Girl from the barrio

If you’re following me on Instagram, you’d notice that I am on vacation in the Philippines. After surviving the chaos of Manila for a few days, we went to the island where I grew up, Marinduque. My internet connection has been very limited here in the Philippines but I’d like to share some photos of the place where I spent most of my childhood.

Banana leaf umbrella.

It’s been raining since we arrived and that means that the roads going to the barrio become more difficult than they already are. There’s only one jeepney plying this part of town so the most common mode of transportation is the tricycle. I don’t remember it to be so bad but now it has gotten worse. How bad? If you are pregnant, chances are you would lose your unborn child riding the tricycle than walking (about 3 hours) to town. The tricycle couldn’t go faster than 30 km/hour.

This is how corruption makes people suffer. In the above photo, you can see where the concrete road stops and where the dirt road begins, patches of unfinished roads because some corrupt officials stole the funds or the cement. It is a common sight in our province.

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People make do with what they have. Fortunately nature provides, not very luxuriously but at least they don’t have to go out begging on the streets. As long as you work hard, you won’t starve. But there is more to life than just getting by. Sadly, not many of the people living here would realize that.

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I grew up surrounded by this greenery. Living in the city for many years did not make me lose my “mountain legs”. I did not slip while trekking in the slippery, muddy, mountain sides. My husband said he couldn’t imagine my childhood here and that I have turned into a real city girl. I told him, I can be flexible like that.

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This is how we eat and drink coconut. You sip the juice straight from the fruit through a small hole. You use the spoon made out of the husk to scrape the meat.

When I was a kid, my cousins and I would spend summers on a little hill planted only with coconut trees and eat and drink to our hearts content. I can still tell if sugar has been added to a canned coconut juice or if it has been sourced from a young or an old coconut.

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This is an old mango tree in my aunt’s backyard. There were also caimito (star apple) and citrus trees that I used to climb but they were cut down because of the danger they pose during typhoons. This is the only one left. The joy of climbing this tree again was priceless.

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And the river I used to frequent together with my friends here. Oh the fun that we had here. We would start frolicking in this river early morning and wouldn’t go home until way past lunchtime or until our parents picked us up, more often than not, chased with a stick because we didn’t want to come home.

Sadly this river is toxic and people are advised not to swim here. The waste from the Marcopper mining sites overflowed to this river, killing the ecosystem that thrived in this river and leaving toxic wastes in the riverbed. They did not clean it up. Now, thousands of kids are robbed of the fun of jumping, swimming, catching fishes and snails in this river and precious memories that it has given children like me.

Photos by myself and Robin Kuijs’ Moments that Matter.

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