Last Friday was a fun and interesting day for Feyma and I. We spent the day entertaining some guests who are in town, Kevin Smith, and his wife Bebing. Longtime readers of this site may remember Kevin, when we first converted to a multi-author platform, Kevin was a writer on this site. I had never met Kevin in person before, until recently. During the time he was writing on the site, he was living in the United States. Kevin and Bebing still live in the United States, but are currently visiting the Davao area. Kevin is a middle school science teacher, and teaching is something that he is very passionate about.
For Friday, Feyma, Kevin, Bebing and I decided to take a trip to Samal Island, just for a getaway. We wanted to show Kevin and Bebing where we would be building our house, and also just enjoy many different sites around the island. Anyway, this article is not about our visit, but particularly about one event that happened during our time on Samal.
We had stopped to explore the Samal White House, a nearly 100-year-old house, that is a landmark on the island. It is very near to our property, and a place that we really love spending time. While we were exploring the area there were some other people around, working on the house, doing some landscaping and such. We spent a lot of time talking with these people, just getting to know them a little. As we were leaving, a young girl started walking toward the area where we were. I thought she was maybe around 10 years old, but as it turns out she is 13. It was midday on Friday, so I asked her why she was not in school. She could not speak English, but I was able to converse with her in Bisaya. She told me that she’d quit school after fourth grade, so there was no school for her. After she said that, a conversation broke out amongst all of us and we were really urging her that she needed to go back to school. Her response was that there was no money available, so school was really an impossibility for her.
Bebing said that her mother, who lives in Digos, about an hour from Davao, was looking for a helper in the house, and in addition, her mother is a school teacher. So, an offer was made by Bebing to Mae that if she is willing to go to Digos and help around the house, she could go back to school. She was excited with the offer, but of course, at 13, she would need her mother’s permission to do something like that. Feyma, Bebing, and this girl (her name is Mae) headed off to talk to the parents. Their house was not far away, just walking distance. The mother was a little reluctant, Mae is the oldest child, and it would be hard to see her go. But, the father encouraged the move, wanting his daughter to be able to get an education. So, it was decided, Mae would go with us.
At the time when Mae joined us, and was ready to leave, it was quite touching. Her mother was in tears, and Mae’s eyes were welled up with tears as well. I’m sure it was very hard for May’s mother to see her go. Kevin and I were talking about this, and thinking to ourselves, how much different our culture is from theirs. I can’t imagine some stranger showing out and taking one of my kids with them, I wouldn’t even hear of that. Frankly, it would be unfathomable. But, Mae’s parents realized that it was really her only chance that she would get ahead in life, and they accepted that.
When Mae joined us and we left, we had quite a talk with her. We found out that this was the first time she’d ever been inside a car before. In fact, she’d never left Samal Island before, and had actually only been to a very small part of the island. Almost everything we did that day was the first time for Mae. It was fun witnessing her amazement at so many things. When we rode the ferry back from the island to the city, she was quite shocked, I don’t think she knew that there was such a thing as a boat that could carry a car. She was a little bit scared with all this, but overall more amazed than scared.
When we got home, Mae was shocked at the size of our house. That didn’t surprise us, because her house was only about 8′ x 8′, and they had a family of six people living there. When we got home, Mae also enjoyed probably the best meal she’d ever had before. After the meal, she even had ice cream, the first time she’d ever had that before too. Mae stayed overnight at our house, and on Saturday morning Kevin and Bebing took her to Digos to start her new life.
Before leaving, Mae asked us if it was okay if she came to visit us from time to time, and of course we said yes. Even though we only knew Mae for a short time, we’d grown attached to her and close to her, as if she was our kid too. I hope that she gets a good education, improves her life, and can even help her family improve their life as well.
Good luck Mae.
UPDATE: I got a text message from Kevin and Bebing yesterday afternoon. It seems that Kevin was contacted by Mae’s mother demanding the return of Mae, because her mother misses her. So, Kevin and Bebing will be bringing Mae back to Davao later this week, and returning her to Samal. It’s too bad, because this was an opportunity for Mae to end up living a better life. Unless things change in the next couple of days, it seems that this opportunity will be passed by.