Saturday, February 12

Greetings to the Church in Fremont (do I sound like the Apostle Paul? I started reading Corinthians). Some of my reflections:* Banaue is truly beautify. The rice terraces are magnificant – the 8th wonder of the world? Quite possibly. The greenery, the quiet (there’s still roosters in the morning). . . quite a restful and appreciated contrast to Manila.
* The Ifuga people that we did the mission are very isolated even though that are visited by many tourists. We took a wild hour drive to the top of the trail. There’s a Disney ride were you bounce around on rugged terrain. This ride was ten times worse with our heads banging the roof and sides of the car. We were in first gear the whole time, and sometimes when a car paused, it would slide because of the mud.
* Once at the beginning of the trail, we began our trek to the village. It begins with 412 stone steps down. It takes a Ifugan 30 minutes. They told us it would take an hour. Two of the missionaries did not make it. One fell and turned back. The other quickly realized that their legs were not strong enough for the trip. I escorted the 69 year old Pastor Stan. It took us 2 hours to reach the village. It took Pastor Stan 3 1/2 hours to come back up. The Ifuagans told us that if they don’t make the trip up for a week,they will struggle.
* The drivers are only willing to drive up and back once a day. Access to this area is very limited. If someone in the village needs medical attention, they must hike up the trail, and then secure automotive transportation in the afternoon. I don’t know what will happen if someone needs to be carried out of the village.
* The diet of the Ifuagans is extremely limited, largely vegetables. Lots of vitamin deficiencies. Lack of iodine is a serious problem along with calcium.
* The Ifuagans are very stong from all the hiking up and down the trail. Most amazing are the ones who carry supplies up and down the trail. One big guy (they say he eats lots of potatoes) carried the fifty kilo rice bag. We were not able to bring the other bags because no one wanted to bring them down. We donated the bags to the church. Medical supplies, toys and gifts and other food stuffs were carried on the heads of shoulders of the local people. They are like goats quickly moving along the step trails. Kids run up and down the paths with no hesitation. We Americans were slow and used walking sticks to make our way.
* This mission was mixed. The captain of the barangi (the political boss) wanted credit for this activity and forced us to operate within a very small space that they control. We were suppose to be in the school which would have given us more space, but that was not to be. Also, we only had two doctors which limited the number of people that we could see. Pastor Paul the missionary leader said that he needs to evaluate whether we can do a mission trip to this area again. The hike, the lack of support. . . Also, th