Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (GT
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (GT ANTH 100
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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Justus Roberts on Tuesday September 22, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 100 at Colorado State University taught by Sonya LeFebre in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 14 views. For similar materials see /class/210205/anth-100-colorado-state-university in anthropology, evolution, sphr at Colorado State University.
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DECEJVIBER 2 2001 A Plunge into the Present THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE DECEMBER 2 2001 REPRIN39IED WITH PERMISSION Ruben Dican adjusts the television as everyone waits A picture comes into focus It39s Bryant Gulnbel There39s a shot of United Flight 175 ramming the south tower Then it39s run again And again It is Sept 12 and 22 men women and children sit rapt at the end of the earth They39ve never actually seen a skyscraper Or a Bryant Gumbel Or a plane other than the tiny ones that infrequently alight on a grassy strip near the volcano Yet they watch An older man peers out from behind a door Children past their bedtime sit on the oor in a daze Their parents study the ickering images perplexed Are those people living in the same world as we are Twenty ve years ago the inhabitants of Babuyan Claro a tiny imapproachable island that lies a hundred miles of churning Paci c north of the Philippine mainland were animistic and without written language Called the Ibatan they lived in almost total isolation for much of the 19th and 20th centuries a quirk of ocean currents geography and fate In just over two decades since the arrival of a pair of headstrong freewheeling missionaries they have raced up man39s 5000 year developmental arc embracing monotheism free enterprise and CNN They have evaluated each step with the fresh appraising eyes of the arriviste Familiar accouterments have lately fallen into place knockoffs of Fila shorts and Nike T shirts worn lovingly into faded crepe have been acquired from passing shing boats new babies are being called Joe and Russell Americanizing the mostly Iberian names that spread across native populations when the Spanish colonized this region in the 160039s the metallic light of the television ickers tonight across a rare upstairs room in the island39s nicest home a simple two story box with carved mahogany trellises cement oors and running water from faucets Since the 40 year old Ruben Dican the wealthiest man on the four mile wide atoll got a satellite dish a few weeks ago his house has become the local megaplex A quietly cheerful man who has grown portly on an island where life39s rigors keep almost everyone slim Ruben is one of the few English speakers here Since most of the 54 channel selection is from the United States he must also act as a translator of strange words and even stranger images quotIt feels like we are rushing forward trying to decide what to keep of the modern world and what to throw away while not losing hold of what has given us life and happiness for all timequot he says softly in his halting precise English before his attention is drawn away by Lisa Beanler who is talking about the last call from her husband Todd before he fought the hijackers Everyone watches quotIt seems so real the picturesquot Ruben murmurs quotsometimes more real than our own livesquot It was nothing more than a coincidence thatI was on my way to Babuyan to examine the accelerated development of its society on the very day that the United States was attacked Later when I returned home I learned that the shock and bewilderment the Ibatan registered was not so different from what was felt in a lot of other places I also came to understand that what I found on the island away from the television set was a kind of microcosm of what the world was suddenly ghting over not simply West versus East or Judeo Christian versus Islam but the very idea of modernity and what constitutes human progress Many on Babuyan still remember the quotbefore timequot when there was a settled egalitarianism rather than every man for himself enterprise when no one here knew that the Ibatan were poor in a world of vast wealth Within their tiny civilization of 1400 people you can see so clearly the effects of modernity and measure what is gained against what has been lost And in the person of Ruben Dican the richest and most modernized gure on the island you can see the struggle to manage a problem that is new to them but quite familiar to the rest of the world the divide between haves and have nots The story of the Ibatan starts in the late 186039s when a nameless Malay Polynesian tribe was swept off course in a typhoon and steered their outrigger toward a single point of hope a 4000 foot volcano poking up from the horizon They discovered an island enveloped by treacherous rocks It39s a place you wreck onto which is what they did seven of them demolishing their vessel and becoming castaways Exploring the dense jungles with wild pigs pythons monitor lizards and strange large footed chickens they found remnants of ancient structures and burial urns with bones and artifacts From these relics the Ibatan would develop their own brand of mysticism the island they came to believe was occupied by a community of quotinvisiblesquot wise unseen inhabitants who were custodians of the ora and fauna the winds and tides From this vision grew a theology replete with ritual offerings shamanic cures and burial rites all directed toward the ideal of machitonos the Ibatan word for quotbalancequot or quotharmonyquot Afew other shipwrecks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries added hybrid vigor to the gene pool and a discrete language evolved with several names for each of six winds shaded terms for hundreds of varieties of plants and no words for war envy jealousy property buy sell or own The Ibatan passed the decades in a kind of serenity Though they did dispense with a few unlucky visitors they were otherwise peaceful They wore clothes of pounded bark and found herbal remedies in python gallbladders Their world evolved with a gentle premodern rhythm until the day in 1977 when a 29 year old missionary named Rundell Maree slipped off a boat into the water carrying his shortwave radio overhead and scraped his way across the rocks toward shore Rundell had come to advance the mandate of the Wycliffe Bible Translators also known as SIL International derived from its original name Summer Institute of Linguistics The organization sends missionaries trained in linguistics to the most remote corners of the world places that do not yet have written language a concept rst developed by the Sumerians more than 5000 years ago Their mission is to construct a written language from an ancient spoken tongue teach the indigenous population to read translate the entire New Testament and portions of the Old into the people39s quotmother tonguequot and then give copies to one and all They say this is the best way to spread God39s word But that was a long way off for Rundell First he had to just coexist with the Ibatan a task he approached with characteristic Western con dence He fancied himself a survivor and citizen of the world having moved through childhood from his birthplace in Rhodesia to England Canada then Bible college and a graduate theology degree in California before catching the itinerant crosswind of a missionary39s life He was the only Caucasian most islanders had ever seen and in his rst two years on the island he was run ragged poisoned almost killed by malaria and made a quotplaythingquot by the Ibatan As he tried to learn the language using an elegant system developed by SIL s founders the Ibatan now numbering about 600 joyously substituted common words with the names of body parts Trying to find a lost hammer for instance Rundell would ask if anyone had seen his penis that he39d lost it somewhere Ibatan would roll on the ground in hysterics ask him quotHow big is itquot and then add new words The subtext though was all too serious some elders saw him as a threat and wanted him dead At the moment Rundell was ready to abandon the project and his sanity he caught a 10 year old boy trying to scam him out of pads and pencils Under interrogation the boy explained how the Ibatan had made a fool of him Rundell broke down a moment he remembers vividly even after the passage of two decades quotI39m not a foolquot he said to the boy quotThere are things I can teach you amazing things about a world beyond your imagination about a God that will love you no matter what But you must help me We must be friends Do you lmderstandquot That boy whose name was Frank Simon did understand quotI can teach you what you need to know to survive herequot the boy said But there was one condition quotSomeday I want to go over the horizon in a boat You39ll help me do that rightquot quotYesquot ledell said seeing a rst glimpse of his future quotYes I willquot It was a bargain and each would hold up his end Rundell learned the ways of the Ibatan Frank a youngster with endless questions learned much about the world and heard the story of Christ A period of heady optimism and activity un n39led as year by year the cornerstones of the quotdevelopedquot world were laid on Babuyan Rundell was joined on the island by his wife Judi a Chinese American and their baby daughter A second daughter was born on the island The family settled into a hut made of rattan and split palms Curious Ibatan mostly teenagers nosed in many of them soon learning to read and write the Roman alphabet that had now been woven into a representation of their native language The arrival of written language scholars say creates an architecture for a civilization to become quotstickyquot making it possible to transmit knowledge more effectively in greater volume and detail and to build on advances Rundell and Judi began their own vanity press with titles like quotStories Concerning Us Here on Babuyanquot a collection of folk tales and quotAtlas Bookquot with drawings and text that showed where the island sat in relation to the Philippines the wider Paci c the world and where earth sits within the solar system Judi created a cookbook which along with recipes for preparing indigenous crops and grains described the uses of our something never seen on the island Soon enough one of the women had sent her husband out to barter with a passing Taiwanese shing junk the next day a sack of white powder appeared on the Marees39 doorstep Rundell meanwhile had two man hand saws delivered by a plane so that the men could more effectively cut the island39s precious nara trees and make boards A school was built and sturdier houses began to appear one of which belonged to the Marees In their own dwelling they set up a medical clinic which consisted of Rundell using the text quotWhere There Is N 0 Doctorquot and whatever medicines he could scrounge 011 infrequent trips to the mainland Three boys emerged as a kind of quotbridge generationquot There was Frank the young Ruben Dican and his young uncle Orlando Thomas Together they helped Rundell on one of his rst and most signi cant transformational projects the building of a water system At that time the island was still what anthropologists call a quotspring culturequot where everyone gathered at a few large springs to ll buckets and discuss everything each day So the building of a rudimentary system of sisterns and pipes a baby step toward modernity represented a signi cant disruption of traditional Ibatan culture Indeed as the water owed Christianity began to take root In the early 198039s ledell took a few Ibatan for short stints to a rural SIL center in the northern province of the Philippines where they helped with translation of the New Testament They tended to be young in their late teens or early 2039s and this group including a core trio of Frank Ruben and Orlando were among the first quotbelieversquot This new nondenominational Christian faith based on an intimate humanized deity who would love each believer unconditionally appealed to converts as an alternative to the mystical earthbound complexities of the quotinvisiblesquot Being worthy of this God s love seemed to offer a new sensation of self worth People were suffused with the Judeo Christian octane of individual destiny a perfect t with the new ideas about education business and personal behavior that Rundell and Judi were also introducing Ruben and Orlando and their soon to be wives Miriam and Nancy were sent to college on the mainland by the Marees The missionaries for their part were supported by a far ung group of about 75 regular contributors who wrote checks from kitchen tables church pews and of ces around the world These contributions averaged about 32000 a year and the couple with their two growing daughters spent modestly on themselves and gave away the rest Frank however would take nothing from Rundell neither compensation for Bible translating nor grants for education quotHe always looked at me as a peer an equalquot Rundell says quotHe said he didn39t want money to be part of our relationshipquot Rather than go off to school Frank became the island39s innovator and explorer its Magellan When nearly all the houses on the island were destroyed in a typhoon in 1987 it was Frank who decided they needed to build a great boat The islands eet of outriggers was limited in size by what could be lifted over the rocks and brought to safety inland But Frank went ahead and designed a 50 foot ship he and Rundell built it and then they sailed it 210 miles to the mainland and back with cement wood and other supplies Hundreds of Ibatan men carried the vessel to an inland lagoon as another storm approached Soon a separate medical clinic was built and the Marees were living in the island39s rst celnent house a cement church followed as well as the squat solid A frame of a new school In 1992 Frank sailed off in his outrigger and pantomimed his way onto a Taiwanese shing junk He spent six months as a sherman then six months in jail once the boat locked and he was found to have no immigration papers When he returned to Babuyan a year later two things occurred his mildly felonious sojourn became a career path for other young men and using the Taiwanese he learned in prison he negotiated deals on a shortwave with passing junks offering fresh water fruit and sh that the Ibatan were specialists in catching Soon 40 Ibatan outriggers fanned out to ll orders on the y By the mid 9039s a modern beat was becoming audible frenzied daytime hustling matched on evenings and weekends with repentant prayer The population grew fast as it will in places where there is no electricity and by 1995 there were 1000 Ibatan 400 of whom were devout Christians a community of fervent Puritan ethicists that would make Max Weber take notice And Marx too With growing disparities in income possessions and the sizes of homes came class division an upper class living around a town center by the water anchored by a small cooperative store and the rest mostly living in the mountain jimgles feeling their first tug of envy and resentment At the uppermost strata were a dozen or so Ibatan whose education the Marees underwrote led by Ruben and his wife Miriam By the 9039s both had become emblems of what de Tocqueville called bourgeoisie virtue studying furiously for their teaching certi cation exams tirelessly educating the island39s children ever resourceful and frugal Here in what teachers everywhere would consider a perfect world they became the highest paid people on the island earning a combined 20000 pesos a month about 400 from the Philippine Department of Education On Babuyan this is a fortune and it enabled Ruben and Miriam to build their grand fenced tvvo story house with the island39s rst indoor kitchen While Frank provided the bursts of ingenuity Ruben supported by his government salary established the kind of sustained patient enterprises upon which economies are built After Judi taught Miriam accounting skills she and Ruben effectively ran the island39s main cooperative a 15 foot square cement box with basic dry goods and packaged foods Ruben became the island39s banker lending money for all needs the head of its power company stringing wire from his diesel powered generator to lighthouses its ice company selling ice from his diesel powered freezer and its communications system checking radio reports for the weather and making emergency calls Step by step he becalne a civic man and contributor to the community a centrist a moderate in all things but with an eye always on a kind of enlightened selfinterest wherein people39s needs and wants could be served at an attractive margin Meanwhile the sensitive Orlando who from his youth assisted Rundell in the medical clinic became a teacher as well But from the start Orlando asked hard questions often from the sidelines about what was suitable and what was not for the Ibatan With his educational advantages he moved into the realm of service ministering to the sick on weekends as well as helping Rundell and Judi in their translation of the Bible and the creation of an Ibatan dictionary In his spare time he wrote songs and poems He poked fun at Ruben39s growing portliness Yes yes there goes a wealthy manquot and Frank39s yearning quotMy friend will only rest when he has no choice quot Like Ruben39s Orlando39s role on the island represented the arrival of specialization a crucial step in human development it took hold in the Fertile Crescent 7000 years ago in which a few elites are paid by society for their unique skills freeing them from physical labor It39s a principle upon which diversi ed developed economies surely rest Though the Philippine government had dropped a few teachers 011 the island in the 196039s they were mostly there on what seemed like extended vacations occasionally drilling some children in perfunctory recitations of Tagalog the national language None had ever bothered to learn the local tongue Ruben and Orlando local boys who got credentials and came home became the rst genuine elites wearing hats it often seemed for an entire professional class Frank for his part pushed forward without a formal education Despite his brilliance and grasp of several regional languages he chose to remain on a lower rung of the ladder with most of the Ibatan Each lay he struggled to support his young family with a patchwork of subsistence farming and grand schemes always at the pitiless whims of weather and tides By 1996 the beginning of the new Babuyan was nearly at an end Rundell and Judi drew close to nishing the Ibatan Bible a 1000 page translation of the New Testament plus Genesis into Ibatan The project had stretched across 20 years and was now ready for final proofreading When it was done there was great fanfare Rundell and Judi39s extended families friends and supporters arrived from the United States and Canada along with SIL leaders and Philippine of cials for the dedication of the completed book There were 350 copies passed out to the Ibatan The parties and prayers lasted a week With their daughters now off to college and their speci c SIL mission completed Rundell and Judi prepared to leave for their next project Everyone gathered on the landing strip to see them off A daily conversation across time and cultln39es lasting 20 years was about to end Songs were sung and Orlando Ruben and all the others hugged Rundell and Judi amid tears And Frank ghting back a sensation of being left behind watched the plane vanish through a point in the sky far above the horizon It is nearly ve years later Ruben rides the island39s only bike down the dirt main street He parks it near a banyan tree where burial urns were found more than 130 years ago an ancient twisted presence long thought to be the home of quotinvisiblesquot The tree its trunk recently burned out by vandals now overlooks the cooperative store that Ruben helps run It has become the town39s gathering place Supplies for the store are transported from the mainland by a boat he owns the island39s largest His mercantile energies are visible everywhere a man planing wood in the town square cradling his portable electric planer like a newborn baby says that Ruben bought it for him and he39s paying it off bit by bit Ruben says he is expecting a new diesel powered five kilowatt generator meaning more houses will soon have light quotIt helps make the days longer the nights shorter and less boring than just sitting in the dark telling storiesquot he says He steps back to let a man on a water buffalo pass quotYes my bike is betterquot he says shaking his head at the beast quotNo question this is progressquot He pats the handlebars and smiles quotEventually everyone will agreequot I am here with ledell and Judi on one of their longest visits since their mission was formally completed Judi a woman of tireless precision is gathering data for a book 011 the geneaology of the island dating to 1860 Rundell who now helps oversee the Philippine region for SIL is mostly on a sightseeing mission comparing the quotthenquot with the quotnowquot The islanders had long anticipated our arrival they had even heard about me a Jewish reporter from the United States and they joyously greeted us at the air eld and accompanied us into the village Ruben has quotbecome like Santa Claus with one new thing after anotherquot says Rundell impacking suitcases in the bedroom of their old house which has since been converted into a library quotEven Orlando is being sucked inquot Ruben39s electricity has carried a growing current of visual images He rst got a television a small one three years ago and attached it to a VCR There are now four VCR39s on the island with some of his competitors charging guests to view bootleg tapes procured from passing boats As a church elder Ruben has tried to exert quality control over what is shown A recent hit at his house was quotBen Hurquot the 1959 classic with Charlton Heston as a he man Jewish slave and chariot champion during the time of Christ quotWe thought the Jews were the world39s toughest peoplequot Ruben tells me that evening as he switches away from CNN to a station from Manila quotEveryone thought you39d be biggerquot Aweekly hourlong Philippine drama begins After a car chase and some shooting the protagonists a handsome pair end up in bed The Ibatan men snicker then taking their cue from the women quickly hush Everyone slips into a kind of group trance sit ng absolutely still as the couple roll beneath the sheets and the music swells Orlando is here sitting a few feet away with his appraising look He says he worries that these images quotwill make us feel dissatis ed with our life here This will be very bad and wrong But it39s so hard to turn awayquot Ruben seeking a n1idoourse of enlightened self interest shrugs quotMaybe it will make people strive more To get to this life they see Maybe that won39t be so badquot The next morning Rundell Judi and I go for a walk in the jungle with Frank who brings along his 18 month old son Joe We are in search of the oldest people on the island so that Judi can interview them for her book Along the way Frank tells us how the children learning about the larger world are growing away from adults Once he says quotyou could leave money out and not worry about it Now the teenagers steal it to buy what they can to watch videos at someone39s house or buy cigarettes or liquorquot The islands second liquor store was recently opened across from the school by a Filipino teacher who got his posting on the island as a political favor The rst one is run by Frank39s older brother After walking an hour in the midmorning heat we come across Joaquin an ancient loinclothed man in a tiny hut chewing on areca nut a local narcotic Judi after a few questions determines Joaquin was born in 1917 probably in May The man it turns out is Frank39s great uncle his grandmother39s brother This is not too surprising almost everyone 011 the island is related Frank holding his son gently eases under the grassy caves of the hut39s doorway and with her digital camera Judi takes a picture of the three of them crossing four generations for the book It is striking how far their paths have diverged in such a short period Frank spends his days worrying about the yield of his rice crop businesses he might start and how he39ll ever manage to send his son to college Joaquin is concerned about feeling in harmony with the quotinvisiblesquot and spearing wild pigs After the photo is taken they chat brie y about relatives The old man squatting on the oor of his hut looks quizzically at Frank who is dressed in a polo shirt and says quotIt does not look like we are relatedquot After we leave Joaquin Frank seems re ective Rundell pokes at him to get a sense of why quotWritten language gave us a way to capture our history and compare ourselves to people everywherequot Frank says after a moment quotNow that we have a past I nd that I think only of the future I always feel a clock ticking and time rushing by But Joaquin he lives always in the present He hears no clock Once that39s the way we all werequot Afew mornings later an exhausted Orlando up too late watching television studies the sky He takes in a wisp of cloud passing low and raises an eyebrow quotUsually monsoon doesn39t come this early but that wind it is the wind that brings itquot Ruben arrives and together they analyze the breeze its altitude speed and precedents for monsoon season ve months of almost nonstop rain and wind to start this early At moments like this they are most visibly quota bridge generationquot at the very forefront of change yet still employing the skills of quotthe before timequot They will be the last generation of islanders most likely to know all six Ibatan names of the wind The rain begins to arrive in large drops Children crack off shiny leaves of elephant cabbage from the jungle foliage and disappear under a laughing green canopy that twists up the mountain Orlando possesses a precious luxury an umbrella and he and I crowd under it as the full humbling ferocity of nature pours down quotIf we stick together work together we can get all that we need right herequot Orlando says quotThis is what I tell people If we stay close the umbrella is big enough for us all to stay dryquot As it turns out monsoon season is not arriving All we have is a typhoon with 100 mile an hour winds As the storm approaches the Ibatan go into a frenzy tying down boats and securing the foundations of huts Since early morning Frank has been furiously racing through his rice terraces trying to harvest whatever he can Men and women scramble madly in elds on all sides of him Despite his creativity and sense of personal destiny Frank is still bound to moments of profound helplessness and humility The timing of the typhoon is inauspicious the rice needs a few more weeks to ripen Ruben is not worried about rice and he retreats to the front porch of his safe solid house in a cluster of nara trees just across from the school He talks about the struggle with nature about the amazing resourcefulness of the old Ibatan to survive here during typhoons and volcanic eruptions Then smiling brightly at me he says quotIf you have nothing better to do why don39t we go watch TVquot He turns on the generator saunters across the tiled porch oor past a tiny plastic chirping bird with motion sensor that you might nd in a souvenir shop 011 Sunset Boulevard and upstairs to the TV George Bush39s address before Congress is just coming on and we watch intently listening to the speech and the thunderous applause quotThat39s what it is always about deep downquot Ruben says quotAbout the haves and the have nots Whether they will admit it or not bin Laden s followers are jealous of Americaquot He pauses quotIt is not easy having a lot when others have so little I knowquot Ruben39s view on how a wealthy man like a wealthy country avoids ill will is pragmatic he charges next to nothing for ice and electricity and nothing for watching his satellite TV offers modest terms for people who owe him money and contributes heavily to the common projects When his boat fortunately arrived at dawn this morning loaded with enough supplies to ll his cooperative through monsoon Ruben made sure as is his custom to dive into the surf for the hardest job dragging the small skiff out and back between the rocky shore and the boat to haul the goods to shore An hour later after 60 men had helped lift the 40 foot outrigger from the water Ruben wet and exhausted murmured quotIt39s important that I do the worst work and the hardest so they know I39m not different from any of themquot But with each day class exerts its divisions Ruben39s education and use of capital have freed him from the shared burdens of the Ibatan and from the shared purpose that ows from it Safe and warm he ips from Bush39s speech to the National Geographic channel a favorite of his as the typhoon begins to roar For ve straight days everyone is trapped indoors until the rain and winds recede and the Ibatan emerge to take stock The banana trees have been decapitated but most of the coconut trees have held Quite a few grass huts and some wooden houses will need repair The island is awash in mudslides Ruben with Orlando at his side ventures over to Frank39s house near the shoreline Like most of the Ibatan he has lost his rice crop which means he will have to sell the nine pigs he has acquired over the past few years essentially his life savings so that his family has enough to eat through the monsoon season His latest idea an ice making cooperative to freeze sh and sell ice to the growing number of large shing boats in the nearby waters is now out of reach He was planning to sell the excess of his rice crop and a few pigs for seed capital This is hard for Frank the eternal optilnist to swallow quotAgain for me it39s about survivalquot he says forcing a smile as his wife looks on The next morning everyone gathers at church the crowd owing out the doorway and standing in a light Sunday mist Rundell naturally is the guest preacher this morning and he dives con dently into Matthew 25 called quotthe Parable of Talentsquot He summons a little girl a teenage boy and a man to the stage and has them try to lift different size rocks Eventually after much laughter each picks up a rock suited to his or her strength allowing Rundell to intone about how quotGod does not judge us based 110w many talents each of us have but what you do with whatever talents you are givenquot The service closes with Frank on guitar and Ruben playing a portable organ he just bought as the Ibatan let loose With a thunderous rendering of an old Baptist chant quotStand Up Stand Up for Jesusquot Afew days later when the landing strip is dry enough for a plane to land Rundell radios the mainland for a pickup the following morning As darkness falls he invites Frank Ruben and Orlando to his house and we gather at the table They talk easily chiding laughing challenging one another39s sense of what39s needed and what39s possible Rundell leaps up to the blackboard and starts scribbling notes assessing rst the progress that has been made the church is vibrant the education up to sixth grade is strong After that if parents want their children to continue their education they have to be sent off the island to boarding academies which are too expensive for most Ibatan Commerce is growing if slowly More than half the houses have running water and electricity is spreading Then the conversation shifts to the thing most needed and Rundell starts drawing the outlines of a high school For half an hour they talk fast imagining it free form until the drawing has a gym a science lab a home economics center a library quotwith more books than we have chickens on this islandquot Orlando says Looking wistfully at the chalk marks they smile and fall silent One trap for the Ibatan as for so many across a world connected by sound and image is becoming overwhelmed with yearning In the bracing rst months of a new globalism one thing seems plain people need to feel some sense of forward motion or hope collapses It is dangerous to dream of things that are so far out of reach and the school they have just conjured on the chalkboard is precisely that a fantasy quotWhat about the bridgequot Frank pipes up Everyone knows about the bridge and Rundell erases the school and starts drawing horizontal lines The problem a dry bed running from high on Mount Babuyan to the ocean turns into a swift river during monsoon The children from half the island have to cross a rickety wooden bridge to get to school It39s hazardous Parents have complained Some kids have stopped attending Everyone including Rundell is a self taught engineer they39ve had to be and there39s rapid purposeful talk of how to build a cement bridge another rst for the island Orlando stops the proceedings quotThe long metal rods inside the cement There39s no boat big enough on the island to transport them herequot He39s right Hiring a large boat for the long trip to Babuyan Claro would be too expensive quotThere39s one wayquot Frank nally says and out it ows after the typhoon many people will be selling their pigs or cows to buy rice and the livestock brokers with the largest boats that ever come near here are probably preparing a visit Their boats are not only big they have at bottoms that allow them to get very close to the shore making it easier to load and unload unwieldy cargo quotWe need to come together so everyone selling livestock can negotiate as onequot and stipulate that the boats bring the rods on their way out he says quotThis way we can also get a better overall price for our livestock and contribute the extra to whatever modest transportation costs there39ll be for the rodsquot Orlando the voice of careful consideration nods a few times quotIt just might workquot he says Ruben quickly sketches out a swift plan for implementation and negotiating position Frank just smiles He has taken his woe and found at its dark core a kernel of possibility A plan Away for everyone to move forward to taste a bit of sweet progress in its purest form And for an instant I was certain that on this windy night a guy named Frank saved the world Even if it was just one bridge