Its pretty amazing where serendipity can take you…. I posted an image last week of Boracay, Philippines on Instagram, and a local photographer shortly contacted me after viewing the photo.
We started chatting about the commercialization of this beautiful island resort. She also emphasized, though, that only 20 minutes away exists such unimaginable poverty amongst so much of the Philippine population. More importantly, she noted, the majority of foreign tourists, comfortably relaxing inside the bubble of Boracay’s white sandy beaches, are completely oblivious to such disparity.
The Ati villages of the Philippines are one of the most extreme examples. Through my contact, we were able to meet the Ati’s pastor, who showed us around, giving us a glimpse into how they live day to day.
These villages are in fact pockets of families located throughout the country, much like the native indians living sporadically across Canada.
After a motorbike ride through 30 minutes of back country roads, the pavement immediately transformed to dirt, as we preceded into the undergrowth and thick jungle finally arriving at Pastor Martinez’s church and adjacent home.
The biggest issue facing the Ati people is the lack of work they face due to discrimination, he explained.
They survive by selling mere trinkets and rice (if they haven’t already consumed it themselves), as well as catch fish with their brown weaved baskets. To our shock, the villagers told us that we were the only foreign tourists they have ever met, besides the odd European missionary.
We saw 3 people seriously sick, diseased ridden animals, and families as large as 6 living in bamboo shacks no more than the size of a 8×8 Uhaul.
Needless to say, this was a very sobering experience for us. We were able to fly back to Canada and continue to live on our cell phones and play Xboxes.
The villagers we left behind solely live to eat.