It was a long and winding road. Mountains were clothed of white and cascading waterfall clouds while the sun was slowly breathing out a foggy cold morning on green grasses and trees. The journey was pleasant and comfortable. The van driver lazily told us that finally, we had reached our destination.
A mountainous town
Legs and back felt like stiff papers glued together to prevent from moving. With droopy eyes, we took two bags of goods and froze on the first breath of air. It was colder than we expected! We were in a mountainous town of Kayapa, Nueva Viscaya, about 8 hours, north east of Manila. It is the vegetable bowl of the region due to its cold weather, suitable to grow various kinds of vegetables. The soil is clay and ginger that made a big contrast on a green scenery. People rendered us a hesitant smile and we grinned in an awkward way.
I couldn't reach my fellow teachers from Thailand on the phone. We left our bags in a shop and with ample information from beetle nut stained teeth teen age boys, me and my sister braved the cold but happily climbed to an uphill school. In half hour, we passed a primary school with kids playing, chatting and picking up rubbish. Adjacent to it was the high school place where the values outreach teaching program has begun.
After dumping our back packs, I was ready to teach with my sister tagging along. She joyfully settled herself on a defaced bench and me, gazed on interested and curious eyes. The program focused on healthy lifestyle with emphasis on drug addiction, faith to God, financial awareness, intrinsic values such as honesty, and practical use of knowledge.
The class turned out to be dynamic and alive. The students were participative and inspired of different experiences from teachers who were teaching non-Filipinos. We taught at two secondary schools and visited two primary schools. We gave out sets of school supplies, Bibles and some financial assistance.
Our last day was allotted to free medical service program which included tooth extraction, consultation, blood sugar test, urinalysis, circumcision and free medicines/vitamins. Volunteer doctors/nurses from Adventist Santiago Hospital, Kayapa Health Center and medical technologists from San Pedro, Laguna aided the program to help 200 people. It was sunny and the busiest day for all of us. I've seen every gleam of gratefulness and relief on each patient's faces. Nevertheless, every smile of everyone was worth capturing.
Blessed to be a teacher
It was our last night, as I walked on a moonlit road amidst singing crickets, howling of dogs and silent chirping of birds, it made me think how richly blessed I am with the experiences. More than the joy of having fresh air, vegetables, fruits and unforgettable memories, a teacher's life is never dull at all. As I wrote this on a chilly night, I was glad, content and at peace to call it a day.
I guess, I will always be teaching, no matter where I would be. Every teaching experience is unique as with every willing learner. Most of all, teachers and students alike, learning has to grow and enriched a life we each play beyond the walls of a classroom. May it be on top of a mountain, farm or with a tribe and culture different on my own?