Conversations that take place in a strange new place don’t often last that long. People answer. People ask. Children seem to be more carefree sharing tidbits of their lives. Rowena says she’s turning 9 on December 17. She looks at me then down to my camera. She is fidgety and avoids eye contact. I sat down to hopefully ease her shyness and nervousness. Then again, I would have felt the same way seeing a stranger with a camera. She was preoccupied washing a cloth by the water when I first approached her. The mangroves have seen her do this everyday. Certain tasks beg for repetitiveness the mangroves must have said. She stood up when I came too close, scratched her head and smiled. I wonder if smiles are the first visible sign of acceptance.
With empty batteries, I busied myself getting to know the locals in that area. A couple of them asked if I was from the media. Later on, the young children started talking about a neighbour who ended up pregnant after agreeing to meet a text mate. Others talked to me about politics and told me their parents were going to vote for Estrada. I sat there amused by the revelations. A girl took my number and told me to visit them during the town fiesta that happens annually on April. The photo below shows Rowena taking a photo of the kids with my phone.