In 1976, I was then ten years old young. My family was driven back to Masara, Maco, Davao del Norte from Suricon Mining, of Nonoc Island in Surigao del Norte, after two years of transition period, when the Samar Mining Company stopped its operation in Masara.
During the transition period, my father jumped off to Surigao where Suricon mining, in Nococ island ,opened up hiring to employ drivers and miners. The place or the situation was very different from Masara, where we used to live.
Nonoc island is situated Surigao, where ocean surrounding it. Normally it is rich in sea foods. People there had no problems of viands as fish were so cheap, otherwise we eat rice with grated coconut. Houses in the place were made of bamboo and walled with “Nipa”. We rented a small house which we fondly called “NARRA” meaning all in one room thus: (in Visayan language) “Narra diha mo kaon, Narra diha matulog, narra diha magluto, Narra diha mangihi and Narra diha tanan.”. Since the place is prone of typhoon, usually when it rains, the “Nippa” or “Pawod” roofings flies off by strong winds accompanying the rain. So everyone sleeping in the evening would be awakened by multiple lightning shots with deafening thunderstorms. Of fear, we all ran out and jumped off to the ground bruised and muddy, because there was no stairs. It was a terrible life. Therefore, I longed to get back to Masara.
Masara is a cold place, typhoon free area as protected by mountains. Although the mountains deprived people to see the sea water. but hot waterfalls were springing and rivers were flowing. The most visited and loved is the beautiful hot spring. The place was then rich of fruit trees such as banana, papayas, avocados, guavas, mangoes, “guavano”, “santol”, and more, were freely bearing left and unattended. The veggies like “Gabi or “karlang”” sayote, were just sprouting everywhere , in the streetside and riverside. Ferns or nutritious “Pako” were rampant in the place. We can also see wild Cherry trees commonly called “Mansanitas” where birds make it as their haven and sanctuary and feast its fruits every morning and early evening. The sound of the crickets serves as music to the ears at night time. Looking up to the skies, hawks and ravens would greet you flying from one end of the mountain to the other side. The same scenario and view that I have seen in Masara before, and when we got back to the place..or it is even more beautiful to my sight.
I sang and danced of Joy like a little bird back again to the wild. We were housed first in the 24-room-bunkhouse No. 5, where we first lived, with the few families occupying some rooms. My heart leaped when I saw red wild cherries at the backyard, like birds I see glory when I pick more red cherries. Early morning I went to the river side where we used to play and swim in the very cold and crystal clear water falls. Piling rocks at the side was the first thing we did to make a pool so we can swim. In the same area there were fruit bearing avocados where beneath the trees were rotten fruits fell on the ground. It was unattended or no one assumed owner of it. I always brought sacks with me and picked those fallen fruits and dragged it home. I scheduled my days in a week. I had time to go to the other side of the mountain to get some banana fruits. Because I could not carry it by myself home, what I did was buried it covering dried banana leaves and would take it after two or three days when I believed it’s already ripe and ready to eat. There was also days when I would go farther and get some “sayote, taru or “Karlang”/gabi, and other veggies that can be taken freely from the ground where it sprouted and grown.
My mother too was very happy seeing our kitchen full of fruits and things that I freely gathered from the surroundings. My father was delighted of what I was doing. I felt I was a “Jungler”, that I love to go to the mountain everyday and find anything that I could bring home. From the rising of the sun to sunset, I would be out of the house and back home late in the afternoon, dragging sack full of many kinds of fruits and veggies. That deed was fulfilling for me having helped my parents in my own way.
I was addicted to go to the mountain everyday and I even considered it a Jungle. I learned to climb trees, I felt like wonder child carrying sack of stuffs that I have collected. With those children of my age and some were older, we found it very enjoyable to climb avocado tree, guava tree, cherry tree, pomelo tree, mango tree, santol tree and more. I was the only girl among the guys, but I wore boy’s shorts and shirts, my hair was very short that I looked like a boy also.
We swam onto the river when the current is not strong. we took off our shorts and shirts and some of the guys were naked and had one piece only, the underwear, and had the swimming topless since my breast was not yet mounted, then jumped off onto the water After which wandered again farther without direction, consuming the hours for adventure.
There was a time that we reached to the crater of a volcano, where there were boiling lava and really hot that could even cook an egg. We tried cooking sweet potatoes and ate it half cooked. It was a wonderful discovery and we had fun on the volcano
Wandering farther, as we’re all very curious, when we encountered holes we checked what’s inside. Sometimes we can see snake eggs, some eggs of Iguana (locally called “Halo”) and eggs of Monitor Lizards (locally called “Ibid”). We knew that eggs of the reptiles are just like chicken; so we cooked it and had fun eating those eggs of poor iguana. I considered eating wild and exotic food terrible, that i could not even imagine how I was able to take it, for it’s a big Yakks for me now. We even chased to catch frogs and dressed it and cooked it on fire, then ate it without seasoning or just even salt to taste.
Each one of the group had always the slingshot (“Tirador”). Under the trees we would find a perfect moment to have good strikes to shoot any birds that would fly over and landed on the branches of the tree. We would bring home those poor impaired birds, dressed then cooked it in adobo style or fried. We had so much fun eating as we invited and even asked children to eat with us, then we became many in the group to go and have fun wandering in the mountain.
The adventure was great just like small birds flying freely in the wild without anticipating what would happen to them anytime and anywhere, just to keep wandering for curiousity, joy and freedom.