow them because they were running so fast. I was using the flashlight on my phone to find my way and by the time I reached them, the brothers already caught some fish using their hands.
The fish EJ and Best caught.
I realized that living in a village like this is not easy. I was pretty much a spoiled kid back in Mauritius, where everything was done for me by my mother or someone else, basically spoon-fed from a young age. I became more independent when I went to Hong Kong for my tertiary studies. But here, things were much more difficult because I had to clean the dishes which is common courtesy and washing my own clothes by hands, which is very tired-some. Nevertheless, I believe that this is an experience I need to go through in order to grow, just like the saying “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!”.I’ve learnt a lot through this trip so far, in developed countries, people take things for granted and nowadays more of them become more materialistic, whereas in developing countries like Phillipines, people are happy with the little they have and even share what they possess –the less you have the more you give. I have always believed that the pursue of money is the most important thing in life, but I was wrong and the villagers here made me realised that in the end what really matters is friends and family- these are the things that do not fade away. I love it here so far, and looking forward for my next coming two weeks.