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.