The day has been so warm. I am sweaty, dusty, and I have not had any bath yet. I will have to go to Jolo to get a bath, and in either the river on a bridge, or on canal next to rubbish, or for P10, on a hardware with several toilets walled with rusted roof sheets. I can go buy water right in the barangay, but as nobody could spend money to buy water for bath, i too would rather not.
I slept quite late last night, woke up early, and started work early, starting with hitting the dry and hard compact soil to attempt to move some plants. None of the people I am working with, neither the people in the community seems to want to move.
Just outside the fence of this school are the badjao girls gambling… real gambling and on colorful make up. Then, if only they see us get a drink, cola, coffee, or even just water, they would pick up any bottle they can grasp, run fast, and put that gloomy face. This is the first time in real I was ever begged for water to drink. Not even bottled clean water, but just tap. And even during lunch when we’d eat in the classrooms, they would grab any used plastic on the ground and be in the window, waiting for our leftovers. And on another day where the food we have was just enough or even short for us, they were begging for even the few grains leftovers and fishbones we have. They came in the room and feasted in what for me is absolute nothing. They are not even in the streets… They just stay at their homes.
They don’t go to school. There is an accepted and tolerated discrimination between Tausugs and Badjaos. The latter being “filthy and rancid” hence nobody wants to stay next to them. They get verbally and slightly physically abused, so they’d rather not go to school. Their parents are not bothered in any way.
They are fishermen, and yet they crave fish.
As i was working on the windows, Diana, a badjao kid with such a moving smile talks to me and asks if i can put a grade 4 class in the school too. She said her school is too far (i estimate about 6 kilometers). I could not give an answer. I smiled and rubbed my hand to her head.
Turn your sight around, and everywhere else is rubbish and things waiting to rot.
You have young college students and unemployed graduates who could not think beyond a popular hit song. They spend money as if their parents are earning way beyond the minimum wage. They would rather burn and do away than recycle. A little damage is to a quick replacement.
After a day’s work, I wanted to hangout to clear up my mind, but all I got is the crowded and flooded pier or Landing (airport), where I would most likely fall into anyway.
I wanted to call my friends and just burt out my frustrations, but my unli call subscription won’t connect. Neither sms messages would send. It has been 2 days. I was told it is the case whenever there is a military operation. Nevertheless, if you go a little bit outside Jolo, reception is almost Nil. Then again, you can’t stay late in Jolo; 8pm would have been too dark; Besides, there is a 10pm curfew.
I am rebuilding a school in an almost hopeless nowhere; I don’t see the solution from anywhere here; not even from anyone around. Who do I blame, who do I call, who do I seek help? I’m lost. The only thing I know is I, nor anyone i know, was ever in any of these situation. And the smiles of these kids are a regret to the life that awaits them.
There are 3 things I love so far: Fish (fresh and cheap), Bang Bang (Daral, Putlimandi and Katilapan) and the reef (Pagasinan and Macaras Island). The rest is One big oh my god. Where is Sulu Sailing?
For details of the story, visit Ian’s blog at limbonis.com.