Trails to Empower Kids (TREK) is a group of outdoor-lovers bonded by a desire to help children of far-flung communities by bringing school supplies, books, and other things they need. My first TREK experience was TREK Aurora where we went to an Ayta community in Casiguran. There have been many projects ever since (Nueva Ecija, Fuga Island, Tinglayan, Kibungan, etc) but I had not been able to join until now.
I had arrived the day before in the community in Garangan so I had ample time to re-connect to the people I did research with way back in 1996. The group was arriving in the morning from Lambunao, making a courtesy call first at Garangan before proceeding to Masaroy then back again.
It was early in the morning and yet the community was busy cleaning the grounds and preparing lunch.
Bamboo tubes were being cleaned for cooking binakawan, a traditional dish of pork cooked with the bark of the bakaw tree.
These leaves will be used to flavor chicken cooked in coconut milk.
In the meantime, Mang Polding was summoning the children for the Saturday School of Living Traditions class.
Today’s lesson was another episode of a suigidanon (epic).
The sound of 4-wheel drives announced that TREK had arrived. The stuff was dropped-off before heading to Masaroy. Taton and I decided to just stay in Garangan and mingle with the community who were all resplendent in their traditional attire.
The group finally returned and we all assembled at the SLT for the panimo ritual which involved the drinking of rice-wine.
Lunch was dinuguan, pork binakawan, and chicken binakol. So very tasty and yummy!
The children were happy receiving their school stuff. They were also given paper and pencils to draw. It’s amazing how simple things such as these can bring so much smiles to kids.
This is the portable mini library filled with books. Really cute.
The threat of rain did not dampen the community’s lively binanog dancing during the program. It was such a sight to behold the Panay-Bukidnon resplendent in their embroidered clothes moving to the rhythms of the drum (tambol) and agong.
Rainshowers started as we piled into the 4x4s and headed down to the Alcalaga SLT. Fortunately, Wilson was there so I was able to purchase some struck zithers (tekumbo) and buzzers (suganggang) two of which I gave to Kelly and Mae as keepsakes from this wonderful trip. With the rain, there was no chance of staying longer so we want back to the vehicles and headed to Lambunao where we were to stay the night at Mae’s house.
Being with TREK reminded me of our capacity to make a difference in people’s lives. Outdoor people have as much responsibility to the communities we encounter as with the environment. Our love for the former must be greater than that of the latter. TREK reminds me of this.
To support TREK, look for it in FB.