Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 2 - Romblon, Marbles and Poverty Staring At Me In The Face

October 21, 2008 - My day started with a motorcycle ride with my brother around Romblon Island.By now, only after a day in the outdoors, I am already tanned and was loving it.And so began our mini-tour, with my brother as the tour guide.

Marbles Everywhere

When they said that there are marble stones in Romblon, it was an understatement. The entire Romblon island is practically a marble deposit. And there are mountains, and mountains of marble stones. They come in different colors: black, gray, white, green onyx , among others.

Our very first stop over is in Baranggay Dos., where the marble carvers are. We visited some stalls and make-shift production areas where men usually do the carving and grinding and women do the polishing. You can see all kinds of decorations, of all sizes, all over the place, from dolphin paper weights to life sized lions and elephants. It's a pity most of these would have to be exported, as average Filipinos couldnt afford such decorations.

We rode further, up the mountains and there we saw the quarries. It is a pity big companies would have to blow up the mountains to get the marbles. It not only damages the environment, it is likewise hazardous to the residents. Further up the mountains, people live through working in the quarries, carrying those heavy blocks of marble stones.

Marble Mountains, Broken Heart

We reached Brgy Agbanuto and there I saw mountains and mountains of marbles. All these resources amazed me. I wish there was a way all these can improve the lives of all the people in the island.

We got off the motorbike, and we were taking some pictures when we saw three elderly ladies sitting under a tree. I looked closer and saw what they were doing. They were splitting marble stones into small pieces, only with a chisel, a hammer and their bare hands!I could not imagine mothers and grandmothers doing such a difficult work!

We greeted them and they accomodated our questions about their place. They asked us where we are from and what we are doing in Romblon. I then asked them what they were doing, and one replied that they are splitting marbles into small pieces, which construction firms or contractors use to build roads. She explained that this is what many children and women in Agbanuto do. Daily one can make about 2 sacks and the contractors pay then six pesos per sack (!). They spend the whole day splitting stones, practically with their own hands, and all their effort is worth only thirteen pesos?!

When we left, my heart was as broken as those marble stones.

Somehow, i know, there must be something anyone, or even me, can do for them.

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