ICARE Tarlac

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Writer: Mayako K.

Editor: Justin S.

In ICARE Tarlac, we went to a village in the province of Tarlac, called Bueno. In this village, we engaged in several activities and interacted with both the community and the local elementary school. On Monday, we first arrived at our place of residence, Peniel, a religious retreat centre. We were greeted by extremely gracious hosts, who provided us with a delicious lunch before we headed off to Bueno.

To arrive at the village, we had to cross a large river. Thankfully, being a less rainy season then, the river wasn’t as deep as it would be during other times. After arriving at Bueno, we exerted ourselves in the grueling and exhausting task of rice planting for almost two hours. While rice planting was very physically taxing on our bodies, especially because the mud was difficult to move around in, it proved to be an incredibly rewarding experience. Junior Annika A. said that “while the weather was not ideal and it was very strenuous, it helped us understand the plight of rice farmers here in the Philippines and all the effort that goes in to produce a staple crop for us.”

After the planting session, we interviewed the people in the community and learned about their struggles with dengue cases, and the lack of proper medical care available to them. Specifically, we discovered that the community tries to maintain a plan of prevention, since they are easily cut off from Tarlac City, and thus cannot afford to treat dengue patients. With this in mind, we set about to return the next day and teach the students at Bueno Elementary school.

At the school, we split into three groups to teach the students three different subjects– Science, Sports, and Arts & Crafts. We worked with K to 7 kids for an hour everyday from Wednesday to Thursday. This teaching experience was not only enjoyable, but also very enlightening, as working with kids from a different socioeconomic background helped us understand some of the more prevalent issues that are rampant in the Philippines – especially regarding the poor quality of education and the mistreatment of the indigenous people.

Towards the end, we enjoyed a fun-filled afternoon of replete with carnival activities and dancing with the students and teachers. In the closing ceremony, to show their appreciation for us, the kids even gave us candles and sang us a beautiful song. As a whole, the whole trip was extremely fun and the group as a whole bonded quickly through our nightly games and kwento sessions.