“Unsa na imo year ‘te?” (What year level are you now?), a SULADS student – a teenager boy posed while we were walking. I was borrowing a knife from their school kitchen, he was keeping me company.
“Ah graduate naman ko. Gatrabaho na. 3 years na.”(I’m done with my studies. I’m already working now for almost 3 years.), I replied.
He asked my age and I obligingly told him. Then he said, “Dalia ra ninyo mahuman noh?.” (Oh, you finish studies fast). I thought I was just on-time.
He further pointed he was leaving his teen years but still in High School. I was stunned to reflect their condition, to be more sensitive, mustered a smile and said, “Mahuman ra lagi ka!” (I believe you will graduate in due time).
I then went on with him to the visitor shed, we the volunteers were staying in, to help prepare our breakfast before the day’s descent.
CONNECTIONS make us CARE. And what we care for, we do something about. This dialogue was my CONNECTION with SULADS students and maybe all other IP (Indigenous People) students ROTA is helping. I may not be able to support him all throughout his studies like I try to do with my brothers, but I hope in the littlest chances we’re able to talk and the meagre goods or amount we’re able to give each time we hike hours up to their school in the remote mountains of Quezon, Bukidnon, I being with ROTA will continually be able to motivate him and his classmates to continue studying until they successfully graduate from High School.
I find myself carrying that connection until now, especially when I volunteer. That was more than a worthy take-home from SULADS.