BE LOCAL

Home Grown

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A series of stories from the lumadnons (locals) of Siargao and the silver linings of tourism.

by Charles Paul E. Alimpoo | Photos by Charles Paul E. Alimpoos

This half-Cebuano, half-Siargaonon hybrid spends most of his time listening to Lana Del Rey. Growing up on the island, he wants to raise awareness of the importance of employment to the locals. Being a licensed professional teacher at twenty-three, Charles manages to teach full-time, manage a bar on the weekends and teach Siargaonon Language on the side. If he had 20-20 vision he would probably be the best surfer in Siargao.

The laid-back environment; the perfectly breaking waves, glistening in the rays of the sun, crashing into the shores only to repeat its actions in an eternal bliss are only a few aspects of what makes Siargao, Siargao. But as visitors arrive in a whiff, so does their departure. What remains are their footprints in the sand, and of course: the locals. So how do these lumadnons (locals) live in an island dubbed as the dream destination?

Because of a vlog viewed by thousands of people worldwide, Barangay Maasin became a venue for numerous tourists who seek adventure by swinging on the picture perfect coconut tree. Located twenty kilometres from General Luna, the escapade also includes a fifteen minute boat ride up north from the river to a secluded stream with a fitting monocle-secret lagoon.

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After a year it was officially opened, the lumadnons shared the benefits while enjoying working on Maasin Enchanted River.

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Caryl Jane Coñado, serves as the manager. She says, “This job allows me to meet people of different cultures, different backgrounds from various parts of the world. It also feels like I’m travelling myself.” When asked about what surprised her the most about the changes to her workmates’ lives; she shares, “After a long day of entertaining visitors, these people go home with the biggest smiles you’ll ever see. Because no matter how tired their bodies are, at least they are carrying two to three kilos of rice to feed their children. If not for working on this site, buying rice would have been a luxury most of the people I work with can’t afford.”

Caryl happily shares that the money collected from the environmental fee goes to the development of the area while the boat fee and tips are divided fairly between every employee.

The majority of the people Caryl manages did not finish college. Generally, Filipinos believe that education is the key to eradicate poverty. So it is understandable how hard these parents work to send their children to school. “Now because of the volume of tourists coming in, especially in summer and during Christmas vacations, the mothers and fathers I work with can provide school supplies like bags and notebooks to their kids.”

According to her, on good days the guides and boat paddlers would earn 1,000 Philippine Pesos and no less than three hundred pesos on fair days. "This is the only source of income to most of us working here so you could only imagine how thankful we are for all the tourists that we cater for."

The locals may not have had formal education in hospitality, but the values instilled to them by their elders outshines any formal training in human relations. Values and morals innate to any Siargaonon, to any Filipino. After all, they are the sons and daughters of Siargao. These locals are nurtured by the resilience of the ocean. Moulded by storms and energised by lightning. Forever embedded in the hearts of every tourist they’ve cared for. They are lumadnons, they are homegrown.

Suriganon

Mga storya gikan sa mga taga-Siargao mahitungod sa marajaw na tabang nan turismo.

Storya ni Charles Paul E. Alimpoos

An pagka-kalmado sa lugar; mga bayod na dagko, nagilak-gilak kon ma-igo nan adlaw na magbalik-balik sa baybay kay isa sa mga rason na kon uno gana an Siargao. Kun uno kapas-pas an pag-abot sa mga turista, amo say ila kapas-pas pag-uli. An mabilin kay an ila mga ginid-an sa baybay sanan syempre: an mga lumadnon. Umay mga panginabuhi nan mga lumadnon sa lugar na tagtawag na “dream destination”?

Tungod sa video na tagtan-aw nan pila ka libo na mga tawo sa internet, an Barangay Maasin na bisan baynte ka kilometro gikan sa General Luna kay nahimo nan isa ka destinasyon nan mga turista tungod sa baliko na lubi na pwede bitajan. Apil sa pwede himoon kay an pagsakay sa baroto nan kinse ka minutos para makadto an sudlunon na bito na tagtawag na “secret lagoon”.

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Kuman na nagtuig na an Maasin Enchanted River, nangistorya an mga nagtrabaho didto kun unoy mga marajaw na na nahitabo sa ila mga kinabuhi.

Si Caryl Jane Coñado na manager kay naglaong nan, “Lingaw ini na trabaho kay klase-klase na mga tawo an ako makit-an. Amo rasab ako nan nag libot sa kalibutan tungod sa amo mga guests.” Matod pa ni Caryl na hamok mga karajawan ila nadawat labina sa mga pamilyado na bisan pa kon uno ka luja ila trabaho, basta kay maka uli na jaoy daya na bugas, mawaya an ila kaluja.

Tagstorya sab ni Caryl na an kita gikan sa environmental fee kay para sa pagpagana pa sa lugar pero an bayad sanan tip sa baroto kay bahinon nan mga trabahante.

Kasagaran sa mga katrabaho ni Caryl kay waya makahuman pag skwela. Saman amo-amo na lamang an ila paningkamot na makatrabaho sa Enchanted River para jaoy mabayad sa skwelahan labina sa mga amutan sanan makapalit nan mga gamit sa ila mga bata.

An kita nan mga guide sanan magbugsajay sa baroto kay jaon sa isa ka libo kon hamok tawo sanan dili moubos sa tuyo ka gatos kon mingaw. Dugang pa ni Caryl, “Amo ra ini an amo tagsaligan kay lisod an kinabuhi kuman saman amo na lamang jaon amo pasalamat sa amo mga bisita kay tungod sa ila, jaoy amo pangita.”

An pagkamarajaw sa pag-atiman nan mga nagtrabaho sa Enchanted River sa ila mga bisita kay sobra pa sa mga tagtudlo sa skwelahan tungod kay gikan pa ini sa ila mga katiguyangan. Marajaw na pagtagad sanan respeto sa isig-katawo na kilay-anan sa mga lumadnon nan Siargao. Sila an mga anak sa isla. Liwat sa ka-isog sa dagat. Listo maningkamot para mabuhi saman ganahan an mga turista magbalik-balik sa isla. Sila mga lumadnon, sila na diri nagtubo.

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