published in The Gracean Envoy, 1992, when I was in 4th year high school
When Sister Ma. Nora Joson, RVM was preparing to go back to Manila from the blessing of the RVM Relief Houses for the Mt. Pinatubo victims in Porac, Pampanga, a little hand kept tugging at her skirt.
That little hand belonged to Narsna Juaning, whose dark feet also followed SIster Nora around, too much that the nun jokingly asked her if she wanted to come to Manila with her.
Much to Sister's surprise, Narsna ran like a bolt of lightning to get her father's permission. The girl's father was only too happy to entrust Narsna's education to the sisters.
And so it was settled. Narsna would come with Sister Nora to Manila to study...but that was before Narsna's autnt insisted that her own daughter Silbag come, too.
Now the cousins are happily sporting the traditional blue-and-white, straight cut, Kinder uniform as they sit with other pupils at the K-St. Paul class of Miss Cora Lansangan here in Our Lady of Grace Academy.
"They belong to the Liplip tribe of Balugas, who originally resided on Mount Pinatubo," Sister Nora continued. "But after the eruption, they were at a loss." It was then that their barangay captain approached the RVM sisters of Sacred Heart Academy in Guagua, Pampanga. But the community there had limited resources, too. Sister Cora Agoncillo, RVM asked Sister Nora for assistance.
"We have adopted the whole of the Liplip tribe, consisting of 65 families. But so far, only 35 relief houses have been built. There is obviously a need for more, not to mention food and others. Your donations automatically go with them," Sister further explained.
The education of Narsna and Silbag is only experimental. Every RVM school has since adopted two kids. The tribe people are illiterates, so the "chosen children" are expected tp go back to their homes to teach and civilize the others.
An informal chat with the cousins proved that they were just like any other children, fair or not. What do they like best here? "Laro," they replied. "Masaya, pinapaaral kami." Both of them said they want to be teachers someday.
"Apple, atis, elephant, coloring book..." Narsna recited as though in litany the things she thinks makes their stay in Manila wonderful. With the two photo albums propped up in each girl's lap, they cheerfully pointed out the people they had posed with. They know Santa Claus, of course, and both are looking forward to taking a vacation home this Christmas.
The kids have learned to speak in Filipino since coming here last may. They help in simple chores in the house like washing their underthings and panyolitos, and cleaning the front walk. Most of all they have been introduced to Kuya Jesus, and concluded this interview with a recitation of prayer. "Jesus, tulungan kami, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit..."