I've joined a few folks on Boracay, in the Philippines, who have been raising money to help feed those who are struggling through the pandemic, as there is little work without tourism here. A couple of months ago, while seeking out areas where rice distribution would be most needed, a woman approached us to tell us of an elderly man who doesn't have anyone to look after him.
Pedro is a 67 year old banana and cassava farmer who has lived on Boracay for over 35 years. That goes back to before there was any modern development or even electricity on the island. He owns two hectares of land on a hill off of a backroad, on which he grows banana trees and cassava. His earnings from the plants are meagre but he says it's enough for him to get by.
Initially, he told us he's 55 but when I asked him about the '1954' tattoo on his arm, he said it's his birth year. We did the math. Coincidently, our most recent visit happened to be the day after his birthday!
Pedro has become a regular recipient of our rice packages. He seems to enjoy the company of our visits more than anything and he always greets us with a warm, endless smile. He's only got one brother, who lives on another island, so he doesn't get to see him often.
Besides selling them wholesale, Pedro often gives his harvested bananas away to the children in his community, and goes to church on Saturdays to trade them for other food items with the people there. He's a devout Catholic (as are most Filipinos), and says he enjoys going to church because sometimes people there let him use their smart phone to watch TV.
On our last visit, as we were leaving, we said goodbye and thanked him for talking to us and telling us about himself. He shouted back, "Millions, thanks!". Well, that says it all, right there, doesn't it?
These are some images from our visits with Pedro so far.