Well, it’s Sunday the 9th of June and there is a storm brewing, more rain on the way. From July to November each year the rain falls here in Kulaman with monotonous regularity, not millimetres per hour but centimetres per minute (1-2 metres in 6 months).
As I look out over the valley and the rows of mountain peaks pressing against the clouds, I feel sorrow rustling in the distant trees. “Are we delivering freedom or shackles of man-made slavery?”. One ponders whether we should be interfering with the tranquil lifestyle of the Manobo.
There is a fine line between helping and hindering.
As we set our sights to take these people forward and teach them to read and write and count to ten, are we really improving their lives. If we look at this from western eyes the answer is a resounding, Yes!, however as we take time to consider the Manobo people and their innocence aimlessly follows our guiding hand, will they be better off? “Are their problems preventing them achieving “our” standards or theirs?.” Are our perceptions of what is right for these people the real answer or are we interfering with nature working at her best?
The survival of the fittest!
While we ask ourselves these question , we must try to reduce the poverty imposed on these people by nature and modern man. “Man” took a detour in evolutionary progress when the monetary system was developed. Invented to make it easier for the rich to control the poor (man imposed poverty). Equity has been lost as the imposed value of “our” labour and the “necessities of life” in the western world was forced on everyone on the planet. The currency system does not provide the flexibility to cater for all mankind. The lowest denominator is always the loser. We have always relied on aid in the form of “cast off” resources to make life bearable for the people left behind, those who do not fit the model. When people from western society see the plight of people like the Manobo their emotions are usually mixed, at first there is pity and then as one evaluates his own ambitions and achievement the photo loses perspective and slips away.
Back to work! Just a few more nails to be bedded home and we are finished, By no means a Taj Mahal, but for the purpose intended it is a noble structure.
The classroom – our shelter for the project is near completion, this structure will keep the sun off us and shield our sound system from rain during the coming project launch day. As I look out across the valley, What an amazing backdrop…!. “Nature at it’s best, no straight lines just an easel covered with silence and green and blue hues of tranquility”.
If this was where international policy makers sat to make decisions that affect the lives of all mankind. I am sure those decisions would be very different indeed.
It’s now 4.30PM and as the sun reduces it’s pinch on my neck, the building is ready and we can now send out the invitations to call the Manobo people in to receive our offerings. As we develop a plan for their future and fill all the boxes with the correct information the time is approaching to change their lives…for better or for worse…there is no turning back now! I guess time will tell if we are interfering or helping them …a question only answered in history or a wiki in the future!
Time to head back to the civilisation and advances we believe are best for us!
As we pack the SUV bound for Gensan, with a bag of new rice, and a large bunch of ripening bananas time approaches once again to traverse the mountain track back to Isulan, I chuckle a little as I contemplate what might be (??)…I have 4 hours of fighting the ruts and potholes, zigzagging through the maze, dodging the precipices, hoping the overhanging cliffs hang on a few more days and let me pass unscathed as we travel just 20 kilometres back to the concrete path of “civilization”.
Planning and preparing a project of this magnitude is like to planning a new business. The range of resources one must pull together is challenging, but as we break the problems and issues down into bite size chunks, the map slowly but surely takes shape. Like Google Earth as we zoom-in the detail appears and each step provides us with more and more solutions and the answers becomes clearer.
As a cartographer once said, “Wouldn’t it be great if the map in our minds could be printed, that would be the ultimate mapping project”. This moment was one of those maps!
As Nelia takes a nap or a recess in her curriculum planning…Zzzzzz! I have 3.5 hours to consider our achievements, what is left to be done…maybe our help is too late for the Manobo people….we can but give it our best shot?
Wow! What a beautiful view…makes all the challenges worthwhile!