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Monday, April 14, 2008

A trip to Yap

I came to Yap yesterday, February 20, and it brought me back to my younger days spending time in the province. I told my companion that the place looks like a “barangay”. The place was quiet. Being just right in the middle of the Pacific with remote access makes it kind the backward place; away from civilization.

Yap is called the Stone Money state. It is part of Federated State of Micronesia. The stone money that they use is carved in Palau. It makes me think how the Yapese made to bring the stone money to Palau and back to Yap. Just seeing the size of the stone money will surely amaze you. I was asking some locals regarding why the Yapese has to use such heavy money and they have all the trouble bring the stone to Palau to carve it and then bring it back instead of using lighter and simpler things as money. Probably because the island has not that much metal thus they use stones. The local says that there is no direct explanation why their ancestors have to go to Palau in order to have that money carve. What they know is that the value of the stone is greater when the size is bigger and that the number of persons who passed away carving it. Probable the reason why Yapese has to go all through the trouble to have a value attached to their money basing it on the length of time and effort exerted just to make the stone money.

It is humbling experience to be in Yap. Life is not hassle. There is no rush. They are simple people with simple life. People here just wear simple clothing in their workplace. Most are in their slippers….even if they work for an office not like ours where we need to wear business suit or uniform. Vehicles are either left or right handed but mostly right handed because most are Japan surplus. With the soaring price of gas most are relying on the public bus for their transportation.

Most chew a nut mixed with lime and a particular leaf. If you don’t know their culture you might get shock because you might think there is blood in their mouth. This is their “cigarette”. Almost every adult has this particular chew weather male or female. Much like a cigarette they chew it on their breaks, after a meal, and some even while working. I have no offense against it since it’s their culture and practice. It is something which a visitor like me must respect.

They are a jolly and a hospitable people. Their island is separated from most access thus supply here is scarce. You might end up eating the same meal in any restaurant if the shipment from neighboring islands is not coming or broken. You can’t demand for a food which is not available so one must content itself to what the island can offer. Thus for me its humbling because living in Manila and right now in Guam where you can have the things you want just across any store and them living that kind of life in an island so peaceful and quiet makes one value things that we mostly complain in our own place. The principle “to appreciate what one has rather than to grumble on the wants that one has not” is truly the meaning of appreciation.

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