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02 November 2017 Disconnected

Written by: Yedda Marie Magbanua

As part of our #NationalVolunteerMonth2017 celebration this coming December, we are featuring the nine winning entries of our Volunteerism Story Writing Contest. This is the the winning entry from Region V .



I ignored the vibrating device in my pocket and continued packing my stuffs.

Lets Marvin Gaye and get it on.

We've got that feeling that we won

The bubbling irritation in my blood made me snatch my phone out, set it on silent mode and hurl it on the bed. But its screen doesn't cease in blinking in and out. It displays the time.
10:01 am, and the digits covered almost all of my face used as wallpaper. Just the quiff of my
brown hair was revealed.

I ran out of choices. I grabbed it back and ended the incoming call, only to see seven unread messages in the notification panel. They were all from Drew, one of my mates.

" Padi, magdigdi ka sa arong atyan. Uyan na san ang pinakabirthday gift mo sako.Expect taka dre'. By the way, ininvite ko man palan si Patricia"

(I'm expecting you later at my house. Man, that's the only birthday gift you could give
me. Don't worry dude, I've already made an arrangement so that Patricia could come)
My phone landed on the same spot when I threw it again. This time the half-eaten apple
logo is on the top, disabling me to see more messages and calls if there were any. Partying with girls and raising wine glasses with my mates are really appealing but Melanie and all the other kids out there were waiting for us to return. And I'm sure I don't want to let them down.

Mayaw Payawan is a remote area in Milaor, Camarines Sur with barely inaccessible roads, rocky terrains and untouched mountains. Most of its residents were farmers and fishermen and almost all didn't even have a formal education. The children were clearly unaware there is a bigger world out here, multiple times larger than their grassy meadows and dusty playgrounds. But still, I'm choosing them over a chance with Patricia.

As we traversed through kilometers of uneven roads the thought of Drew's wine party visits my head, yet the idea of giving those kids some food packs, those teens some kind of an education and those parents a source of hope, made me forget the weight of my bag towering behind me. I almost lost track of how heavy the bundle of assorted foods and gifts have
bothered me earlier.

I am a part of an organization that is so eager in touching and changing lives. We're bit by bit instilling to people that there's an escape from strife. We can make it a zero in poverty.
This is the Association of Bicol Business students, and no one here, would be too weak to go back and attend a birthday party instead.

The ABBS has done this many times before and that kept me going. I have to see that our efforts would not be wasted. I have to see how the people we talked to have changed their lives.

Three more kilometers to go.


The sun is almost halfway down the horizon and soon enough, the grass-roofed houses came into view. The silhouettes of the town folks attending to their duties became visible and the children playing hide-and-seek lifted my spirit. This is the kind of place which manages to stay alive despite being shut out from the rest of the world.

I have only realized that we've arrived when Melanie come running to meet us halfway on the road.

" Kuya Charly, kuya Charly, may ikekwento ako sayo.Puno na alkansiya ko!"

("Charly! I have something to tell you. My piggy bank was already full!")She shouted in joy.

I can see happiness printed all over her face. It is lighter than Patricia's despite the sunburnt face and carelessly-tied hair. Her smile was almost identical to the rest of her playmateslooking up to me. Those were all genuine. Their eyes shone out with excitement and joy. Who
could have known I could get happier here than with Patricia?

The rest of my squad went to talk to the family leaders and check the progress of the targets and goals versus poverty that we’ve planned with them. I contented myself in sitting around with these boys and girls.
Although Melanie has started playing with my braces, we were able to sing some songs.

The voices of the kids collaborating to mine sounded unimaginably surreal. I'm sure no device could ever measure how my heart thumps with joy as I see each of their lips mimicking out the lyrics in time with me.

I taught them simple hand games. I made funny faces. And both sent them all into a chain of musical laughter. Just listening to it made me forget about the pain, the war and the hate, where the world out of here rotates.

" Kuya Charly, Kuya Charly, paglaki ko, gusto ko maging teacher. Tapos tuturuan ko din yung mga estudyante ko ng ganyan." ( "Hey Charly,Charly! When I grew up, I want to be a teacher. I will teach my class that
thing you're doing with your face.") A girl with a tight pink ponytail remarked.

"Ako, gusto ko maging pulis, kagaya ni Kardo kuya Charly,”
("I wanted to be a Police like that in the TV series")Carlo, a boy of eight butted in.
"Gusto ko maging kagaya mo kuya. Tutulong din ako sa mga mahihirap."
("I just want to be like you Charly, I will also help those in need")

Soon, everyone was speaking about their dreams. It was amazing that they all have theirown. A beautiful future awaits them if they only have the chance.

" San nyo ba balak mag aral ng College?"

("Where are you planning to take up College?" )I asked to no one in particular

A few fell silent.

" So, para makapag aral tayo, tutulungan natin sina nanay at tatay. Dadagdagan natin yung ipon natin ok? Ganito, sa susunod na punta naming, paramihan tayo ng naipon. Yung may pinakamarami, may premyo, at yung piankakonti sasyaw at kakanta ng maraming beses, Okey?"

("So that we could be in college, let's help our parents, Ok? We will save up. Let’s make this a competition. Those who will have the most savings will receive something from us, and those who will have the least will sing and dance. Is that a deal?") I added.

The smile returned to their little faces.

" Opo!" They shouted in chorus with a series of clapping of their hands and stomping of their feet.

I forgot about the party. I totally forgot about Patricia.
My phone remained silent, cold and still in my pocket. Time crawled by.

I stared at the faces of these kids singing the last song we've chosen. There's so much more in this world for these children than being chained by the fact that they can’t pursue their dreams. They can help this world change for the better. And without anyone willing to help, that would be difficult if not impossible.

The children’s high and low pitches mixed up good in the introduction of the song.

"Life's a tangled web Of cell phone calls and hash tags I don't know,
And you, you're so caught up
In all these blinking lights and dial tones
I admit I'm a bit of a victim in this world wide system too
But I've found my sweet escape when I'm alone with you
Turn off the static sound of the city that never sleeps."

Melanie and a girl of her age stood from their spots and handed me a piece of crumpled paper. It's partly of their nervous grip and of the long time being kept that the material became so violated out of its rights.

"Here in the moment in the dark side of the screen". the singing continued.

Their innocent raw voices play consistently in the background as my eyes became blurry upon reading the words handwritten in the piece of paper.
In this small zone, untouched by twitter, hotel lives and fast food chains, in this tiny space free from traffic noise and factory smoke, I found the most valuable treasure in the world.

"I like the summer rain
I like the sounds it bring
We put the world away
We get so disconnected"

I stared at them again. They've reached the chorus of the song and they were having a miniature competition in making their individual voices be heard.

Now I'm not sure if they still needed some education against poverty. They were rich.

They were already rich because they can give anyone a tremendous amount of joy just by the reality presented in their eyes. They can share something that no amount of money can buy.

"You are my get away
You are my favorite place
We put the world away
We get so disconnected."

My connection to the world out there was broken and in place is the imprint of this small town whose existence remained unknown from the majority of the population.

And I can't be more thankful to be disconnected.

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