Shown above is Kai-Lin Kalas, a 5-year old Alangan Mangyan girl living in the highlands of Mayba near the upper portion of Amnay River. Beautiful yet she would not make it in any beauty pageants when she grew up, for sure. Or be on television or in the movies for that matter.
Neither she could be an academic someday but can be intelligent in her own indigenous, ingenious ways. She does not have to draw life’s meaning by outshining in certain scholastic discipline or from publications and citations as what the renown academics did, but she can surely find personal happiness in the meaning that her roots have created and be relevant for her contributions to humanity and her ancestry. It this sense, she’s still a lovable child hereafter.
In reaching adulthood, Kai-Lin, together with the tribal elders and other Mangyan dwellers would participate in Agpamago, a ritual of prayers for bountiful blessings for their community. It is a profound prayer asking for the enjoyment of inner peace where the written laws and the limit of science would not dictate the existence of man’s life.
Kai-Lin cannot afford to be like the raised like a princess and debonair Serena Marchesa to marry the most handsome Simon Vicente Ibarra (nee Tenten) who now owns the Marchesa’s ancestral villa in Askovia. Kai-Lin will definitely avoid, when time comes, the highly mechanistic society where citizens want to find explanations for everything that affects their lives like the characters in telenovelas. Human life, for the soon-to be woman of simplicity like her, needs not be measured in having the information on how everything works.
Someday, in the darkest of the night, Kai-Lin would sing the same lullaby sang to her by her mother while as a baby she sleeps on a hand-crafted native hammock. Telling stories she learned in school when the moon is shining in its fullness above the skies. The nourishing milk that flows from her breasts is understood only as a nurturing substance but so clueless on how colostrum works for her child.
In the meantime, the sweet little girl Kai-Lin and all the beautiful yet murky children of her age in geographically isolated areas have to take hours of barefooted walk, though accompanied by their parents, are exposed to dangers in the terrain especially during rainy days or at night, back and forth as pre-schoolers at Rang-Ayan Elementary School in Barangay Proper of Pag-Asa in Sablayan town. They already have a school building back in Mayba constructed 5 years ago and could accommodate all the pre-elementary pupils there but the Department of Education-Division of Occidental Mindoro still failed to station an additional teacher with permanent item to Kai-Lin’s place. With very high probability, Kai-Lin and her classmates would end up as drop-outs as their parents would later arrange their livelihood than being idle taking care of their little children away from home and from their economic base. Like many of the parents before them, their children’s education would ultimately not their priority.
Somewhere inside the school compound is boldly printed: “Education for All” but nothing is mentioned about its accessibility….
(Photo : IPAO File)