Thursday, December 25, 2014

Basket of Joy 2014 | Initiative for Social Action


(c) Dave Sinson III

I recently joined a group of young professionals, mostly law students from Ateneo and their group is called ISA or Initiative for Social Action. It was founded by Jaypee and Mark Robe. This  is purely volunteerism and giving service to the people, especially those in the marginalized sector. Since it only started few years ago, they only have an adopted community which is Sitio Yangka in Capas, Tarlac but they are planning to reach other communities in the near future.

Before our outreach last December 20 - 21, 2014, we had an orientation at the basement of a fast food chain. The orientation went well and everything were properly explained though I am still curious on what my contribution will be. (Ayoko namang maging palamuti lang dun). I was so excited the whole week, I really miss doing something that is out of my daily routine and meeting other people that I know will help me get back on track, which is really working with people. I was kinda lost when I started working in a medical setting.

(c) Jason Hernandez
Before our assault, we had an orientation/briefing at a fast food chain in Capas, Tarlac and stopped by at Paidyanan to give courtesy call and load 950 kilos of assorted goods to the 4x4 trucks, which will transport us to drop off point going to Sitio Yangka.

Going to Sitio Yangka was very challenging, we endured the 45 minute bumpy ride through lahar and crossed river just to get to the jump off point. Then, it took us 2 and a half hour to get to Sitio Yangka. The trail was harder than Ambangeg Trail of Mt.Pulag. It was all assault, as in 80 to 90 degrees and we were carrying some goods that will be given to the people of Yangka. Good thing is that, they helped us carry our thing. I envy their energy, they were running back and forth while I was panting to death. :P

Finally, when we got to the top, the whole community was waiting for us to give us their traditional welcome. They gave us necklace made of indigenous materials, children wearing their traditional dress (bahag and saya) while playing a clapper made of bamboo, and a bonfire which we had to circled.

We went straight to the classroom and settled down. The community prepared some refreshments and light snacks that we all enjoyed. SALAMAT PO! Then, we proceeded to the assignment of respective foster family.

Me and another volunteer, Nayie, were assigned to the Mendoza Family. They are composed of Tatay Dexter, Nanay Princess, Althea and Aljur. Tatay Dexter was not born nor raised in Yangka but preferred to settle down there because he found serenity in Yangka together with his family. Nanay Princes is from Yangka and she is only 20 years old but I prefer to call her as Nanay to show respect. Althea is so cute and does not want to wear undies or shorts while Aljur always want to be carried by his parents. hehe.

Let me tell you some things about Sitio Yangka their people and environment that I observed during my 24hour stay with them (I prefer not calling them as Aeta because labelling them is discriminating).

1. Basically, they live on top of a mountain,  which is not accessible by any motor vehicle, bringing in and out of goods is not that easy. In order to get there, you must really walk and hike your way up. Accordingly, you can walk 4 hours from the nearest town or ride a 4x4 truck going to the foot of the mountain and hike your way up to the top. Being so, basic commodities like hospital, market and school are not within their reach. But they have the most scenic view above!

"main road" of Yangka

This is their daily view

They have beautiful sunset here! 

2.People of Yangka live a very simple life, they do not have electricity nor gas range stove and water is not that accessible but I envy them for not whining about it. They are content with their usual routine, which is, waking up early in the morning, have some coffee, have a small talk with their neighbors about life and then proceed to their farms. All they want is a land to till and equality.

They usual way of eating together

An ordinary house in Yangka

Mendoza Family House

3. Just like the other Indigenous Communities they are facing human rights issues. (i.e. discrimination, basic education, health and sanitation, ancestral domains, even voters education and financial literacy) This is kind of frustrating because their voices is not really heard, that even the IPRA law is really applicable to them, they are still having a hard time fighting for their rights!

4. Family is what they value the most, all of them are related to each other. They are leaves in a tree, they are individual but still in same tree.

5. The energy of the people will recharge your soul, that no matter how tiring the hike was, it was all paid off with the smile and laughter they gave us. Specially when you hear the children scream "KAMUCHI!!!"

Every child in Yangka knows how to play this, I tried but I fell.


Children having fun with their bubbles!

Salamat Sitio Yangka dahil pinatunayan niyong di kailangan ng marangyang buhay upang maging masaya. Sana maging inspirasyon kayo sa nakakarami. Salamat dahil sa kabila ng lahat ng diskriminasyon na inyong natanggap ay patuloy pa din ang inyong pakikipaglaban sa ating pagka-pantay pantay! Padayon!

I want to go back to this place, it is a haven for me. The tranquility of the place and the energy from the children are priceless. Also, they are very respectful (which you will hardly see in children living in the metro). This is a perfect blessing for me this Christmas, they returned me to my roots and made me realize how blessed I am, to be thankful for all the things I have in life. I think every young professional should join these kind of activities, it is very enlightening and inspiring to be a better person. Instead of posting all the products of commercialism, why don't you help others who are mostly in need. Sometimes, our fast - paced life make us forget what is really the essence of life.

So, how was your Christmas? Did you touch someone else's life?