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Living with the Manobos
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by Annie Orteza, ACM student
First of three parts
 
After an approximate six months of daily and regular six-to-nine evening classes at the ACCM Building in Makati, our most awaited local exposure trip to a Manobo community came through.
 
I never knew that this trip will be as exciting as it has been. It was made of a combination of thrills, actions, humor and love. Everybody was blessed and saw the goodness and the glory of the Lord. Well, let us see why it was said so...
 
The Journey Begins
 
Upon arrival at the Davao International Airport, we were assigned to go to the Operation Blessing office to rest and fix our things. Early that evening, we went to our partner ministry for our orientation about the lesser-known Manobo subgroup* that we're going to live with. Dos and don'ts were discussed, as well as necessary precautions.
 
Early the next morning, we rode on a big truck for more than an hour, and then we transferred to a heavy-duty jeepney-type car that transported us to the lumad village in central Mindanao.
 
The trip was very smooth while riding the truck, but when we transferred, all kinds of thrills came through. We passed breathtaking stiff cliffs, rocky roads and rough mountain edges, but with a lot of beautiful and overwhelming views. All of us experienced body aches and over-fatigue afterwards.
 
Upon arrival at the village, workers of our partner ministry introduced us to the datu, to the leaders and to some members of the community who gladly welcomed us to the tribe. That night, we had a short fellowship.

Warm Welcome, Cold Evenings

The following day, Sunday, we attended worship service at the village's multi-purpose hall. All the tribe members welcomed us with handshakes, warm greetings and smiles. We were surprised to receive flowers from the children. It was our first time to be welcomed with flowers. As a sign of our thanksgiving, some of us offered those flowers to God by taking pictures of them with the Bible.

After the worship service, we were introduced to our host families. They accommodated us for five days in their homes. We were assigned to the family living near the multi-purpose hall. We brought them some food and other ingredients to be shared during meals.

Our first night with them was such a cold, almost sleepless, night because of the very low temperature. Their house is made of wood but it has no fixed windows. Cold air easily passes through, and that's one of the reasons why the temperature inside the house is very cold during nights.

Spaghetti in a Basin

One unforgettable experience we had with the tribe is when we cooked one kilo of spaghetti. They ate the spaghetti mixed with rice and they shared it with their neighbors.

When we invited a group of teenagers to join us, plates ran short, and so one mother got a basin and they shared the spaghetti rice and ate with their bare hands. I was so touched with the situation. As I watched them eat, there was no big deal about eating in the basin. Instead, they were so thankful to taste a spaghetti meal. I just thought to myself, is there anyone among the team who can eat spaghetti mixed with rice in an old basin?

*For security purposes, the name of the Manobo subgroup is withheld.

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A single Filipina who has been shy and sheltered all her life finds herself teaching English and the Gospel to hardened convicts in Thailand's prisons. She sees them breaking free of the chains within their hearts.