Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 12th: Bayan-Bayanan - Arriving at the school

An Aeta mother adjusting a chestnut lei on Aaron Fadrigalan as other mothers wait anxiously to hand out theirs

Aeta mother putting a chestnut lei over George's head as
students wave flags in the background to
celebrate our arrival.
We left CLSU at 7:20 a.m. and arrived at Dinalupihan at 11:00 a.m. Due to a late start time, a detour for a pit stop in the middle of the drive, and just our own miscalculation of the time it would take to get there, we arrived two hours late for the program. Honestly, it was sad and embarrassing showing up late, and I could tell some of the kids were feeling the same way.

Once we reached the town plaza, we were all surprised to see everybody lined up, cheerfully waving Philippine and American flags for our welcome. We were greeted by an exciting and festive atmosphere. The whole town was there. The mayor, Barangay officials, all the teachers, even the Aeta parents and kids walked 7 kilometers down the mountain just to be with us.

As we disembarked from the bus, Aeta parents in their traditional dress greeted everyone with traditional lei made from local chestnuts that the tribe collected in the forest throughout the week.

And what a surprise!
Vince Dube being given a chestnut lei upon arrival

Despite only two weeks lead time to learn how to play their instruments, the school's brand new drum and lyre band opened the program with a crisp rendition of "Lupang Hinirang," the Philippine national anthem. Next, a select few of their students performed the doxology. Throughout their performance, I honestly couldn't stop shedding tears. Tita Cris, during her speech, confessed too that she couldn't help crying with joy after watching the young students perform, and even Nolen wrote later on in his comments to the school that he had tears in his eyes. Within just a few minutes of arrival, we were already touched by what we had seen.

Sierra Jamir

Students of Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School in formation for their doxology
A group picture of the IP Rondalla with some members of the Bayan-Bayanan drum & lyre band.
Plaques being handed out to those who made this day possible. From left to right: Bayan-bayana's young Mayor Maria
 Angela Garcia, Principal Juvy Nacu, VEST Founder Evelyn San Buenaventura, Tita Cris, Naty Rubico, and the
Barangay officials. Not shown in the picture are former Principal Helen Mendoza, Division Superintendent Tarcila Javier,
and the Bayan-bayan teachers.

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