Second day in Lake Sebu with John Robshaw

10. 21.2011 Second day in Lake Sebu with John Robshaw

After being lulled to sleep by someone singing karaoke to the tune of the Titanic Theme song (yes, Filipinos love to sing!) the day starts with a child's sweet voice singing in his native tongue, he is on a boat possibly on his way to school. He sings as if the whole lake was his stage - with the father paddling as if it were an accompanying instrument.

Mornings by the lake is one of my favorite times  and yet again, we were blessed to have the sun out and shining enough light to create a mirror image on the water of the lush surroundings. The stillness of the lake was soon disturbed by our canoe as Manong Eric took John and I out around the lake. Waterlilies were in full bloom and John kept clicking away. I made a mental note to do a capsule collection inspired by the waterlilies. I got to paddle a bit and the serenity of the surroundings made me do my movements in slow motion as if not to disturb the sleeping tilapias!

Speaking of Tilapia - in Lake Sebu, you get to try 101 ways of eating tilapia. The previous night,I made John try Tilapia Kinilaw, Grilled Tilapia, Sotanghon Guisado which I am sure had Tilapia hidden somewhere in it and we rounded up the menu with  a bottle of San Miguel beer. For breakfast we opted to try Tilapsilog - fried tilapia with egg which was surprisingly quite gratifying. We also got to feast on the fruits we had picked up the previous day.

After breakfast we loaded up the books that were to be donated to the awaiting habal-habal. Habal habal is a motorcycle modified to accommodate more than 2 persons - this is commonly used in Mindanao as other vehicles cannot stand the rough and steep mountains on the island. So off we went on the motorcycle through a scenic route with crisp cool wind blowing on our faces which made the heat of the sun bearable. The long full day officially began.

It was a thirty minute ride to the little town of Klubi which is perched on the side of a mountain where we donated short story books to the elementary school. As soon as we arrived, the assistant principal started pounding loudly on the gong as if it was waking up the whole village. Right before us, all the students started lining up in a very disciplined fashion then proceeded to the open air theatre where a small program was going to be held.

While waiting for the location officials to arrive, John and I mingled with the students. John at one point started calling out all the grade levels and the students excitedly stood up to be acknowledged. Finally we were asked to take our seats on stage where we were once again treated to some tradition T'boli dances and a welcome song that was so enchantingly sung that a smile was plastered on our faces the whole time

We were asked to speak and John shared an inspiring message on his love for reading and how through books he got to know and travel to other places. There were 612 students and John gamely agreed to distribute to each one, even taking time out to choose certain books which would would appeal to the student.

While John was distributing the books, I got to talk to the students and took pictures that captured their excitement as they devoured the pages of the books. I look back and remember what a special time that was for me personally.

After we had toured the classrooms and said our goodbyes, we were sent off with a bunch of very sweet bananas that helped tide us over till lunch. Since we were in the area, it was time for John to visit the weavers. The first time I met John, one of the first things he asked me was about abaca and the past three years, he has sourced from the weavers I work with. Luckily, the cooperative was in a flurry of activity when we arrived as weavers came to submit their rolls of t'nalak. John was able to pick out a few rolls from the cooperative before we headed down to meet more weavers.

One of my favorite weavers is Subi - she is the Lipstick Bandit - as promised from a previous trip, I brought her a new tube of lipstick which she quickly applied before posing for a picture with John at the same time she went into a litany of phrases which turned out to be a charming marriage proposal to John.

Next on the list was Yab, who graciously prepared for us some boiled cassava which we enjoyed eating while chatting with her. Yab is beautiful, and speaks shyly in a soft voice. She is one of the most best weavers I know. John, by this time, had a growing number of rolls purchased from the weavers.

Everyone was hungry and so we finally headed out to Punta Isla for lunch by the lake. After ordering crispy pata (deep fried pork), and a selection of Tilapia dishes and grilled egg plant, we were served a refreshing lemongrass tea and had an added treat when a guitarist came by - he became John's personal jukebox and we were treated to a long playing album.

Leaving on a jet plane

After lunch, it was time for me to get some work done with my embroiderers. I had warned them that I was bringing along a guest and much to my surprise they had prepared a program and even laid out a rug with some pillows for John and I to sit on! I am truly blessed to be working with such sweet, wonderful and very creative people!

On our way home, the route took us through streams and newly planted rice fields glistening after a light afternoon rain shower. We passed through a bamboo bridge, and while the motorcycle drivers confidently said they could easily go on the bridge, John and I insisted on getting down. As soon as we stepped on the bridge, around 6 kids who were hanging out by the bridge started to playfully jump up and down, the bamboo bridge started swaying, they were obviously testing our balancing skills!

After a visit to another weaver and my brass maker, the day ended with a quiet dinner by the lake.

Words are not enough to capture the experience in Lake Sebu but I've shared a glimpse of the fullness of each day that John and I had and hope that more people will venture out to the south and enjoy the warm hospitality of the T'bolis.

Mabuhay! Len Cabili