And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children. And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
- Kahlil Gibran
Sombrero Island Kids
In Sombrero Island (Aborlan, Palawan), I noticed these two boys walking around holding on to the front part of their shorts to prevent the cloth from touching their privates.
"Tinuli kami kahapon!" they declared to anyone who cared to listen. (We were circumcised yesterday!)
Cyrus is the silent one. He hardly smiles. He wants to be a soldier. Mark Anthony is more animated. His aspiration is to be a policeman.
Strangely enough, a Balete tree towers inside the tropical isle covered with coconut trees. The kids kill time under the shade.
Al-Sharief and his Mohawk
While we were looking for the burial site of Prinsesa Tarhata Kiram, a royalty of the Sultanate of Sulu, in a graveyard at the border of Jolo and Patikul, this young Tausug was loitering and following us. I took his photo along a row of tombstones and struck a conversation with the lad. Probably one of the most gentle people I have ever encountered.
He wants to be a policeman.
The Face behind the Window
I had met her earlier in one of the bahay-na-bato houses in the heritage town of Taal. It was a brief encounter, as most interactions often are in the course of daily life. When it was time to go, she positioned herself at the large window made of wood and capiz, and gave me a long final look to send me off.
The memory lasted longer than the actual meeting. The power and magic of human connectivity are undeniable.
Yin-Yang. Mantigue Island Twins.
"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears." - Kahlil Gibran
While leisurely strolling around Mantigue Island, a lush four-hectare islet fringed by reefs and white sand just off the main Camiguin behemoth, I came upon the twins playing in a beached bangka. The children were part of the 20 families or so that made up the small fishing community that drew its livelihood from the sea. As I approached, one burst into laughter. The other became distraught. Two different reactions to the same situation.
I returned to Mantigue around 2015, 10 years after my visit, with the intent to take an updated photo of the twins, only to discover that several families from the fishing village had been relocated when the entire island was declared a marine sanctuary. I heard that the sisters had moved to Anda in Bohol. They should be in their early 20s by now.
I wonder how life has treated them. I would like to see them again and see how things have turned out. I wish them more reasons for joy than sorrow.
The School Amongst the Clouds.
A boy stops for a photo on his way to a school which sits at one of the peaks of the mountain range that separates Saranggani and Davao del Sur. Grand Mt. Matutum is almost at eye-level from this vantage point.
Children from different neighboring baranggays in the municipality of Malungon walk as much as three hours everyday to get an education, crossing valleys and navigating 14 inch-wide trails with steep vertical drops on one or both sides.
Teachers who come from nearby General Santos city, mostly stay in for the week to avoid having to make the daily traverse, returning to the city only on weekends but ensuring they are back in the school by Monday morning.