The Sibulan Experience

by - July 15, 2016

Before this whole endeavor towards this sociology project was finalize, the mere thought of a three-day immersion with rural folks was beyond me. I’ve experienced community service when I was young, by which our school interacted with children from the lower class and taught them Mathematics, English, and Science on Saturdays, but never have I thought of living amongst them. As all paper requirements were passed, fees payed, then the orientation, there was both excitement and fear was taking over me. I’m all too familiar with the idea of heat, lack of water for bathing, and eating traditional Filipino food, but the idea of experiencing it out of my comfort zone was quite nerve-wracking.

When we arrived at Sibulan, Nagcarlan, Laguna, we gathered at this tiny chapel which could fit a good amount of a hundred persons. It was this open space with a set altar and lectern, and amateur hand painted murals of the divine on each side. This was to be our set meeting place as it was vacant because mass only took place on Sundays. We were then assigned to our “Purok” these were their means of identification of each cluster of houses at the barangay. All in all, there were a total of seven. At the beginning there were some complication on regarding to which household we were to be assigned to, since there were three of us in a group, which originally should only be two. Everything was then settled and we ended up in Purok three. We were then accompanied to our respected Purok. The “Kagawad” then distributed us to our respected families. There we were to meet our foster mother, Ate Joanne.

We were greeted by a friendly hello and to her surprise, there was three of us instead of two. She was this small lady wearing a red shirt and brightly colored leggings. Her hair was colored brown, and her smile genuine as day. Her house was quaint. The living room was covered with carpet and the rest was of the house was covered with bright green PVC flooring. The walls, though weren’t sanded nor painted, was concrete. The house had three bedrooms, one master, one bath and two bedrooms for her children, Nunay and John Lloyd. She then showed us around the house and made us stay in both of her children’s rooms as they would all stay in the master’s bedroom.

After we’d settled in we then proceeded to interview Ate Joanne with the prescribed CBMS tool provided by our course. We then learned that there was a tragedy that happened a year ago that affected their primary source of income, which was delivering lansones, which was curtailed  because of the typhoon. They were put into a position by which his husband had to work as an OFW in Hong Kong with a three year contract as a welder. I felt quite sympathetic to the children because, I myself is away from own mother working in another country.

We then conducted the several other interviews which made me realize more and more how very different their lives are compared to us. What surprised me the most is their hospitality, openness and kindness towards us during our entire stay. Every door was open. Whatever food on their table was offered, and our safety was valued.

We were the family who were taken along to go night swimming in secret, and there we met the rest of their extended family. Like all other parents, they were very proud of their children, showing us pictures and telling us about all their accomplishments. This made me thought of my parents and all the hard work they did in order for us to have the life that we have.

Our class was divided into two by which we were assigned task regarding the summary of the CBMS interviews and the rural design for the community. I was one of the few who helped designed for the rural structure for the Sibulan community. We then designed a multi-purpose community space by which was built with indigenous materials and could be built by the community themselves. There I felt how this course and this career that I’m leading towards to can actually make a difference in people’s lives. I felt relevant. I felt that I can actually a difference.

The entirety of the Sibulan experience made me most thankful for everything that I have and the blessings I’ve been given. This also assured me that I am on the right path in taking this major, because I can help those who have less. I hope to visit this place again soon because it was indeed a one of a kind experience and I would, if given the chance, do it all over again.

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