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Stay in School! Not Easy in the Philippines

Education is Very Important But Hard to Get

Sometimes I hear Kano say, "Stay in school!" They say these words with a smile on their faces because they know that education is very important. Well of course, we know that in the Philippines too. But really this is not easy for so many of us.

I have included a picture of the "main street" of the village where I grew up in Samar Province. It is a very beautiful place that some people think is "paradise."

But there are no roads there. Also no electric and only one little CR for my entire family of more than 100 people.  There is no mail service there and no doctor of course.

Main Street BurabodYou will not starve there if you are not tamad (lazy), because you can fish in the dagat (sea) and eat fruit from the trees. You can also drink coconut alcohol lol. Some people there drink too much of this!

The village school has only first grade. After that, you have to take boat every day across the water to another barrio on the island. Remember, I told a story once about a girl who drowned in third grade because the boat was in a storm. The school in that barrio goes to fifth grade.

Then you have to go to another town to finish elementary school. It is a big accomplishment to do this. In my family, two of us did it and four of us did not. I have two little bros and I hope they can do it.

Then you have to walk over the bundok (mountain) behind our town for two more years. You can do this if you are strong. I love the bundok you know. Even if one time I hurt myself on the bundok because I used a bolo to cut a tree and the tree smashed into my leg.

The tree was part of a school project in third grade. I cried when I saw the blood. But nobody really feel sorry for me, except my dad I think. If you live there, you have to accept life and do not complain!

Anyway, for high school you have to travel far away and board with someone. I did this until I finished three years of high school. But it was so hard for my parents to have budget to feed me. My third year was so hard because I had no money and no food so many times.

So I did not finish. I moved up to Manila and went to work. I have worked for five years now and really I want to finish school. Up here in the city there is a better opportunity for me to finish school I hope. If you do not have a good education, you have no opportunity in the Philippines. Nothing. Zero. Wala. Waray.

So yes, everybody should stay in school. But when I hear a Kano say this, I want to ask, "do you understand life here? This is not the United States you know!"

More Stories By Inday Vinyas

Inday Vinas grew up in Samar Province, Philippines. She left high school after three years to work and help her family, including seven brothers and sisters. She is now a writer and small businessperson.