This is the second installment in a series of my recent trip to Manila, Philippines.
On January 15, 2011, I traveled From Iligan City in the south to Buguias, Benguet in the north. I had a traditional Filipino breakfast of fried fish and rice to fortify myself for the long nine-hour bus ride from the capital, Manila.
Why travel to Buguias, Benguet? I traveled there to meet with the foundation’s homeland partners who were introduced to me through our diaspora partners in Tel Aviv, Israel, halfway around the world. Many of our diaspora partners in Tel Aviv hail from this town nestled on top of the Cordillera mountains which top around 10,000 feet above sea level. It felt that the mountains were almost touching the sky.
Myrla and I met with Mr. Sixto Cubangan; he is the father of Daisy Beth Cubangan, one of the Filipina community leaders in Tel Aviv, Israel. Sixto and the other elders shared with us their plans to have wheelchairs, walkers and canes to help the elderly and the invalid in their town. Many of them do not have these basic equipment; so many are immobile and isolated at their homes. Daisy Beth and the other Filipino community leaders in Tel Aviv are planning to support this project. They are currently conducting a raffle draw to raise funds to buy the wheelchairs and other medical equipment.
The foundation’s diaspora donors from Israel brought me to this spectacular mountain town. This visit significant for me as I realized how Filipino workers are so spread out all the world.
I cannot help but reflect on Daisy Beth and her situation as a Filipina caregiver working in Tel Aviv. She came from a green mountain valley with cliffs carved into terraces and planted with vegetables and rice which is a contrast to the dry and desert landscape of Israel.
I’m sure Daisy Beth misses her family. But she could not go home since she has to finish her work contract in Tel Aviv and perhaps she also could not afford the trip going home. I hope that Daisy Beth feels that she traveled with me vicariously and that I bring her closer to home.
Heavy fog suddenly covered the entire Loo valley by the time I finished my meeting with the elders. So I did not get to see the entire valley since we have to go catch the last bus back to the main town.
Like Daisy Beth, I already miss Buguias. I plan to be back.