I finally got the chance to go back to my family’s sugarcane plantation. Memories of old started flooding back. The sights, the smells, the people and the overall peace of the land was something my spirit needed, badly.
My cousin asked me to go with him to provide snacks and drinks for those working (magkakarga) on the plantation. We hoped on his tricycle and took the short ride to see them. My other cousin was there waiting for us.
I used to watch the magkakarga pile up the sugarcane on the trucks as a child. I remember how hot it was even early in the morning. It had not changed. It was still hot. The men wore long sleeved shirts to protect themselves from the sharp leaves and the little thorn-like debris.
It’s hard work doing this. You’re under the hot sun and the canes are heavy. You need to have good coordination and balance. The trucks are tall. You must use a ladder to get up and load the trucks. One slip can cause serious injury.
Over the years, I have developed a lot of respect for these men and women. It is not easy work and I don’t think anyone has been able to make millions of dollars let alone pesos. However, this product was enough to pay for my father’s education along with his other siblings. One of the reasons why I made it to Canada is because of sugarcane.
While the magkakarga rested and snacked, I noticed they had a large blade they called “pangtadtad” or “panadtat.” I could not help but ask to “play with it.” It was heavier than most bolos or machetes. It has a special purpose that you’ll see in one of the pictures. As I played around with the panadtad, I could not help but think, “I’m doing this for fun. These guys are using this for a living.” Respect.
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