This is a long overdue work. In many instances I have skipped writing about this activity but I think our experiences there deserve recollection. Now, Makipamuhay XVII is an annual activity of the institution where I once worked and it involved immersing students in a community. And immersion here pertains to actual living with the community, doing what the people there do, eating what the people there eat, among others. For this particular year (that is, last year) we were assigned to Brgy. Cabuoan in the town of Santa Maria, Laguna.
* the first orientation/meeting of the student-immersionists
* religious items inside the village chapel
* morning check on the student-immersionists
* an old water pump
* a view of Cabuoan fields
The village of Cabuoan is situated past the town cemetery and this undeniably gives Cabuoan a different connotation. I have recently met a previous resident of Cabuoan and I shared to this person my experiences in their place. This acquaintance in return relayed that there came those times when Cabuoan was seen as a place where ‘salvage’ (specifically, the negative connotation of the word) is common. But nevertheless, this person was quick to note that the place is now relatively peaceful.
* bamboo ornaments
* flowers as walls
* the mighty sili!
But when we first arrived in the place, there were no such thoughts within us for the people were generally amicable. It was a surprise actually to see that most of the invited families wanted students for ‘adoption.’ Unfortunately, we can only accommodate a limited number of families.
The first day of the immersion activity was spent in making ourselves literally at home in the village (although we actually ‘lodged’ in the village day care center), checking the status of the student-immersionists, and preparing for the next day’s activities.
* teammates for the immersion: Nathan, Faith, Susie, Chano
* plant in the midst of the waters
* free lunch!
* afternoon orientation/meeting/sharing
* village children
What I particularly enjoyed was the visit to the town proper in the afternoon where I was able to see their church (see my post about Santa Maria church here). The visit of course was not a leisurely one for we had to shop for our food.
Later in the night, we started doing the night check on the student-immersionists (of course we wouldn’t want to find out some lost or ‘misplaced’ students in the village!). It was the first time that I visited a cemetery in the middle of the night, with only several barangay tanod and small flashlights as companions. During that cemetery traverse, we were able to see graves cracked open, bones in the open, and withered flowers all around us.
* view of the mountain around Santa Maria;
shot en route to the town market
* sign for the Yoyong and Dita’s Resort
* makeshift bridge
* afternoon check on the student-immersionists
Aside from the place of the dead almost getting to our nerves, we encountered highly territorial dogs ready to defend their masters’ houses and devour whatever or whoever comes in as a stranger. There was a poultry we passed by which have a small army of dogs for their security. Through that same poultry I was reminded that the night is not limited to sleeping. There workers were all active, doing their respective works as if the sky above them is not blanketed in darkness.
* roaming group to make sure we are alright
* night check on the student-immersionists
* Pransis under the dark
* free arroz caldo for us night checkers courtesy of the barangay tanod team
To cap our night check, the team of barangay tanod who accompanied us treated us with arroz caldo. They got a chicken from a house we passed through and gladly turned that into a delicious midnight snack. The night chow was mixed with lengthy conversations and fun-filled TV watching. It turned out that those were not the only ones we were going to experience in Cabuoan.