I met Weeler Orogo in one of my mountain runs as the trail cuts through his property/farm. His farm registered a distance of 15 kilometers from the place I started my trail running workout. My running companion had a chance to talk with Weeler few days had passed and he was the one who gave directions on the exact trail route that goes all the way to Barangay Tala, Orani, Bataan which is the trailhead in going to Mt Natib.
In my conversation with Weeler, he told me that he is a native of Guinobatan, Albay and he came to the area of Bataan to follow his brother who worked for a businessman in the early 90s. One thing leads to another and eventually, he liked the place and decided to permanently stay in the province with his wife and children.
He said that he bought a 15-hectare area in the mountains which is his present location with the amount of P 18,000 in 1992 which is I think the purchase of the Declaration of Rights of the said land. He immediately started planting coconut, mango, kasoy trees when he acquired the land and cultivated the land with vegetables and root crops for his daily needs. I saw one of his mango trees cut into pieces ready for burning to be transformed to charcoal. I asked him why he has to cut his mango tree and he said that the trunk had been rotten and it is already unproductive.
He has 9 children, 8 sons and one daughter. All the son’s names start with the letter “W”. I jokingly asked if one of them is named as “Wonka or Waldo” and he said he did not know such names exist. He has 33 grandchildren which include few grand grandchildren. He named his only daughter as “Coronacion”, the Crown of their family!
He is 73 years old and I would assume that he was in his early 50s when he decided to permanently stay in Bataan and bought his mountain property/farm. As part of my interview to evaluate mountain people’s knowledge on current events, I usually ask “Who is now the President of the Philippines?” Well, I got the right answer from him and his wife. They have a transistor radio inside their house made of bamboo and cogon grass as their roof!
As we went further with our conversation, I found out that he was once a Barangay Councilman somewhere in Quezon Province in his younger years and has a cousin who was a Colonel in the Philippine Constabulary way back in the 60s/70s. He admitted that armed insurgents would drop and pass by his farm when they were still active in the province. However, he assured me that there are no longer armed insurgents in the area since a wide trail road reached his property as more neighboring lots had been sold/bought as pasture land and orchard for mangoes and coconuts.
Nowadays, his exercise is his hobby, making wooden mortars & pestle for his relatives. The mortars are made from acacia wood and they are heavy. I asked him to make one piece for me and he said affirmatively, subject to the availability of acacia wood. He was generous to share us his fresh coconuts and declined my offer to pay for them. He even went to the extent of asking the contact number of one of my boys so that he can immediately inform me if there is a wild boar’s meat from his hunting trips in the area!
Well, it was a nice feeling talking to such person who enjoys living in the mountains. For me, he is a rich man who enjoys his life to the fullest without any pressure or stress—-no bills to pay, no processed food to eat, zero crimes in his locality, no traffic, no pollution and above all, no politics & Facebook!
Keep on running!