Saturday, September 25, 2010

Baranggay Tinago, San Isidro (September 24, 2010, Friday)

This was the place chosen for our community service exposure. Tinago is the Tagalog word for hidden and it indeed expressed its unseen location. It was a sort of wilderness and most houses there were built only through planks of tree leaves. The place was indeed tough to locate and one can get easily lost if you’re not familiar. Going there, one could find a great disparity with the nearby subdivision. The famous Camella homes were also situtated in San Isidro and it was beyond doubt a big contrast. The comparison is like between a majestic palace and our Lord’s Bethlehem.

Our teacher was supposed to be the CI but there was a last minute change. It turned out that our CI was a registered midwife. Along with 3 other Midwifery students, we headed out to San Isidro. We were 6 girls all in all as the other one was late but managed to join us.

After paying a visit to the baranggay hall to inform them of our presence, we walked towards Baranggay Tinago with our host. And upon arriving, there were plenty of children roaming around. Our CI talked to their parents/guardians and told them of our stay from 8 am to 4 pm to teach them ways of improving their lives into healthy ones. We were divided into 3 pairs and here again, my sister and I split due to language barriers.

During the morning, our CI told us to do blood pressure on the people while at the same time do a bit of interview of their life. So, we searched out for them and some agreed and some declined. On our interview and observing them, I noticed that most of them have their TV’s on. They’re really glued on that and yet they’re also poor. They do not have commercial water and rely only in the flowing water there. This was a sad scenario. For it appears to me that they simply divert their being poorness in merely watching TV’s. These people truly need Catholic evangelization since I learned that most of them are Catholics. One can actually get a hunch by simply looking at their houses - they have little statues of the Infant Prague and other blessed pictures of the Jesus and Mary. Some even have the blessed Palms of the Lenten Season. Anyways, after our searched was finished and it’s nearing 12 noon already, we decided to have a lunch. After all, it was really exhausting. Having a door to door approach was not easy since the scorching heat was around. If we were to check our own blood pressure, I guess we’d fall into the high blood category already!

We ate lunch on the house of our host who was kind enough to lend us their hut for our belongings as well. This had become our headquarters. However, this place was truly unimaginable. On the house’s side, there was a piggery and some chickens too. Coming from a well established place, I wasn’t used to this and much more of their flowing water that was on a ground level. I learned that they also take bath there. Here, we washed our hands and did toothbrush. We also washed the dishes they shared with us and it was really a challenge. There was neither faucet nor sink - just a little countertop. I was getting clumsy but it was something that needed to be overcome. Fortunately, I got over with it with much patience (and grin).

After lunch break and preparing our schedule while at the same time resting, our CI told us to explore the community even more so as to continue our blood pressure and interview program. Armed with our BP apparatus, notepads, and pen, we treaded once again. And on our exploring, we were able to have a sight seeing of the vast lands of Mindanao - full of crops and beast of burden. It was like seeing Mindanao from a hill since the road we strolled was stirred upwards. Indeed, Mindanao is rich with bountiful soils and it’s such disheartening that its name is notoriously associated with war and strife.

Much as I wanted to glimpse more, it ended shortly for we have a work to do. But on the way, we also saw herbal plants that are quite helpful to the community and so we listed them as well on our notepads. Anyways, we succeeded in hunting out for the people. Some were resting, others watching, and few were laundering clothes. We talked to them about health and of what their way of living is. One of the interview lists is about family planning and contraception. Our CI is quite modernist here since she insisted on asking it to each and every person and even encouraged its use. Most of the people do not practice contraceptives yet but she was adamant on it saying that it will result on a “good” life. I wish I could stand out but I can’t. The only thing I can do is to remain silent for that’s the current mode of teaching by our head. How ironical for she is a Catholic but her teachings were truly against the Faith.

The second day began with gardening - collecting garbage, raking, and sweeping everything that’s a mess in the ground. Actually, we managed to clean their so called garbage area and put it in sacks so as not to have a port of germs. In this example, we showed them that cleanliness is the first part of having a healthy life. After that, we had a lunch break. Gardening left us almost extinguished for we returned on the hut panting for water and indeed very dirty. After lunch, our companions had a siesta while my sister and I prayed since we couldn’t really get a siesta there.

We were expected to have a 5-day activity there but it was cut short as there was a problem with the CI. She was always late and sometimes asked us to go there by ourselves all alone. This didn’t go well with our mother and so the 2nd day was our last. In our brief stay, it was still a blessing to meet them. I remember how during our livelihood project, we were cooking banana chips for them and the kids instantly grabbed then even though it’s still fresh and hot from the pan. This proved how hungry they were and we always sympathized with them.

I always admire the children there for they’re always cheerful even if their lives turned out poor. This rang a bell to me of Bp. Williamson’s observation of our unfortunate people. He commented and praised them - “the poorer they are, the happier they are.” Undeniably it was. I once saw a child playing with a make shift horse ride. Perhaps, his father made it for him. Playing with them was also amusing since they’re very active. We giggled with them and taught them how to participate on a team. Then, one student asked me to replace her in leading a prayer for the kids since she was a Muslim. I taught them how to pray before meals and most of them already knew the proper Sign of the Cross. It was really breathtaking and sometimes it was enough to dissuade the tiredness that’s lingering already on my whole body.

It was a blessing in disguise that we left already for I really couldn’t bear our CI. I could have ended having a head on collision debate with her ultra modernist thinking when it comes to family planning issue. Yet, when we met our friends at school during our CPR session, they told us that the community missed us and even they admitted of missing our company. Perhaps, when I get the opportunity I shall visit them someday again armed with all the necessary things needed for their sanctification.

Oh Our Lady of Ransom, please protect them from the snares of the devil. I ask that thou keep them for thy Son’s sake and grant that they may soon come to realize the true sense of our Catholic Faith! Amen.

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