SHE SAID it was a crucial journey for her children’s future.
Weeks before classes opened last month, Myrna Verde packed few clothes, gathered her four school-age children, and boarded a bus for Manila, some 138 kms from their village in Zambales. It was their first time to travel that far from home, but Verde, 57, had a mission: to look for kind-hearted city people who would give her money or any kind of help so that her children — all blind since birth — could continue going to school.
THERE ARE about four television sets in Tinoc, a remote town in Ifugao Province at the eastern foot of Mt. Pulag. The TVs are powered by solar panels. But there is no TV or even radio signals in the area. The TV sets are used in conjunction with DVD players.
One would think that Tinoc would have a long list of wants and needs. But last December 1 saw the inauguration of a local law that is expected to change profoundly the lives of the people of Tinoc and the rest of the province: the Ifugao Reproductive Health Code.
HOME OF the Sultanates, sarimanok, and Islam: Visiting Lanao del Sur province of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is like going back to centuries ago, when women walked around gracefully in their malongs (traditional wrap-around clothing) and men who had betel-stained golden teeth played chess all day. But although being transported to a place that seems stuck in time could be soothing to a frazzled urbanite, the truth is Lanao del Sur is that way largely because it is one of the poorest provinces in the country, while ARMM is the poorest region in the Philippines in all indicators of human development.
M—’S EYES are closed, but the rest of his bronzed, chiseled features are tight and tense. His heavy, muscular frame, sprawled on a rough-hewn bench of thick pine slabs, seems suspended on his big-boned hands that are desperately grasping a little homemade bong. His thick lips suck furiously on a small bamboo pipe stuck into a disposable plastic water bottle filled to a fourth with water, now swiftly turning green.
DONATELA is a lyrical Italian name, and when I reach past the pain and bitterness of my childhood, I can see how perfectly it fits my beautiful mother. For many women, beauty begins fading quickly almost as soon as the first flush of youth ends. But my mother, who just turned 70 this year, has been lucky, because there are still more than traces of the physical radiance and attractiveness she once possessed, most of her well-chiseled features on a Castilaloy face defying time and a past filled with heartaches.
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