Kampung Ayer in Labuan and How it Broke My Heart

The real essence of Bajau's water village is hidden somewhere in the heart of every villager. Though it is mostly advertised as a foreign destination, the place only shows its beauty extrinsically. But within lies a different world - a beauty far from what we could actually see and imagine. I've been there and experienced the mundane reality with these "laut" people.

It was After all a Wonderful Day!

I woke up on the other side of the bed that morning when someone from my past started to ruin my trip. 

Suddenly, I realized that I should not let a whoever bygone passed my day by with a frown. At the same time, since I was totally exhausted from those exchange of words, my physiologic clock began to tick which told me that I hadn't had my breakfast and lunch.

I began searching for food in my hostel's fridge and settled with fruits. However, I was still feeling less contented because of the bugging indigestion problem so, I roamed around the small town to look for something edible.
"The hostel where I stayed is just opposite of this river bank."
Voila! I ordered a KFC Pocketloader combo meal. However, my food trip got a twisted story.

These "Laut" People

It brought me to a place where a lot of unfed mouths were seen living in dilapidated houses. Having stayed in a week in the Federal Territory of Labuan, I opened my eyes to such shameful truth - these hungry-mouths are my Kababayans, my fellow Filipinos. I have also seen this kind of situation in my place but it breaks my heart to see these people in a foreign land struggling to survive of what little they have and could have - uneducated, illiterate, starving and working in a lowly job.
"This is a usual scene."
Going back to my KFC snacks, I gave that KFC Pocketloader to a kid looking at me. I bet she had never eaten the kind of food I am enjoying at home and in fancy, high-end restaurants.
"Enjoying dinner with the Badgao Family:
"Aftie break be like..."
In return, I was humbly served dinner with what they call a combo meal - a seaweed salad, a fried fish and fish in vinegar sauce! I enjoyed it so much eating by hand and squatting on the floor! It was a sumptuous meal and a hearty one!
"I lose to these kids..."
I ended up crying inside - these people are so kind. They have the means to enjoy themselves even how difficult life is. Just so I had the tour around the water village, kids were playing a famous Filipino game - TAK-SI! (Coins were placed inside a square drawn on the ground and players toss another coin hitting the cent outside the box.) They also enjoyed sliding down from a high-place sandy land with their wooden planks. They had fun playing their own version of soccer and volleyball! Living in a place that is somewhat unimaginable and hard, they still find the joys of living!
"Ordinary scene..."
Back in the Mainland

Back in the mainland, I joined my Chinese friends. These rich people could never understand me. I was even told that these "Bajaus" bring shame to their country. It pierced my heart that I wanted to defend these people from the insults and misnomers they received.
"I may no longer remember your names but for sure, you gave me a great lesson which I carried these days."
Anyway, I have seen the different faces of a coin and each side has a picture of it. I had heard both sides and experienced both. Once the coin is flipped, it is the side that stays within the game.
"It still is a wonderful world..."
Life then is a battle for survival however, it is not defined by money alone but rather it is defined by happiness and contentment. I am not rich. I don't even fancy myself to become one. But, I am thankful that somehow, I was given an opportunity to flip both sides of life and experienced its sweetness and bitterness.
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About Marie Angelique Villamor

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