Recently we asked one of the young teenagers from our local High School to write a short story in English about what it is like to grow up on Isla Verde. Here is Hanna's story.
It is not easy for a young person living on a small island like Isla Verde. We are brought up to live a simple and peaceful life, but ordinary things like food and necessities are hard to find, especially during habagat and typhoon season, when rough seas and strong winds mean we cannot get across the Verde Island Passage to Batangas to shop for supplies.
Mostly we eat "tuyo", which is dried fish, and we pour "kape" (coffee) as soup for our rice. We need to catch fish in the sea around Isla for viands and we eat kalamansi with salt and call it "dinidil".
There is not much work on Isla Verde. So as a young girl I helped to earn money. I fetched for other houses and with what I earned I bought food for my family. There were times I went into the forest with my brother to cut firewood for cooking, and other logs for sale.
Because it is hard to find work in the Philippines and especially on a small island like Isla Verde, like many Filipino families, my parents went to work abroad. During this time we were left to live with our grandmother and aunt. They were very strict and I remember they used to scold us if we made mistakes. It was especially hard for us when Christmas time came around. At a time when most Filipino families are together to celebrate, we were apart from our parents. I cried a lot, wishing I could spend Christmas with my mom and dad. If I heard news on the radio or saw news about Saudi Arabia, where they were working, I felt scared and prayed they they would always be safe.
I study hard, and I am happy that I am one of the achievers in our school. Even though we have to walk 5km every day to school, and it hurts my feet and legs I don't complain. I have tried to become a much stronger, industrious and obedient girl, because I want some day to become an engineer.
Many people here just give up and give in to bad habits like drinking too much, gambling and they love to spread gossip. I don't want to live like that and I hope never to be lazy like them. With God's help I will continue to study harder and when I grow older I will help my family to have a better life.
I give thanks to some people who help us, guide us and care for us.