Live Like a Local Day. Oh, what a day. It started at 7:00am when we all excitedly gathered in the dining hall for breakfast only to be told that we would be living like the locals. Instead of the usual luxurious breakfasts from the past week, we were greeted by a bowl of lugaw, the staple meal here in Cabacungan. Lugaw consists of rice, water, occasional meat and sometimes a pinch of salt. There were no smiling faces and many unfinished bowls.
Without haste, we set off on the bus to the rural community churches to hand out the food packs we had prepared two days ago. The heat, along with the negative overall mood of the group, made it hard to smile and realize that we were making a positive difference. However, we continued to all three locations and proceeded to lunch. Lugaw. Again. This time, there were fewer unfinished bowls as the group had begun to realize that without the meals, their energy was depleted. It was at this point we were notified of some news that would make out day even tougher. We would be continuing the day on foot in the midday heat.
We walked up and down the hills to IRC where we distributed the last of the food packs and created a festive atmosphere with balloon animals, bubbles and pipe cleaner creations, although it was a challenge as our tummies were grumbling. Afterwards we hauled our wash bags full of dirty laundry to the dam where we washed our clothes. We all climbed down the rocks and began to wash when it started to pour down with rain and the group’s positivity rocketed. And of course, we had a sneaky swim after we had finished. And again, we packed up and trekked back to IRC where Pastor Steve gave an gut-wrenching speech regarding the IRC members and some of their stories as well as his own.
We ended the night with dinner, however, not in the usual dining hall. Instead we separated into groups of three and were invited into the homes of the locals where we shared a meal together. We asked questions and shared answers, subconsciously comparing the two different worlds. After that experience, we all finally understood why we spent the day living like a local. It was not to make us feel guilty, but to show us the reality of the Filipino lifestyle. We headed home and as usual, and ended with a debrief after the emotional day.
Nathan and Siobhan xx