Mindanao was a trip I wasn't prepared for. First, I didn't know what we were going to do there. I booked the flight just a few days before, and I just said yes to Jay, cause he had a plan, and I didn't bother to find out what on earth it was.
And the plan turned out to be one that involved military escorts, because it wasn't very safe.
And that was really sad, because it meant that I couldn't wander off too much to take photographs. I would've done it still, actually. I would've wandered off. But I packed only shorts. And that complicated things a teensy bit. Plus the community was a water community, so I'd have to wade from one house to the other, but my slippers kept on getting stuck in the marsh and the flip-flops' thong kept on getting detached from the sole, so that was that.
I bonded with these little schoolgirls, instead. It was a good feeling, sharing my passion with them. :) I always learn more from them than they will ever learn from me, but it was nice being able to share what I could with them.
They live in houses on stilts--a community of mangroves and marshes and seaweeds. Here they're showing me the different kinds of things they find in their waters.
Before Yellow Boat came to give them a means of transport, they had to wade and swim to get to school. Here's their story:
I got goosebumps seeing them arrive with Philippine flags in this lovely yellow boat.
When we were there, one of the kids caught my eye. I never got his name, cause he was really shy. But man, was he resourceful. He doesn't have a backpack for school, so he crafted one out of a plastic bag. Isn't he awesome? His will to go to school is beyond inspiring. He needs a bag and school supplies though. Maybe you want to donate? You can donate cash, but if you want to give backpacks and school supplies, that would be helpful as well.
You can now support our communities with your donations. Just email the scanned deposit slip to email@example.com after so that we can confirm receipt of funds. Thank you!
Account Name: Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, Inc.
Banco de Oro - Mayor Jaldon Branch, Zamboanga City
S/A no. 3170134579
BDO Swift Code: BNORPHMM
The day after, we visited another Yellow Boat community in Lakewood. They had to walk around the lake for five hours to get to school, again, before Yellow Boat provided them with bangkas. I got stuck for a good hour by myself in an island there without my camera or my phone. In the pouring rain. And no one spoke my language! That's a story for another day though. So I only have one photo. I just thought this kid looked like a superhero, and maybe he is.
The night before we went home, we had dinner by the bay in Zamboanga, and while walking, I heard the sound of drums. I looked over, and this is what I saw. Badjaos. I was told that a lot of them live in their boats. At night, they dive for the coins that people throw in the water. They play music for spare change. They also sell wood carvings and miniature galleon ships. I was told that they're so used to the water, that walking in land makes them uneasy.
A final little story. When our boat docked near one of the stilt houses, I knocked on one of the doors, and I was welcomed by this. It was a house filled with sunflowers and yellow things and other little amusing trinkets. Disney princesses. Things I loved. There was a window, and outside it, I saw yellow boats. On the other side was a mirror, and it was me. And for some reason, all these things came together in a tiny little place. I took this photograph, and it almost felt like I was meant to be there.