Mum Basita is the wife of a barangay captain in Bohol, Philippines.
She used to work in Singapore because being a maid for a day paid more than being a farmer for a week.
Now, she makes 80 pesos for one kilo of brinjal.
That’s $2.40 SGD.
We were there to visit her barangay,
To understand their efforts of reforesting their land
To understand their reasons, their benefits, their personal stories.
But still, I didn’t expect to meet Mum Basita.
She walked us to her farm
And pulled out a stack of paper from her pocket
She had written her whole speech to us out, all seven pages
So that she wouldn’t forget.
She trembled. She couldn’t face us.
She didn’t want her tears analysed by foreign students
She didn’t want her feelings explained in academic language.
I held back any questions I originally had.
I forgot them all.
But my peers were still curious, still studious
Insisted she tell us more.
They scribbled her broken English down.
Her rough voice hit my ear drums in the same way
their pencils scratched at their note pads, desperately.
I’ve never had science fail me before.
Anthropology, I realised might be the study of people
But it is meaningless if we do not realise
that Anthropology is really the study
Anthropology by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.