01.01.2011 - 03.01.2011 4 °C
The children of Batad village could not have impressed me more. They are tech savvy, fashion conscious, speak English and fond of latest English songs. All of them possess mobile phones as well.
Batad is a relatively tiny village in the mountains of Northern Luzon in the Philippines. Its big brother next door, Banaue (pronounced as banawe) is the one you hear more about around Manila.
From a four year old to a teenager, they all are comfortable with English language unlike in the capital Manila. They are very poor but have big dreams. Where kids in cities play computer games, go to malls, blow parents’ hard earned money and kill time, these children of Batad work very hard to earn that extra penny which help them and their family in many ways.
Fifteen years old Elmer who carried our bags for going to Batad, offered his services as a guide as well, when he learnt of our plan to do hiking. During our hike he told us countless things about his village and its people.
The money he earned from us (PhP 900) would go to his father to help him buy rice for the family of six. When I asked him what he wants to become after finishing his studies, “a soldier”, prompt came the reply.
Batad village has just one primary school. So after that, most of the children go to Banaue for further studies and stay in boarding schools. In a later post, you’ll come to know why they can not commute daily. These children also know the importance of money and have acquired the skills of doing business.
Elmer’s friend Rambo was equally enthusiastic. He too carried bags and became guide for two women. His sister carried a large backpack to Saddle point to pay her college fees.
They were all in the village for their Christmas/ New Year holidays.
Another teenager I would like to mention here is also named Elmer. He studies in Banaue and doubles up as a skilled wood carver. During holidays he helps his father in earning a little extra. His hard work and sincerity moved us so much that we ended up buying one bagful of wooden artifacts from him.
Since he could not leave the shop at that time, he promised to bring the things at our hotel that night. He gave finishing touches, climbed those steps of terraces and was at our hotel at 9 PM holding a torch (electricity is scarce in village). He was totally drenched in rain but had saved his creations.
Tech savvy as they are, he is now a friend on my Facebook.
I salute these children for what they are.