Saturday, December 17, 2005

the place where the roads end

my first time in sitio motunan it was a warm july sunday afternoon to inspect the site of the solar dryer which the community would be doing. i rode with arnold and bapa tugan using the barrio road, which was then quite bumpy already.

my second time in the sitio, i hiked with junie using a "short cut" traversing the valley that separated sitio sambag and motunan. we took the cut in 10 minutes, and arrived at the dryer. we were monitoring if indeed it was finished.

my third time in motunan was yesterday. i was with toto and ate maco, full force assisi team, tying strings, closing the year that was and looking forward to another year of journeying together with the people. the solar dryer and health center were already finished. but much work needs to be done. and it starts with helping the people gain more knowledge in contouring the pakil (as in pakilid) land near the dryer. from this demonstration, hopefully other members of the community could apply the techniques in their own farms.

at the end of the two nights i spent with the community, i swear i was smiling. i think i was even grinning. for these two days just made it to the memories that i would remember 2005 by. it was the first time i spent the evening with a moro community in carmen. i was already sleeping in kapatagan, lanao del sur, but the nights i spent with the motunan folks were quite different.

motunan is nestled in rolling hills a short distance away from the maridugao watershed. its 100 or so families subsist by way of farming. the lands in the community were expansive but the productivity is very low.

motunan is different maybe its because its people have become friends. the young people whom i have had the chance to talk to, the likes of nano, ramla, guiamla, kadil, yusop and marato remind me of young people in the parish. they were gentle and had a way of talking to you that makes you understand what they were saying. i wasn't surprised when i found out that their parents were like that as well, bapa tugan, babu mariam, bapa mamugkat, babu bainaut, babu naut, bapa abdul, imam and monera were gentle as well, even if bapa tugan had to carry a side arm by his side.

i guess that is it. gentleness separates them from other moro communities i have had the chance to visit. it is their ability to look at your eye and have no bias against you just because you are not a moro like them. the openess and hospitality that they gave to us were heartfelt. despite their poverty, they have offered their sinumbali nga manok cooked over hot coals with only salt as flavoring. a small one, eaten in two meals.

the experience was further highlighted by two nights of full moon that made the night glow in an eerie manner. the nights were very quiet as videokes have not reached the community. plus, i had a chance to actually be a farmer. i was trying my very best to control the arado and the carabao, but i can only do it for five minutes. my arms are simply not for doing that kind of work.

we left the community yesterday morning by the route going straight to ranzo. it was quite difficult as the mud made the terrain even more interesting. i had to take off my sandals half way through and walk barefoot. good thing the mud was fine and sticky and there were no stones :)

bapa tugan was telling me how he and his family has been evacuating since 1971. they had been in motunan since two years ago. i hope that they would finally settle down. i hope that the gentleness become the foundation of their dreams (kahanda) of better lives to come. i hope i can help them out.

i jokingly asked bapa if he could give me a piece of land for me to develop and cultivate, he answered with a smile on his face, "kuha lang diha..."

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