A Trip To Paradise: A Reflection

       As a traveler, I get to see the world in many different ways. On my own homeland, I get to see people in all walks of life, but rarely have experiences living in their shoes. As we travelled to Quezon province, I was so ecstatic because it’s not that I will visit that province for the first time but the fact that we’ll get to see the beauty of the community were headed to. It’s my nth time visiting Mt. Banahaw so it’s easy for me to cope with the nature of the trip—mini hiking—and the “pamamahay”. The most exciting part of the trip for me is going to BK Valley. It’s not far from our community partner but it’s really difficult to get there without a dirt road vehicle (if you don’t like walking that is). It’s actually my first time in that community but I feel like I’ve been there a long time ago. Déjà vu? Not really. So we arrived at the 1st community, Brgy. Sta. Lucia where we trekked the Mt. Banahaw’s famous pilgrim places. It was a sacred place for the people who lives there and for the pilgrims who visit the place. We went down more or less 400 steps and we had to count how many steps we take according to the beliefs that when you’ve perfectly counted the steps, you will be granted your wish, i.e health. But there are actually many versions of that superstition. Anyway, on our way to the “buhok ng ina” and “balbas ng ama”, we stopped by and prayed to the stone altar of Mama Mary—or so I thought. Then anyone of us who wants can drink or experience touching the waters of the twin mini falls. We then went back up the same stairs we went down and went to what seems like the gate of heaven—it was the place where the book of San Pedro lay and there are 4 pillars with a roof and at the back, the “husgado” cave where most pilgrims go in. We lit some candles, I wrote my name using the candle and we prayed. We went back the bus and got our things and went straight to BK Valley. On our way to BK Valley, I realized how far the community is from the town and how hard it is to travel going to and from the community. It really is a secluded place. We rested for a bit and went to our families. Thea and I went with our foster mother and tried out how to live like them. We saw their humble abode and I can just imagine how hard they must’ve felt sleeping without a mattress. I felt how lucky I was because despite everything I’ve been through God still gave me a home. However, I also saw how poor I was because at least their family is bounded by love and trust while our family is separated and we never really do anything as a complete family anymore. Washing the crops seems like a really good thing to do there. Though I can’t imagine how many root crops do they have to finish washing for the day because I felt so overwhelmed. Then we found out that they count them by kilos, not by pieces they’ve washed in order to get a little amount for the whole day effort they give. We, Thea and I, then went to harvest some “labanos”. It’s really hard because we have to be careful not to pull out baby crops yet. How would we know what to pick anyway? Our foster mother and her daughter taught us some tricks. Right there I realized the value of eating those vegetables because I know now how difficult it is to work for it but only getting almost nil for the hard labor. Imagine going through the process of planting, harvesting, washing, weighing and carrying the crops to the town and only getting less than Php 7 for a kilo? Imagine the gas wasted carrying the vegetables? If you’ll compute everything, they spent more than they’ve earned. That’s a proof that life is really unfair. Going back to Manila, I realized how bad the situation over there in the province and how much more bad it is in those secluded communities. I really hoped that the government focus on improving the lives of those in the province especially those in the secluded areas.

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