The Panay-Bukidnon

Rain clouds seemed to be following us ever since we left the terminal just outside Iloilo city.  There were  4 of us squeezed at the passenger row of the pick-up–me, Taton, Teresing, and the mother of one of the students of Iloilo City High who were at the open bed of the vehicle. We were headed to the Panay-Bukidnon community in Bgy. Garangan in the Calinog mountains. By the time we arrived in Calinog town,  the students were soaked.  They all took it good naturedly, though. Taton and I headed to the market to buy some food for our dinner and breakfast.

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Saw this jeep at the gas station. It was really long and large and had bus-like seats!

The skies had turned grey again so we all piled-up for the drive up to Garangan. The road to Alcalaga which was just 15 minutes away was relatively good. From thereon to Garangan, the gravel road deteriorates as it snakes along steep ravines with sharp curves. It had started to rain by then which made it a little nerve-wracking. About 30 minutes after passing Alcalaga, we arrived in Garangan. The rain had ceased and the cheery greetings of the people brought some sunshine on otherwise dreary day. After 19 years since I last set foot here, I was back in one of my early fieldwork sites.

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Many things had changed. There’s electricity now and there’s running water in some houses.

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The biggest change of all is ‘Tay Pedring (Federico Caballero) is now a Manlilikha ng Bayan which has thrust the community and the Panay-Bukidnon in the national consciousness. There is now a School.of Living Tradition where children learn to sing, dance, and other aspects of their culture every Saturday.

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It was good to see the Caballeros again. I brought my fieldwork pictures and showed it to them, reliving their memories. Seeing their father in one of them, Manang Teresing and Mang Dolpo started to weep. They’ve never seen a picture of their father.

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We spent the rest of the day just relaxing, talking to them, and getting some data if it came along. TREK was arriving the next day so I took advantage of being there ahead to just visit people and re-connect. In the evening, Mang Polding, told us a hinaunon (story) about Doña Blanca and Don Juan which lasted over an hour. I couldn’t understand the language, unfortunately,  as he was narrating in Hiligaynon.

I didn’t get to sleep that much in the evening. Insurgency is very active in the mountains of Panay and there had been ambushes in Alcalaga the past weeks. I was half-expecting to hear armalite shots. Such a worrier.

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