It sounds counterintuitive – I joined a contest about being a wanderer yet I traveled to a place where a lot of motorcyclist go to… But is “wandering” really about going to an exotic location and taking the road less traveled? To be totally honest, I’m not sure. But I do know one thing , every ride is different from the last one and I’m pretty certain that this will be as good if not better than the others.
It was a holiday so I left early in the morning to avoid the motorcycle rush. Most likely a lot of riders are thinking of the same thing, to go out and experience the cool breeze and the amazing scenery of Infanta, Quezon and of course the seemingly never ending twisties.
Stopped by “Marquez Bulaluhan” to satisfy my already growling tummy. There were a lot of riders already and the kitchen was in a mild frenzy. When I saw “Nanay” I immediately said “Hi!”, she stopped what she was doing and directed her attention towards me, I started telling her why I was there. Her reply caught me off guard. “All your solo rides have finally came full circle. I wish you good luck.” All I could say was, “True!”
A curious little fellow.
My breakfast… “Adobong Bayawak” was quite a delicacy. It was really tasty and full of texture… but it was a bit bony. I always thought that the skin was going to be hard and would give me some difficulty in terms of chewing but as it turns out, it was quite soft and delicious. The serving was good for two people and so I decided to just pack the remaining half and order another set of rice so I would have something for lunch. After that hearty meal I went on my way.
You will see a river as you descend down to the lower parts of Infanta, it’s a beautiful site from the top, but it is even better when viewed up close. It was quite a challenge to find a path going to this river and by looking at it from the top, I’m pretty certain getting there wont be easy. I found a road that was a mix of dirt, mud and rounded shape rocks. There were tire tracks that were deep and fat while others are narrow and shallow indicating that motorcycles pass here as well as small trucks but the tracks only go a certain point.
Excitement filled me as I saw the the river but my expectations was exceeded as I saw much more than that. There were make shift shelters and as I got close I noticed people inside mostly children but there were also two female adults one was still breast feeding while the other one seemed to be a bit older and you can also feel that she’s also the wiser. I tried to make small talk by greeting them good afternoon in Tagalog and they replied in Tagalog as well, which made me extremely happy as it means we can have a conversation.
Side story: I have been trying to look for them before. There’s actually a blog post that you can read here, about my first attempt to find them. I’ve met some during our outreach program but it was in a different setting as they were not living as nomadic as this family.
Why am I looking for them? Prior to my PH tour I studied some survival skills just incase something bad happens to me I would have the skills and knowledge to over come it. I continued practicing these skills through trainings, but I always felt that there was something missing… I need to be trained by people who actually do this in their day to day life.
I stood up and started taking photos, it seems the children are quite curious and eager to see what I’m going to do. So I walked around and documented their shelter, one thing that struck me the most would be the lack of food, I went through the three shelters and theres no sign of food anywhere. I went back to the elder and asked if they have already eaten, much to my surprise they said they haven’t yet. They don’t seem that hungry but the lady that was breast feeding seemed lethargic, I’m guessing it’s because she has not eaten yet. This was already pass noon, even I was hungry. Then I remembered I still had some of those “Adobong Bayawak” with me and some emergency canned foods, so I went back to the bike to get them.
I handed it to their elder and she asked what was in it. I told her it was an “Adobong Bayawak” she then asked me where I got it. I told here that I just got it from a resto on the higher part of Infanta, she just nodded and said thank you.
While we were chatting with each other, I noticed this boy was holding is a makeshift spear. I asked what it was used for, she told me that it’s used to catch fish in what they call the “Agos,” which is the river. You will be amazed at the next thing that I’m going to show you.
Ingenuity, creativity, craftsmanship, that’s all I can say. The goggles that you are looking at are hand made. The one on the left seems like it was carved of a PVC pipe while the other was carved from wood with glass pieces to help see through the water.
The children said something to each other in their “Katutubo” dialect, I have no idea what it was. But they just started running and boy they were fast. By the time I got to them they were already jumping into the river and was having a blast, in this day and age wherein most kids that you see are doing something with their tablets and smartphones this was really refreshing to see.
I came back and and asked them about their life here and in what way can I help them their reply tore me apart. She said that this our way of life “We gather what we can and turn them into charcoal once we have exhausted everything here were going to look for a new place. Our men leave during the day to look for jobs in the towns and come back later in the afternoon so we could have something to eat sometimes if they are unlucky they just go into the forest to look for something else. We don’t get those relief goods that they give away at the “centre’s” as we are very far away.”
“How can I help?” I asked. She told me that they need just basic things, some cookware and machete’s and then she showed me what she was using. A small piece of steel, clearly a leftover of a bigger size machete with a makeshift wooden handle, she mentioned to me that it was their most important tool.”
My heart melted hearing those words. I asked them, “Do you think you will still be here by next month?” She said definitely and I answered the best way I know how, “I will come back, I really hope your’e still here when I do.”