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Sharing Stories - A Glimpse into Another's Life - Visiting a Mining Village in Samar, Leyte

PHILIPPINES | Wednesday, 17 April 2013 | Views [260] | Scholarship Entry

I almost slipped as I stepped on the muddy, khaki-colored, stony pathway leading to the riverside. I picked up my senses and trudged on more carefully, making sure my sneakers were stepping on the dry, big stones and not the slippery parts in between them. Lush, dark green weeds greeted my knees, struggling to have a place in this narrow path surrounded by big forest and coconut trees that roofed this town. My 12-year old chaperone urged me to move faster.

"I will show you where I work!", he said excitedly, his dark eyes glinting as the sun, which peeked from the leaves of the thick trees above us, danced on his brown face, hitting the bonier parts, emphasizing his cheekbones and his wide smile. His tanned, slender legs were hopping from one rock to another. I couldn't go any faster or else my clumsiness would get the better of me. "This is it!", he said, waving his arms proudly. I scanned the area for any signs of machinery or anything that fit the description of conventional "mining". None. Only slanted land area with slightly dented parts and eroded topsoil. I managed a half smile, careful not to make him feel insulted.

He told me how they worked every day, all five of them. His three brothers, his father, and himself, toiling with their hands to get copper or stones to be sold to the dealers. He told me how they had to cross the rivers to get to the town proper and meet up with a middle-aged man who owned a truck and get a few hundreds for a couple of kilos. He told me how all five of them would come home to a decent meal of steamed kang-kong (spinach) with soy sauce and rice, cooked by his mother who has another one on the way. He told me, while we walked back to town, that he was happy. He told me, that if they have a good week after this, they'd buy fish from the market for his father's birthday.

I told him, "You're a good man." And he laughed like it was a joke because he said he was just a boy. And I remembered that he is. Thin frame, yellow smile -- tomorrow was never an option. It was all he ever had. When we finally got back, I looked around this small town: bamboo fences, nipa huts, chickens being fed; women with small brown babies on their back, sweeping dead leaves on the ground, giving life to an afternoon of waiting for their men to come home to another evening by the lamplight, or an evening under the stars.

I thought that his life was no different than mine. For I too, longed for nothing but to be home before the dark comes.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2013

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