We would like to take this chance to thank everyone who has taken a trip with us! It has just been a few months since we’ve started our journey as Spiral Sun, but your trips with us have already made a big impact on several communities here in Camarines Sur – especially GK Taligra in Siruma.
There is a small yellow post-it on our bedroom wall that reads “Save Siruma”. It has been there for almost a year now. For one whole year, we would stare at it, trying to figure out how to make it happen.
Siruma is a municipality very much disconnected from the rest of the province. Although less that forty kilometers from Tinambac (which is just about an hour from Naga), the trip could last you four to five hours on land. It is a slow and gruesome ten kilometers per hour through unfinished roads, mud, water and holes in the dirt. But at the end of the road is a beautiful town, practically surrounded by water – San Miguel Bay on one side and the Pacific on the other.
GK Oceanview, a community of a few dozen families, sits on top of a hill in Taligra. It’s the perfect spot to appreciate the beauty of our country. It’s also the perfect spot to sit and reflect on the many places that still need to be reached by clean water, good roads and a steady current of electricity (among other things) in our country. Being the most difficult GK site to reach in Camarines Sur, it has become priority to rebuild and revisit.
A year ago, the only seemingly productive things that were happening were insistent calls and messages to friends in Manila, to GK HQ and to God. Tears of frustration, moments of doubt and bouts of stubbornness were not uncommon among the team. For a moment, even I thought it wasn’t going to happen. I thought we’d never reach Siruma.
But perhaps it was just a test of patience and our trust in God. GK volunteer, Bem Olaguera, who was once upon a time assigned in Bicol, decided to make the rebuilding of the sites a campaign for the province. He designed a poster last November with hopes to raise funds for the rebuilding of Siruma. It helped in raising funds – but more importantly, it raised awareness and interest as well. It raised the spirits of the team too. Having something very visual sparked the interest of those who might have never known of the movement, the province or the town of Siruma. It was much more attractive than the post-it on the wall.
Little by little things started getting better. GK National sent support and so did some friends. By April a date was set. GK CamSur’s community organizers, a wildly amazing bunch of young, passionate people, many of them new to the work, started getting their feet wet in the villages. Together with the fulltime workers of Bicol and a few volunteers, they discovered the beauty of Siruma first hand. Upon hearing their stories, one can’t help but feel the natural high their experiences give them. They were setting up what would be the most meaningful four days for GK Taligra and for the almost two hundred kapitbahayan that volunteered to build.
On another front, the mancom of GK CamSur was constantly burning the phone lines – calls made to mayors, to the PDs, to the source of materials. The titos were busy organizing their teams and figuring out the logistics. A few days before the trip to Siruma, the titas went to the market and bought enough to feed the sure-to-be-hungry service team.
All efforts made by the local team though were matched by the efforts made by our kapitbahayan from around the province. Teams from nineteen villages were mobilized, men and women of different ages, willingly left their homes and their families for a few days to rebuild the homes of others in need. Bayanihan at its finest – with some of the kapitbahayan riding boats for the first time, some not sure what they’ll be eating throughout the build, but all very willing to work for the families in Taligra. The residents of Taligra were just as selfless, taking in the KB of Pinaglabanan and Tagongtong into their homes and sharing their meals.
We speak of being our Brother’s Keeper. We talk of the challenge given to us to love the poor. We mobilize the youth to take on the challenge to live for our country. GK volunteers willingly accept the challenge. But it is overwhelming when you see the response of those from the villages accepting the challenge as well. It was there in Siruma that the love of our kapitbahayan manifested itself in the sweat they poured into the rebuilding of the community. Having wealth in years or in money is not a prerequisite to be our Brother’s Keeper. Our kapitbahayan are all in the process of transforming their own communities and working hard in providing for their families. And yet, they chose to go. They chose to serve, armed with faith – faith in God, that he will provide for their families while they are away and faith in the transformation that could and will happen in Siruma.
The work is far from over, but knowing our communities are taking on the challenge to love and serve as well is a sign that we are getting closer to the vision of 2024.