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  • Development Work and Culture in the Rural ~ A Journey to a New World

    Friday, November 1, 2013

    Development Work and Culture in the Rural

    Doing development work in the Philippines is a humbling experience since it gives us the opportunity to help our fellow countrymen. I'm a physical therapist by profession, but there was something in me that finds development work a daunting and fulfilling experience. I was able to serve and do volunteer work in the local and in abroad in which both left remarkable and special place in my heart. After my volunteer journey in Tajikistan, somewhere located in central Asia, I decided to involve myself again in the same field back home. Along with the national government and other private partnership, it also serves as an avenue for ourselves to immerse to the way of life of those who live in the far flung areas; places that are unfamiliar, yet with so much promising things to offer.

                                      Having fun and breathing the fresh mountain air with a colleague.

    Occasional rain does not stop us to keep us moving

    I was designated as a Community Facilitator in Tinglayan, Kalinga, a 4th class municipality situated in a mountainous area in the northern part of the Philippines. It takes almost a 9-hour rough ride on a top loader  type of jeepney from Baguio city which where I lived. When I started my job as a CF, the local government and the community were already in the last phase of the development project so most of the task was already in the documentation and monitoring stage. 

    Putting up concrete-footpath along the sides of the rice terraces was one of the local project that I was monitoring together with local counterpart officials of the community. This pathways would be of great help in transferring and transporting the agricultural products efficiently from one place to another in the community and to the main road.  

    Reaching the other areas of the community would need rigorous amount of walking...

    ...passing narrow steel bridges in Palang-Ah Falls.

    ...but with the help of the concrete footpath walking would be a breeze.

    Aside from the usual community meeting with the local counterparts, I also got the chance to experience some of the practices they had. Almost 8 months of staying and living with them gave me a good grasp on their way of life.

    Animal husbandry and agriculture are the main means of their livelihood. The surrounding mountain terrains were carve with rice terraces and irrigation system was built to keep the flow of water from the natural water resources such as falls and rivers. 

    During harvest season, the locals gather in the paddy to collect the rice plants; a joyous event that almost similar to other festivities in the country. Adults and children alike help hand in hand in gathering the bountiful blessing from the heavens. Rituals are also held to thank the higher being and to ask blessing for the next harvest season.

                                                             Younger folks doing the play.

    Although modernization abounds the agriculture field, the people of Tingalayan still prefer the traditional way.
    They use wooden-made mortar and pestle to separate the grain from the husk. I have tried doing it myself and I must say it needs a lot of strength just to pound a few.

    The tapuy or rice wine is also one of their products that are marketed in the nearby provinces which could be given as gift and souvenir. Its taste and alcohol content are almost similar to the commercial-made wines but less cheaper.

    My stay here in Tingalayan does not only added to my experience as a development worker but what was  far more important was the once in a lifetime experience to live the life in the rural and to be able to cherish and to treasure every moment that would last forever.




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