Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Rocky and Muddy Trail to the home of Mountain People

Blog Series 1:   The Rocky and Muddy Trail to the home of Mountain People

Warning : This short series of post is not a usual travelers' path.

Appreciation about how life would become more allusive is depending on ones' heart and perception. It can be by doing some volunteer work or perhaps it could be on something that pertains to outreach program. Some would prefer the former, some would prefer the latter and some would also prefer both. But for me, I always prefer both, by doing volunteer work and reaching out to others.

I've been yearning to visit this particular community in our place for almost four (4) years since 2009. But only this year, my yearning was realized. That maybe because of my schedule or perhaps it should be espoused with a real timing. Or probably, a permission shall be first sought before the final approval to visit the Heritage Center of the Daraghuyan Tribe.    

Second week of December 2012 was probably the best time among several attempts to visit the place. Why it was the best time? There were three (3) reasons. One was the sincerity of the invitation to partly document the tribe's event as a volunteer photographer. Second was the opportunity to witness the culmination of the event and third, meeting the mountain people of different tribes

The quest? Con Tour is going to the summit.
On board with a 4 x 4 vehicle, we left Malaybalay City at around 9:30 a.m. with a drizzling condition.  I  had a mixed emotions in going to the place of my adopted community. One if the drizzling condition persists, the trail might be so difficult and second, apprehensive to take landscape photos with overcast mode, obscuring the clear sky which is unfavorable to most photographers. 

We arrived at the jump off point where 4-wheel vehicle can no longer afford to pass the track except by foot. When we got off from the vehicle, and started our ascent, the drizzling condition became heavier.  Rocky and muddy trail greeted us and the only way to the community. The home of the Mountain People. My Ate Joy, who came along with us, with her two kids, "X' and "Z", told me that the drizzling was also a kind of welcoming new visitor like me. It was also a community's belief that the drizzling condition also connotes a blessing.

The drizzling never became a threat to me, but instead, it made me felt so comfortable with slow pace on a rough trail, because of the cool climate condition. Hiking with a cool climate condition is better than hiking under the scorching heat of the sun. It will relieve me from dehydration. Probably, if there are words to describe the word "blessing", that was indeed a pleasant experience.   
Seeing the rough trail, I begun to reflect on how difficult the life of our brothers and sisters living in this part of Malaybalay City, right at the foot of Mount Kitanglad. In this same point, I begun to deeply understand and learn the way of life of our brothers and sisters, tagged as Mountain People, as compared to us, urban dwellers.

Their life as compared to us urban dwellers is way too different. They live in a small hut, made of bamboo poles, with walls and floors that made of bamboo slats, a ground without concrete pavement or slabs and just plainly a soil surface, without electricity and water not coming from a prestigious agencies, but from a natural source--the spring or river banks. They have access road to and from their respective homes, but it is made of boulders instead of a concrete paved road  supposedly be provided by  politicians having yearly allocation of "pork barrel".  But yet they were given tasks to protect our forest? Protecting our nature? 

As we walked through a rocky trail, the drizzling continued. Some parts of the trail were purposefully laid out with boulders especially on portion that spattered with mud. That was purposely laid out for visitors coming from the six mountains of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.
As we continued our ascent, I observed my nephew applied what he learned from the boyscout. Leaving marks on the track as trail sign, he averred when I asked him what was he doing. Hopefully, those having a kind and selfless heart would also leave significant marks as their legacy to these people.

When we were almost on the first one (1) kilometer mark on our journey to the Heritage Center, the drizzling suddenly stopped.

I looked back and the sky was so clear. As if no drizzling was happened. Seemed like no trace at all.

Drizzling that connotes as blessing depends on one's perception. I believed in this statement.  Since, I viewed it on a positive light.

I prayed hard for this event and with keen interest to visit the Heritage Center, I was blessed with a good weather afterwards. 
We continued our ascent at a slow and relax pace, but at times, I have to take a rest and take some snapshots in the surroundings.

The surroundings that is free from  harsh development. Development that is usually done by "someone" with inordinate desire to possess wealth. This same surroundings that owned by "Lumads", wishfully that it will still owned by them 50 years or more from now. Hopefully that this will still be their home of their children and grandchildren.   

The possibilities to safeguard their homes is inevitable. Lumad leaders should strongly stand on their ground. They should rationalize things in order to fervently protect their homes, the forest, the nature and the watershed as the concrete icon of life

The forest is Not only home for the Lumads, but also Home of the Philippine eagle
If  eagles will totally vanish, this is one of the possible indicators of famine in my own point of view. Why is that? 

Not only eagles but all other animals whose habitat is the forest. 

If they will gone, we will also be gone. If the forest will totally vanish, water will also be gone and eventually earth will become lifeless. 
The Heritage Center Building, partly hidden.

For about 3.00 kilometers on foot to the Heritage Center, passing through a hard, rocky and muddy trail, we finally set foot on the Home of the Lumads--the Daraghuyan Tribe (Bukidnon Tribe-one of the seven tribes of Bukidnon), located right at the foot of the 4th Highest Mountain of the Philippines, the Mount Kitanglad.

My footwear and the rock on some parts of the trail provided for the visitors.
We were greeted not only with a cool air and climate of the place, but also with this warmth and innocent smile of Daraghuyan Children. 

When I asked them to pose, they then gave their smile gracefully.

Genuine smile of innocent Daraghuyan Tribe children
Con Tour, as KIN volunteer photographer, attended the culmination of the Tribal Summit of the 7 Mountains last December 15, 2012. 

"Lambaga hu mga Datu daw Bae Pu-en hu pito ha Buntud".

7 Mountains : Kitanglad, Kalatungan, Pantaron, Kimangkil, Kalanawan, Sumagaya, Pamalihi. (KKP-KKSP).

8 Con Tour Passers by:

  1. Rocky road. Bagsak ako sa ganitong adventure bro :( pero sulit pag narating na db? yung hospitality ng mga tao ang da best!

    1. Simply lang talaga ang buhay nila bro. kung anong meron sila, kahit konti, ibibigay pa nila. Talagang down to earth sila bro. Iba talaga din ang community nila.

  2. Combining traveling and volunteering in a particular community is what I look forward to do on my future travels. Nice post =)

    1. There's is indeed a unique feeling of fulfillment when doing some volunteer work especially if it is done holistically. Thanks Jherson Jaya for visiting my site.

  3. Thanks for sharing this inspiring story Bon. Hope to read the next series soon.

    1. Hello Tita Chy. Thank you pala sa mga information you supplied to me. Thanks also sa mga references. :-).

  4. What is KIN, Bonz?
    Kakainggit naman! Eto ang mga travels na gusto kong gawin, communing with the indigenous peoples!

    1. Hello Ding. KIN Stands for Kitanglad Integrated NGOs (KIN). Gusto ko kasing makawitness na kanilang mga practices Ding. Kumbaga, a short immersion na kagaya ng iyong ginagawa.:-).


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