Field Notes N-11

In some sort of way, you do not choose a field site for your research, writing, or whatever illusions of place you have.

In my case, these are all the reasons.

I have known about this squatter’s place some two years ago when I was part of the movement to involve other ethnolinguistic groups in a widespread campaign for the Mother Tongue Based Mother Language Education.

A friend introduced us to another friend who introduced us to another friend, and that friend is a younger brother of a cleric of the Philippine Independent Church based in one city in the United States.

I know the cleric—a humble man who traces his roots in the Ilocos, the northern one. The cleric and I are good friends, very good friends, indeed! 

We were treated to a sumptuous buffet somewhere, in one of those posh hotels overlooking the city.

Beyond, towards the west, is a wide expanse of sea.

We were seated in one of those seats researved for the big people, and I was not.

So, I joined the group of fighters fighting for our freedoms, and here we were enjoying a sumptuous dinner the equivalent of which is a week’s salary of a small man of the city.

But that friend of a friend who invited us to that dinner was a big and important man who drew his salary from the government coffers.

We were sure he will have our meals reimbursed.

But, of course, we did not talk about it.

From where we were, I sauntered, and move out into the gardens that extended to the rolling hill.

There, I spotted shanties—huts—just a spitting distance away.

I did not ask anyone.

I just knew that here is a case of the contradictory.

I told myself, here it is, here it is. Eureka!

This time around, I have learned how to take the habal-habal—and have learned all the tricks needed in going from Point A to Point B.

The following morning, I made it sure to wake up early, did some lazy jogging, and eventually flagged a habal-habal.

Bring me to those shanties beyond that beautiful hotel up in the moutains, please.

What for, sir?

I just want to see the place up the hills and the houses below the hills. 

I live there, sir!

If there is serendipity, this was it.

And so, from this man, I gained entry to this place whose mysteries are going to be unfurled before gradually. Yes, gradually, by living in the same place. 

BSL, Las Islas Filipinas, June 24, 2013

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