If those five days were words they would be my mantra. The sun, the sand and the sea was good, but it doesn’t come close to accidental friends.
Almost three weeks ago I bounced from home and flew to Manila and hung around for almost two weeks. I came home to rest for three days and jet-set for another chase;
But I didn’t expect this to be quite life-changing.
About ten volunteer teachers from Cebu came to Malapascua on a lazy sunday afternoon. The air was surprisingly heavy and humid for the island, but it was a tinge of something special wafting through the dense. The funny thing is I came as a singing teacher and I have no idea how to teach kids how to sing.
But the thrill was worth it; I sat in Therese’s singing class and she’s stunning- she can pull off an Ariel without being half-fish. Up until then I sat singing with them until I went outside and tried something that would probably fit my skill set, so I moved to Erin and Donna’s Arts and Crafts class. They made cute origami sea creatures.
Here they made these cute woven bracelets from yarn and other recycled materials. I sat there and painted a school of fish and a turtle, and learned afterwards that cutting a crab isn’t the easiest thing at all.
I’ve painted my fair share of walls. But I think this time was a wee bit different. The story behind that little boy I made squatting in thin air was something really special, it squeezed me for tears on the day we ended the program.
Nico did the wall outside. It was much bigger and it looks prettier. If I was a kid I would love to go to school because of the happy-looking wall. I think it was like 10×50 feet? I’m not sure. But the kids and everyone who helped made it in less than five days- an impressive feat.
The heart in doing all of this was the kids. Because of this episode, I’ve decided that I cannot become a teacher. I’m pretty awkward to little girls, and I feel like a molester whenever I try to talk to them so like, I should just probably stay away
But the little boys! I see the little myself in them! They were young and restless and eager to do something. They would come really early in the morning and we would finish last. These elementary kids finished three walls in four days. They wouldn’t eat at lunchtime cause the wanted to paint. With the sun beating down on their heads it wasn’t too hard for them to not stop. Or stop at all.
The Boy in the Mural
Audrick bullied around other kids the first day we came; he wanted to paint so much, he tried to push away other kids who want to help with the wall. But in those five days, he was always the first one to show up, and the last to go. Audrick wasn’t only that enthusiastic, but he was good. He blended fishes. He mixed colors. And I couldn’t even do that! But he did. He knew what he wanted to do so he did and he did it good.
We heard about him and I was curious to see him. So I went over to the wall and saw him paint with impunity, and I could agree that he was good for his age. There was a third empty wall we wanted to fill so I asked Laurie what to put, we decided and I went ahead rough sketching. As I did he was painting furiously in the other wall slab. I took glances at him trying to follow his face –
On the last day of our stay, Laurie brought him to the wall and asked him if he knew who the kid in the wall was. Laurie told him to look at the boy’s eyes, the hair, the eyebrows- She said Audrick smiled ear to ear and said, ‘ako!’
Until then there was this kind of genuine, real smile from a child that could never be taken away. It made an imprint in my mind, and I would keep it until I die. I told him to never stop drawing and to draw everyday.
I was happy that we made a difference in these kids. They weren’t like the city kids who grew up cynical and uninterested in things like these. They were eager. They were happy and simple and their joy was to run to the sand and the sea. And they had that right in their hands. The island was theirs.
I was happy that for once in my life I’ve did something to turn around other people’s lives. I was happy that a ragtag group of volunteers who were strangers from the start came to be special friends who shared a magical week in a paradise island, doing something worthwhile for humanity. I was happy to know that even these kids might grow and forget our faces but they will never forget one summer when city people came and gave them something they didn’t know they had.
I wanted to cry as we left the island. It was too perfect. The sea was a mirror glancing right back at me as the waves argue with a sense of finesse and perfection- I felt so close to nature and to the core of the human spirit in those five days. I felt genuine. I felt that I was part of something bigger. The gestalt thinking. The sum of all the parts.
I found friends who were as golden as the sunset I’ve found in the island. They were priceless. I woke up this afternoon missing them.
The ride home was breezy, I slept through it all.
We ended the week with Party 9 – the 9th installment of parties at Keisha’s. It had always been epic but last night was the wildest. I went straight from Malapascua island, took a shut-eye in one of the coffee shops in the local mall, and went straight to the party with all my bags with me. I couldn’t miss out a thing.
I just woke up from a six-hour sleep and I’m writing down my thoughts. I spent hours contemplating what to write down but I’m too lazy to write it on paper but I’m trying to scrounge it all up to share it to all of you.
I would like to thank SPS for giving us the opportunity to change lives. Miss Anna Oposa, Chief Mermaid- I still love that title.
This might be the official start of my chilling out in summer- Three weeks of traveling was enough. If only I could sit down and just.. doze off. I should. Ciao.