The children of Batad village could not have impressed me more. They are tech savvy, fashion conscious, speak English and fond of latest English songs. All of them possess mobile phones as well.
From a four year old to a teenager, they all are comfortable with English language unlike in the capital Manila. They are very poor but have big dreams. While kids in cities play computer games, go to malls, blow parents’ hard earned money and kill time, these children of Batad work very hard to earn that extra penny which help them and their family in many ways.
Batad is a relatively tiny village in the mountains of Northern Luzon in the Philippines. Its big brother next door, Banaue (pronounced as banawe or बनावे) is the one you hear more about around Manila.
Elmer, our soft spoken, betel (पान) chewing 15 yrs old porter and guide.
Fifteen years old Elmer who carried our bags for going to Batad, offered his services as a guide as well, when he learnt of our plan to do hiking. During our hike he told us countless things about his village and its people.
The money he earned from us (PhP 900) would go to his father to help him buy rice for the family of six. When I asked him what he wants to become after finishing his studies, “a soldier”, prompt came the reply.
Batad village has just one primary school. So after that, most of the children go to Banaue for further studies and stay in boarding schools. In a later post, you’ll come to know why they can not commute daily. These children also know the importance of money and have acquired the skills of doing business.
Rambo is Elmer’s friend. Very helpful, polite and punctual.
Elmer’s friend Rambo was equally enthusiastic. He too carried bags and became guide for two women. His sister carried a large backpack to Saddle point to pay her college fees.
They were all in the village for their Christmas/ New Year holidays.
Rambo’s sister. 7 in the morning … she was quietly waiting for her customers to hand over the bag.
Maureen sells fish in Banaue market and works, studies & plays on her Acer laptop.
Another teenager I would like to mention here is also named Elmer. He studies in Banaue and doubles up as a skilled wood carver. During holidays he helps his father in earning a little extra. His hard work and sincerity moved us so much that we ended up buying one bagful of wooden artifacts from him.
Elmer, the wood carver at his workshop cum home.
Since he could not leave the shop at that time, he promised to bring the things at our guesthouse that night. It was raining heavily … worried about next morning’s excursion we had almost forgotten about him & his artifacts. At 9 PM there he was at our door holding a torch (electricity is scarce in village) in one hand and a large heavy bag in the other. He had given finishing touches, climbed those steps of terraces and kept his words. He was totally drenched in rain but had saved his creations.
Tech savvy as they are, he is now a friend on Facebook.
I salute these children for what they are.
Young generation of Batad is a part of www.lemonicks.com.
If you like this blog, I suggest you to become fan on Facebook fan page and check out my Twitter.
And I thought the few years in my village were sort of tough before boarding schools… Boy, I was spoilt relatively.
As usual I missed the tag on the top and the fact that you are/were in Philippines now, thought Batad to be in Vietnam and immediately connected the background of last pic (Elmer’s) to a scene in Rambo 🙂
Later figured out, while reading, that there’s a real Rambo in it too.
Amazed to see their strong will for life. Hey.. aren’t our north-eastern people are similar to them in the same manner?
Very inspiring stories Nisha, thanks for sharing.
This is a very moving, yet a feel good tale…so good to see hard working teens doing so much good for a better, more hopeful future…
Enjoyed reading this post. Very nice to hear of them, and their attempt at looking after themselves and their families.
It would be so easy for them to blame another for lack of opportunities, or for their state, but that they do not and seek to lift themselves out of economic hardships by seeking work will stand them in good stead.
Am curious to see Elmer’s carvings, maybe in another post.
wow, such hard working and honest children…it gives me hope for the next generation!!!
What an amazing story- I’m very impressed!!! Thank you for sharing of these amazing youth- often, in these days, we are always talking of how the youth are not ‘serious’- but apparently in this village they are very ‘serious’ about life and helping their families!! Good for them.
🙂 Glad that you figured it out before it was too late. 😛
north-east people similar to these kids? In what manner?
You are welcome.
Yes, Siddhartha. These kids are really amazing. They have a zeal to do better in life.
Absolutely ! Inspite of so much poverty and lack of facilities they are very optimist.
Yes, I will write about Elmer. Today when I was talking to him, he was profusely thanking me and felt very shy about the publicity he is getting. 😀
Some people have this in them. We Indians lack the zeal to do better. We only know to blame others.
Absolutely ! As I said, this young generation is amazing. Very tech savvy, fashion conscious, yet very down to earth.
I really want to do something for them.
Chanced upon your blog thru MalaysiaAsia’s blog =) Great post! I love Batad! I’m happy to see more female backpackers visiting the Philippines. There are a lot of round the world blogs out there but most of the time, I feel disappointed when they skip my home country. I have backpacked around the Philippines for almost half a year and I wish more backpackers would see its natural beauty. Cheers to you for being one of the adventurous ones and thanks for sharing your lovely words about the Philippines to the world.
Welcome aboard. Philippines is a beautiful country with loads of natural beauty. I love it and at present I am again enjoying it. I have seen the tourism in Philippines is growing manifolds,so don’t you worry on that part. 😀
Thanks for dropping by.
Liked knowing more about people rather than place. Will send link to a friend who is from this country.
I always try to see how locals behave, live, enjoy their lives and this was a pleasant surprise for me. 😀
wonderful post, Nisha! dont know how i missed this.. shall show it to samthith too… and hey, how about pics of those wooden artefacts u bought?
Thanks so much.
Ah those artifacts! The pics are still pending. 🙂
This is a fantastic post and great insights into the lives of these children. That’s pretty amazing that you are now facebook friends with a local from Batad!
When I was hiking from Batad to Mayoyao my guide (a bit older) stopped for a rest in the middle of nowhere. There were some young boys probably about 15, that gave my guide some a re-supply of betel!
Yes, it was surprising when I came to know that they have FB accounts! 😀
And on this trip a massage girl asked me if I have Instagram & LinkedIn! 😛
Betel is very popular among young boys and they tend to have it whole day long.
Thanks for dropping by.
Finally went to Batad last weekend and i did really enjoy it! It was a life-changing weekend trip and the kids there are nice and hardworking. Makes me believe more in the power of simplicity and hardwork.
Hey, are you in the country? 😀
The more I talk about those kids, the more I feel happy about it. 🙂
The time they are a Changin….. and good for the world that the young ones are aware of a lot more than the previous generations…..
This I have not seen in Indian kids who come from poor families. Not talking about one or two cases but the whole village !
Also, they like to keep their places clean wherever they are.