Mindoro Mission Trip

My Mission Trip

Oriental Mindoro, Lamak, Hanonoo Tribe

October 2005

The Experience

This was my first time to be in a mission trip, and our Lamak mission trip experience was very meaningful and educational. I had many “first time” experiences. “First time” in sleeping in a small size bed bag that became as thin as a blanket after the mission (may be due to my heavy weight); in sleeping inside a mosquito net (wherein it is a lot smaller than the person it is protecting; in bathing with “Off” lotion 3 times a day; to be drinking my coffee in the morning only after breathing fresh charcoal scent; in walking bare footed through the rice field towards the hill. “First time” in singing a hanonoo praise songs, befriending people wearing G-string (and hugging them), “first time” feeling celebrity, anytime of the day, there are “supporters” around us. These are only some of my fun-filled experiences in Lamak Mission.

The Culture

Staying with the Mangyans for 5 days was not enough to know their entire culture. But within these few days I learned lots of things about them. As a Chinese-Filipino, my culture does not allow us to inter-marry. But for the Mangyans of Lamak they do permit it. The reason according to Kuya Danny, the youth fellowship leader (Pinuno ng kabataan), was their Christian faith. Christianity made their tribe closer to each other that they treat each other as brothers and sisters; they then inter-marry Christian people of different Mangyan tribes or other nationalities.

Since almost ninety percent of the Mangyan people of Lamak are Christians they no longer exercise their old culture such us ancestral worship and celebrate feasts of the saints. Unlike them, most of the Chinese-Filipino of my culture does worship ancestors and they do celebrate feasts of the saints. And one thing true in their life is that “Barter change” still exists; not as I know of in my culture today. These are only some of the ways how Hanonoos differ in my culture.

Mangyans are by nature shy. They don’t easily mingle with foreign people, but after fellowshipping with them, they became more open, we exchange stories and jokes. I was able to relate with them because that is also how we, Chinese, are to foreign people. They love to share testimonies as we do.

Since Christianity bound them from other beliefs, the way they live is almost the same as the “true” Christians here in the city. Their faith always comes first.

The Friendship

Mangyan people are not difficult to befriend with. They are approachable; they like to listen to the story of the outsiders, stories from the Bible and are open to listen to new ideas. They also love to share their testimonies again and again, and they were able to share their ministry problems with us, for us to pray for them. Until now we are exchanging text messages about how we missed each other and some prayer requests.

The Church Relationship

I believe that the MTCA (Mangyan Tribal Church Association) churches should have a close relationship with our local churches. The need to guide them and equip them in the word of God is highly needed. They need our churches to pray for them, to send Medical team, to send preachers, to update them with modern ideas (ex. livelihood projects, church and family related issues), and to extend financial help for their church. The leaders were personally asking us, our churches here in Manila to pray for them. They didn’t ask for any financial help, what they were asking for is that we do not forget to pray for them.

The Realization

I am a “cowboy” type of person, willing to venture new things, willing to face hardships. But at the back of my mind I was apprehensive. I first felt all these anxiousness the first time I saw the place where we are going to stay. But this anxiousness faded as I recalled the mission statement of BSOP (Obeying Christ and Suffering for Him). Well, to cut my story short, I was able to persist without the things that I really need when I was in the city.

But the most important thing that I learned from this mission was from the life of the Mangyans, they no longer need the law of the government instead they just abide by the rules taught in the Bible. If there are offences incurred by their people that person would need to pay a bail in the form of their livelihood (Farm animals). The societal groups they have were based on the fellowship groups that they have in their church. The only distraction for their spiritual growth was the presence of “Betamax” every Wednesday, where the youth go down to the “Tianggean” to watch or buy things that comes from the city. “Tianggean” only opens every Wednesday.

In terms of their artefacts, they are very good in weaving (Ayupit) using their hands, because according to them weaving can be made by hand or by feet. They said Igorots use feet in weaving. They also use beads in making jewelleries, bags, pencil holder, and cell phone cases; they use “Buri” in making bag, basket, saucer, plat mat and a lot more.

Their life had a drastic change upon embracing Christianity, they no longer have “albularyo” or quack doctors. They no longer interested in “agimat” or “anting-anting”.

There are many more things that I learned about them. I hope to share them in class if given a chance.

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