Our Exposure to an Indigenous People’s (IP) Community
By Francis Esmetalda, Member, Provincial Team on Social Apostolate
“Our challenge…must be to sustain, serve and give hope to our world, especially to the suffering humanity.” This line from the explanation of the icon for the Social Apostolate (SA) resonates my personal experience and reflection during the exposure of the SA Provincial and Regional Teams.
As a response to the call of animating the Social Apostolate (SA) as a key that must permeate our life, the Hijas de Jesus- Indico-Pacific Province organized the joint exposure for the Provincial SA Team and the Regional Core Groups on August 10-11, 2018 in Brgy. Tina, Hamtic, Antique. Together with Sr. Georgita P. Hormillosa, F.I., we were 12 in the group, composed of the following: 3 from Metro Manila, 2 from Panay-Guimaras, 3 from Cebu and 4 from Mindanao. The participants of the joint exposure were warmly welcomed by the F.I. sisters and personnel of Colegio de las Hijas de Jesus on August 9, 2018, the feast day of St. Candida. Our group was given an orientation by Sr. Gette in the afternoon of August 9. The final preparations (packing foodstuff, etc.) followed right after the orientation.
We left early in the rainy morning of August 10. Upon reaching Hamtic, we were told that the only means of transportation that could bring us to Brgy. Tina was through the “habal-habal” (motorcycle). This was the first challenge that we had to face in going to the exposure area. At the same time, it was an opportunity for us to experience more closely the life of the IP community. Thanks be to God, our group arrived safely in Tina Elementary School. There, we were welcomed warmly by the school principal, the teachers, the students, some barangay officials and the host families. After a short program and after having lunch, we were then introduced to our host families.
Our short stay with our host families allowed us to have a glimpse of their simple lives: their means of living, their family and communitarian life, and their dreams. Like real members of the household, we were able to help in preparing the food, taking care of the children and the elderly, manning the sari-sari store, tending their domesticated animals, and other tasks. Our exposure experience also allowed us to see both the “poverties” that the community is experiencing and the different signs of hope present in them. Despite the difficulties in life, they hold strongly on their love for family, they strive hard to improve the quality of their life, and they give much importance on education as a means for their children to have a better future.
The sharing and processing of experiences and reflection was done the day after our exposure. It was a time for us to see the conversions in our attitudes (like getting rid of biases with the “ati”, growing in sensitivity towards our way of relating to others, less obsession with order and cleanliness, being more open to the realities presented to us, having a deeper understanding of the SA). It was also time for us to confront our own attitudes that make us resistant to the experience and the SA.
As we end our exposure and as we go back to the realities of our respective schools and centers, we bring with us the challenge of truly living out of the SA in our daily lives and of influencing others to do the same. As in the words of Sr. Gette during our orientation “to those who hunger, give them justice, and to those who have, make them hunger for justice.”