On our last visit to the Batak at Langogan, Palawan, I made it a point to bring something that the kids can have fun with while my team and I take a break from the trips. I wanted to awaken that part of their minds that go far beyond the salt-sprinkled rice for breakfast (…lunch and dinner), beyond the unlit classrooms that go dark on rainy afternoons, and beyond the hectares and hectares of forests they hunt when they grow up to join the tribal workforce.

Sketchpads and oil pastels were enough to fill entire afternoons, both for children and adults alike.

I hope that one day, the children see the beauty of their indigenous traditions, and that their motivation to push forward–proudly as a tribe with roots intact–will come from within.