FACES OF ILIAN



Philippians 2:3-4

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."




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I was given a chance to visit Legaspi, Albay because of work. So armed with my ever reliable camera, I traveled down south anticipating to meet a lot of native people who will be happy to be my subject.


Since it was my first time there, I felt compelled to go to the Cagsawa Ruins to see the famous Mayon volcano at the same angle with those pictures I often see in books and postcards. I took a number of landscape shots, but I was not contented with my photos. Still, I was yearning to see faces of filthy children and the elderly that exude a strong character.


So I dragged my colleagues and asked around where to find tribes we could take pictures of. We were then informed that there is a tribe residing in the nearby town of Iriga, where people are friendly and approachable. Good thing, our work was extended for three more days so together with my co-workers, we started our adventure to search for that town. We went to the local’s department of tourism to ask for directions and to notify them of our intention in taking pictures of the tribe. We were warmly accommodated by the personnel and so we left the department very thankful and excited. Immediatly, we drove to the land of Ilians, which was located just fifteen minutes away from the town proper.


Before we went up to meet the them, we bought some goodies to give to the children of Ilian. When we have finally reached our destination, we saw the children suddenly stopped playing. All of them looked at our vehicle with a look that says, "Who are these strangers and what do they need from us?" We got out of the vehicle and looked for their leader. One lad gladly accompanied us to the house of their chief. When we arrived at his house, he was resting so the people needed to wake him up. We worriedly thought he would get annoyed because we bothered him from his sleep, but instead, he welcomed us and allowed us to take photos of the place and his people. Indeed, the chief was hospitable, living up to what Filipinos are known for.


When we were about to take pictures, the children were daunted by the size of our cameras. They immediately ran away and hid inside their homes. Their parents encouraged and reassured them that it was safe to mingle. After a while, the children stepped out one by one to have their pictures taken. Soon, they felt comfortable around us so they all followed us as we explored the tribe. We saw how the children of Ilian were joyfully living their simple lifestyle.


Time had passed very quickly and dusk swept away the light. Also, rain was about to fall so we decided to pack up. Before we left, I stood in the middle of their basketball court; and the children surrounded me as I distributed packs of candies, cookies, and chips.


Yes, meeting the Ilian tribe was truly pleasurable. The little money we have spent for goodies were paid off by heart-warming smiles of gratitude from little children; and not to mention – wonderful portraits of the Ilians. I have seen wonderful sceneries in Bicol that were picture perfect, but I must say the photographs we have captured with the Ilian tribe made our journey really worthwhile.