Woke up at around 2:30 AM once again, but this time, I wasn’t so sure if I’d attend the training. I went online for a while to check if my other classmates would attend and, to my delight, they weren’t attending. So, I went back to sleep and had a good night’s rest. In a blink of an eye, I find myself in the immersion area enjoying the chicken my mother cooked for us. The other immersionists were also there and we were having fun chatting and bonding with one another. After quite some time, a white light starts piercing my field of vision. I opened my eyes and I find myself back in my room. It’s morning already and everything I saw and experience for what seemed like the past few hours were nothing but just a dream!
I hear the horn of our car, apparently returning from sending the package to the meeting place in school. I hurriedly took a bath and got myself ready to leave. While preparing, my mom was quite surprised to see me in the house. She apparently thought I attended the ASSF training and had already sent the food to my classmates. I received a text from my partner telling me to just meet them at ALMACEN since they’re about to leave the school already. I forgot where ALMACEN was so I had to asked a couple of my classmates where it was. Their directions weren’t all that clear though.
I praise God that we had GPS in our car, so I inputted ALMACEN and it guided us to our destination. I was practically nervous the whole trip since I absolutely cannot miss this immersion day. After a couple of minutes, we arrived at ALMACEN and just in time for the closing prayer. My classmates saw me arrive and gave me a shameful applause. It was quite embarrassing, but, hey, at least I got there in the nick of time. We said our prayers and left for Tawan-tawan.
I met up with my partner Jam and was surprised by the package my mom brought for the immersion. She apparently cooked one Tupperware of pork adobo, two tupperwares of fried chicken, three tupperwares of rice and even brought a bag of clothes for the family. She really outdid herself this time. Everyone was jokingly commenting on how we are going to have a feast in our house. I was so proud of my mom.
The trip to Tawan-tawan was a bit quieter than last time, probably because most of my classmates were riding in a different jeep. Most of the conversations done inside the jeep were made by the education majors, which was fine by me as well. I don’t know why, but the trip seemed shorter this time than it did before, but maybe it’s just my imagination.
We arrived at Tawan-tawan and everything was just like before. Not much really changed, but somewhere somehow, a part of me seemed to expect that there would be changes in the place, but there wasn’t really. Maybe the first trip left me wishing that people there didn’t have to go through what they’re going through. Anyways, I just felt a bit sad this time.
We eventually met up with our family and didn’t really know what to do. We gave them the bag of clothes we prepared and we just chatted about random things and later on, started taking pictures once again for the family profile. They told us about the river down the slope and we asked for permission if we could go there. Apparently, the other immersionists also planned to visit the riverbank so we met up with them and hiked downhill together.
Due to my haste earlier that morning, I wore a different shoe than the one I used
the previous immersion, as a consequence, my shoe was busted and in no condition to hike downhill a steep slope. Luckily, my partner had an extra pair of slippers and was willing to let me borrow it. Despite its feminine color, I had no choice but to use them if I ever want to see the river for myself.
The hike was okay at first, but as we journeyed further on, the trek increases in difficulty. The ground was a bit rocky and highly slippery at the same time. I was afraid that, if I continued on, my partner’s slippers would give in and snap, so I took them off and continued the hike barefooted. It was pretty gross, how your foot would sink into the mud and be covered by God knows what, but, at that point, I didn’t really care. I just wanted to get to the river and get it all over with. It was fine at the start, but as the journeyed carried on, the sharp rocks are starting to take a toll on the sole of my feet. My feet was starting to get more sensitive to the rocks on the way and the thought of having to go through the same path on the way back was definitely not helping at all. During that time,
I wanted to quit and go back, but I didn’t want to waste the distance I’ve already travelled, so I kept on going and telling myself that I’m almost there. Just a little bit more. The trek was really dangerous and one wrong slip and they’ll be looking for your mangled body on the bottom of the riverbank. My knees were already starting to shake, probably out of the fear of falling to my death rather than the pain or exhaustion from the trip, but I had to carry on. The end was in sight, just a couple more steps and we’ll be crossing the hanging bridge already.
Slowly but surely, we arrived at our destination. Gratefully, I thanked God for not giving me any blisters or wounds during the hike downhill. The feel of the cool water
running against my dirtied tired feet was nothing less than ecstatic. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but it really did feel great and was well worth the trip. The water was, in a way, shallow, but the current was still strong enough for you to feel it brushing against your leg with full force. We crossed the river and stayed there for a while. After around 20 minutes, this guy started to ask us to gather up and listen to his speech. Apparently, he was from Davao Water District, I think, and he told us about the importance of the river and how it’s still safe now, but if factories continue to release their residue and chemicals down the river, it would destroy and ruin it.
After his speech, we packed up and went back to our respective
houses. The trip back was definitely easier than the hike downhill. The ASSF training we took for the past Saturdays was a great help since it strengthened our legs a bit, just enough for us to get back up on the village without feeling too much exhaustion. I was also able to wear my partner’s slippers during the hike this time and was able to keep it clean until the last part where the road really got slippery and I had to firmly step on the muddy ground if I wanted to live a bit longer on this earth. Other than that, the whole trip back was fine. It did leave us hungry which was great since it was around noon when we got back and just in time to eat our packed lunch with our respective families.
We went back to our family and prepared the food for them, after that, we said our prayers and digged in. We ate lunch and chatted for a while. My partner brought coke
and hotdogs with marshmallows, the whole thing really had this aura of a party. Our family really enjoyed the food we brought and seemed like they had fun. After we had finished eating, we told them that they could keep the leftover food and so, we help them transfer the food into their own containers and cleaned up the mess we made. Afterwards, since there was still time, we went to the karaoke place, with their permission, and sung our hearts out. The other immersionists were there as well, and were prepared this time, bringing a lot of 1 peso coins. We kept singing until the jeep arrived, so we went back to our families, packed our things, bid them goodbye and left for the jeep.
The trip back was definitely much quieter than last time. Everyone was apparently exhausted from the hike to the down the river. I was pretty much sweaty and didn’t have an extra shirt to wear due to my tardiness earlier that morning. Luckily, my classmate brought the t-shirt I lent her last time with her and gave it to me. Problem solved. All in all, the trip was fun and memorable. Especially the river trip, I’ll never forget that one. I enjoyed that day.
That’s my foot when we arrived at the hanging bridge, also proof that I actually did hiked barefooted. The journey was definitely hard and dangerous, you would stumble, you would fall, but all that’s left to do is get back up again. In a way, I experienced a bit of their lifestyle during that trek, of course it’s not really much compared to what they actually go through, but it was more than enough for me to realize the difficulty of their way of life.
Every day, or maybe once or twice a week, they have to carry all their laundries with them as they hike the dangerous road. That’s hard. We were already having a hard time climbing down with nothing in our hands, how much more if you have a heavy basket of clothes with you? I realized that no matter how hard the trials and tribulations you are facing, there are still people out there who have it worse than you. But even if you face the worse and most difficult problem there is known to man, know that it isn’t the end.
Lots of times, I slipped, I stumbled, fell with my hands hanging on to dear life. In life, you will encounter such things, and in those times, quitting seems like the best option there is. Hope is far from sight, and giving up is like the next best thing. You start to ask yourself, what’s the point? Is all this even worth it? Will the end really justify the means when you can’t even see the end? The future seems bleak, the sky is gray, and everything is just falling apart. You tell yourself you were destined to fail and fail from the very start. Depression starts to get the best of you and self-pity is stronger than it ever was before. You make mistakes and it seems like there’s no way of correcting them. You wish to blame people, but deep down, you know there’s no one else to blame but yourself. Because of your own weakness and incapability.
I’ve experienced such things, some even darker than others, but one thing is for sure: I may be knocked down, but I’m not out forever. There’s a saying, the night is darkest just before the dawn, but the dawn is coming. Things may not make sense now, but know this, the Lord is sovereign and He is in control. We just have to trust in Him, that if He puts us to it, He will see us through it.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
We just have to persevere and endure the pain, heartaches, heartbreaks and any bumps and bruises we encounter along the way.
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
No one said it would be easy, but be sure that it’s well worth it.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Just like the river at the end of the trail, the end will justify the pain it took to get you there.