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Saturday, August 7, 2021

Foreigner touched by humility, hospitality of the Kalinga people

Photo Courtesy || Becoming Filipino

Cordillera - "I was really starting to get overwhelmed.  Giving, Caring, Open, Friendly, Trusting, Positive... Manong Teddy is exactly what we should all strive to be. It really touched my heart interacting with him in this small mountain village of Kalinga."

These are the words of appreciation by Kyle Jennerman to a kindhearted Kalinga man who offered coffee and invited him to his house in Lubuagan, Kalinga.

When Jennerman, popularly known as Kulas visited Kalinga for the very first time a few years back, he met Manong Teddy, a 57-year old farmer who happens to be the most hospitable and open person in the village.

READ ALSO: Igorots are the most civilized people - Kulas

In his Facebook post, Kulas narrated how he was inspired to the act of kindness and genuine hospitality shown by Manong Teddy.

Watch the video below of how Kulas meet Manung Teddy in Lubuagan, Kalinga.

Read Kulas' post below:

"Meet Manong Teddy.  I didn't know him, he didn't know me, but we crossed paths and shared moments together I will never forget. 

Here I was in Barangay Upper Uma, Lubuagan Kalinga.  Out of curiosity, I trekked down to this little village nestled under mountains and surrounded by rice terraces... it was just so beautiful.  Alone and unaware of my surroundings, I still felt comfortable.  Heading towards this village I just felt like I was in the right place, and surrounded by good. 

Walking up through rice fields and getting closer to houses, I saw a man sitting on the ground...

"Brother! How are you!"

This 57 year old man who introduced himself as Teddy smiled and spoke beaming with happiness.  He didn't speak much english, and my Tagalog wasn't perfect in the least... but we worked it out.  A simple conversation was had.  As I stood up and walked away I heard Teddy once again:

"Coffee?  At my place?"

I decided to turn back and accept it.  And so I found myself in Manong Teddy's house.  It was a simple house with very few appliances, but filled with love... you could just feel it.  And when he handed me fresh coffee, and apologized:

"Sorry, I have no bread."

That was when it all started to hit me.  

I quickly interrupted him... "Manong... no, no... let me get the bread!"  There was no bread in the village sari-sari store.  But i managed to get some crackers.    

Back in Manong Teddy's house I noticed a picture on the wall.  Turns out his son was away in Sulu.  He joined the military and was away from home, serving the Philippines.  The minutes ticked away... we sat down, talked about life, educated each other about our languages, and I even used my Philippines map tattoo to explain where I was from in Mindanao.  I was a complete stranger... but Manong never hesitated to open up his life, and his home to me.  He even apologized for "not having enough to offer me".  

Excuse my language here. Really I don't swear and I apologize for this, but I want you to feel my emotion here...  I don't F***ing deserve that!  How dare he apologize for giving.  GIVING.  That is all he had been doing the past 45 minutes! But you see, that is the Philippines... a place where giving is a part of life.  Where people pride themselves on JUST GIVING.  

How that needs to spread... Just give.  How I believe it will.  One day at a time if we strive to emulate it. 

As the afternoon ticked away, I realized I wanted to see the rice terraces before it got too late.  I thanked Manong Teddy and left his house... but even then he looked out for me.  Manong sent a group of kids from the village to guide me.  And as I explored and started to head up the far side of the terraces towards my motorbike... Manong was already waiting near the top.  He must have been watching out for me, and making sure I wasn't having any difficulties.  

We met again near the base of the trail up to my motor I noticed he was standing over some watercress:

"Kulas, would you like to take some watercress?"

Grabe!  He wasn't just watching out for me... Manong Teddy now even wanted to give me his vegetables!  I politely declined, and we proceeded to walk up the last bit of trail.  

"Kulas, you are always welcome here.  Your friends can sleep in my house anytime."

I was really starting to get overwhelmed.  Giving, Caring, Open, Friendly, Trusting, Positive... Manong Teddy is exactly what we should all strive to be. It really touched my heart interacting with him in this small mountain village of Kalinga.

I was so touched by all his acts of kindness and giving... I wish I had something I could offer him.

And right before I left I asked:

"Manong, have you ever seen Canadians here?  Ever met one?"

He responded:

"You are the first.  First one I have ever heard of in our place."

I didn't have much on me... but I did have my favourite Canadian jersey. I took it off and offered it to him.  Manongs first reaction:

"No! No!  It is cold..."

Yes it was getting towards night time, and it was cold.  Manong didn't want to accept my gift, because he recognized it would make me feel uncomfortable!  


He took it in the end with a big smile.  

And what I took with me for the rest of my life is a heart full of lessons from this Filipino Manong... on how WE AS HUMANS SHOULD BE.

The Philippines is full of people like Manong Teddy, and I am so blessed to be here learning from them... 

One day at a time.



Jhenwangz said...

Your so amazing ND happy to watch this video...I'm from kalinga living here in manila Laguna...missing so much my place...ND thank you to see again my province kalinga...keep going ND explore more NXT time stay there for a fews days..god bless u ND stay always safe

Anonymous said...

I’m on Quadra Island, British Columbia. We have a group here that sponsors two schoolgirls in Kalinga. They write regularly to say thank you and tell about daily life in Kalinga. I find their letters so moving, almost poetic, though they’re not trying to be poetic. It’s the
simplicity of their lives that touches me. And the love of family.
I was curious about Kalinga and that’s how I came across your film.
It was very interesting and beautiful.

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