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I’ll be back, Mintapud

01:27 AM March 29, 2016

“THE MINUTE we look around us with natural curiosity, the moment we attune ourselves to appreciate what’s immediately in front of us, we open up to spacious new vistas.” #Project Happiness

It was just a dream—a dream experience, a dream adventure, a dream hike, a dream like no other. Mintapud had been a “word” I wanted to write about, a “place” I wanted to visit, a “life” I wanted to experience even briefly. The dream came true last Feb. 24, when I and my fellow teachers embarked on a fervent culture-adventure-nature journey. We were to help the people of Mintapud—a sitio of Barangay Hagpa, a Higaunon community, in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon—in our own little way, through a community outreach activity.

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Our journey began with a drizzle. We traveled by motorcycle up to Nobenta—a place 90 kilometers from Agusan. Such glorious moments when we continued the journey on foot at 2:25 p.m.! I marveled at the vast rice fields and greenery before me. I loudly breathed the freshest air. I savored the cold wind. It was exhilarating!

At first we were talking and laughing out loud, snapping pictures. Then it became quiet. I could then imagine what a challenge it is for students living in Mintapud, or any other far-flung place, to go to school. I salute you, dear students!

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We became too quiet. Either we were too exhausted to talk or the serene surroundings silenced us. I think it was the latter. It seemed like if we said a word, the flora would wilt. The tranquility was infectious.

In the middle of our journey, others lagged behind for one reason or another. I was in the group that chose to accept the challenge of getting there first. As it is with life, some people will arrive ahead, and others will take the journey slowly. No one is obliged to explain their way of travel. What’s more important is getting there—if there is really “there.”

Minutes before arriving in Mintapud, I got so excited that I found myself running. This is life! Then I saw the sign: “Mintapud Anay Ha Nauwa” (Mintapud Elementary School). Finally! I looked around me and saw majestic mountains, simple houses, smiling mothers, curious children. I felt the cold wind stirring the pine trees.

We got to Tulugan, the tribal cultural center, at 4:15 p.m. and were warmly welcomed by Amay Mantangkilan Cumatang and the residents. After a brief rest we went on a tour of the community. Truly, it’s one of those places that define the word “simplicity”—no mobile phone or Internet connection, no electricity, no fancy store, but with a whole lot of the simple things that matter.

At 7 p.m., Amay led the  singampu. Culture and tradition are at their best when experienced firsthand. Then we ate our simple dinner and packed the stuff for the next day’s outreach activity. We slept on the wooden floor. It was a night when my blanket was my best friend. We hugged each other till 6:30 a.m.

The morning cold had me shivering but it didn’t stop me from experiencing the ice-cold water on my skin. My bath took three minutes!

On Feb. 25, the 30th anniversary of Edsa I, we exercised our “freedom” of giving. Nothing can beat the smiles and gratitude we received from Mintapud’s people. It was a fulfilling moment that I believe will be etched in our memory forever. We headed home taking with us a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a lingering feeling of fulfillment, and a happy back pain.

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Madakel ha salamat (Thank you very much), Mintapud! I thought you’d tell me a story. I found out you—your people, your nature, your culture—are a narrative I can write about and a beauty I cannot appreciate enough through my words. I’ll be back for sure!

Zynara G. Sareno, 24, is an English teacher at Kalabugao National High School in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

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TAGS: Bukidnon, opinion, Project Happiness, Teacher, Young Blood
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