The Ivatans know the key to joyful living. Contentment. Have faith in God and in people. I see it in their eyes. I hear it in their stories. I feel it in their smiles. I can hardly believe that it’s already my day 4 in Batanes and yet I have not shelled out a single bill for my lodging and tour. Ate Fe’s guests are bugging her to settle their accounts at the end of each day and she tells them not to worry and that it can be done later – meaning before they get on the plane to leave. Even I, who got to Batanes without hotel reservations, have not paid any deposit since I spent the first night in Ate Esther’s lodge and hence insist on paying so I can manage my expenses. We can leave our belongings unattended and no one will touch them. We can leave doors open and no one will intrude. Where else in this country can we live this way?
There’s…Aling Eling, a farmer turned tour guide for the last seventeen years. She is able to send all her children to school despite going home with only fifty centavos in her pocket one time. Lola Elena, owner of Honesty Coffee Shop, makes the Lord her security guard and trusts her customers to be honest enough to drop their dues at the counter. Lola Matilde sells fresh coconut and tubho tea at Tinyan Viewpoint until she runs out of stock or until the last visitor comes. She offers free taste of tubho and lets me wear her vakul, a native headgear made from Philippine date palm. Tricycle drivers like Joseph accompany riders to points of interest even if it entails parking their trikes aside and going on foot over the hills. Elderly women in Chavayan Village weave vakuls and finish one in a week. Golden girls sweep fallen leaves in the town plaza and greet passersby every morning. Lodge owners team up with tour guides. Fishermen only take what they need from the sea. How I wish that there are more contented lives in generations to come!
Philippians 4:11-13 – “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”