He smiles when leading us up in the mountains, even having more than 60 years, he walks like a 20-year old boyscout. He shows us the nature of Bohol, one of the Visayas islands of the Philippines.
The Loboc river has this kind of blue water you only find in fairy tales, or in the Philippines of course. A turquoise lane of blue divides the jungle in two strokes of astonishing dense palm trees and any other kind of tree you can imagine.
Water and Electricity
A little boat takes us to the other side, ready for a jungle hike of a couple of hours. What’s interested as well is not only how nature crawled on the mountain, but how human settlers have done it before.
Proudly he appoints us the electricity wire at the shore of the river, which goes up the mountain. Electricity for the villages on top of the mountain, he says. Even along the small path along the river some street lighting pops up out of the blue, like a lost man-made tree in the middle of the jungle.
We continue the road, aware of the electricity grid going around the mountain. A bit further he will again stop and show us another wonder of the government: potable water. A water pit is installed aside the river, to pump up ground water. Tubes transport the water along the hillside to the villages on top of it. Water and electricity. They have both now.
Fact, when we arrive at the village on top, he showcases the water source of the village, a source of tap water in the middle of the village. Fresh and clean, ready to drink.
But even if the villagers would be comfortable with water and electricity here, there is another treat which has hit the Philippines hard in the past, and due to its position along a Faultline and its volcanic underground.
‘It was 8 am on a Sunday Morning,’ he started the story. You could see the sky getting dark in his eyes, as must have been the sky those days. ‘That was the worse timing of all, you can understand,’ he said. Frankly, it took me a while, before linking the high level of Christianity to the timing of the 8 am Sunday Morning masses. ‘The church collapsed,’ he said. All were in there. Many people got injured, and many lost their lives in the tragic Earthquake.
‘I was at home,’ he continues the story, happily he survived and did not get harmed. ‘But the earth did not only shake vertically, but horizontally as well. It was tough to hold on.’ So he hold on, and so did the other Philippinos. Immediately after the disaster they started rebuilding what was lost. Brave and persistent.
‘You know, people started constructing their houses out of concrete and bricks, heavy materials,’ he continued his analysis of that day. ‘If the earth shakes and you are beneath the bricks, you can get injured. But the wooden houses, if they collapse, the impact is less.’ He analyses half lost in his own thoughts, watching the nature around us, the bamboo trees, the natural building materials.
We continue the road in the jungle, crawling around the mountains. Until we reach one of the bath caves. He is happy, takes out his plastic bag. ‘I’m taking home some bat poo,’ he says with a big smile. For the rice fields of his neighbours. For his own garden. ‘Bath poo is one of the best fertilizers,’ he says with sparkling eyes. Organic fertilizer, I think, which brings me back to the story on the road to Banaue. ‘Happy flowers,’ he says, ‘happy me,’