|Paul Castro proudly holding up a painted rock from the Aetas. Literally a Rondalla "Rock."|
|Our Ates, Luz and Angela sharing a young coconut|
(buko) as a refreshing drink and delicious snack
after a cool rain shower.
Each of the IP Rondalla kids and parents were also given a rock by the Aetas as a souvenir. I must admit it looks like any common rock you find outside, BUT it is no ordinary rock. These are volcanic rocks whose edges were smoothened by river waters over thousands of years. The Aetas lovingly collected them in their mountain streams and each were meticulously hand-painted with IP's logo of a Philippine flag being held aloft by children. I became curious and asked one of the Aetas why they chose a rock as a gift? She smiled and told me, "It's because Rondalla Rocks!" I thought, "What a bright idea! I never thought about it in that context at all." In any case, this piece of rock became so endeared to many of the IP Rondalla kids that they don't want to part with them at all...to the point of getting into trouble with airport security officials. But that's another story.
After a warm welcome and great merienda (snacks) of freshly harvested and opened young coconuts (yummy!), we played a few folk and popular rondalla tunes for our hosts and the enthusiastic Bayan-bayanan audience. In return, the Aetas treated us to an original and authentic rendition (not the tourist variety) of their traditional song and dance. We were also scheduled to have parlor games and tree planting with the Aeta kids afterwards, but a sudden shower prevented us from doing so. We were so disappointed. The Aetas, however, comforted us. The burst of rain, we were told, is a good sign that heaven favors our group and pours its blessings on us.