There is always work to be done. How you do it depends on where you are. Where you are influences what you have. What you have has bearing on how fast it can be done. In some places, work will be automated. In other places there will be some or even none. This work was done with fewer than some and more than none, although some would consider it as none. A sole cement mixer turned over and over, churning it’s contents with consistency. Sometimes with sand and other times with gravel, there was rarely a break for the little yellow mixer. Once ready to pour, the concrete was removed of it’s mixing confines and then placed on a simple sheet of plywood with 2×4′s installed on edge around the perimeter to retain the soon to be solid mass. The mixture was then shoveled into what would approximate a five gallon bucket that would be carried to it final destination. This is the bucket brigade. Back and forth, back and forth, concrete here, and concrete there. The buckets had been modified to aid in the motions required to transfer the material. Blocks of wood had been nailed to it’s inside rim. We lift while standing still, they lift in motion, never missing a step. Almost dance-like in it’s fluidity. As the bucket is hoisted to it’s resting position on the shoulder, both hands still remain to steady it’s position and to relieve pressure from the weight.
As they move across the uneven ground, their sandal laden feet skillfully set off to their destination. Many might find this unorthodox choice in shoe apparel dangerous given the work being done, some may even applaud the near-return to the natural, but probably not as many. Once through the entry-way, new dangers arise. As work is continued on the central septic line, it’s 12 inch wide trench opens in the middle of the main corridor. People are in and out of rooms, some with buckets of concrete, others with pallets of stucco. Overhead, the roof is being assembled. Sparks fly and metal slag falls precariously close to other workers. The occasional loud impact of metal and concrete occurs when chipping away conduit lines. There is a slight smell of dust mixed with a metallic tinted adhesive, the adhesive used to glue pipes and fittings. Everything is well lit, especially without the roof. There is one lone, makeshift staircase leading to the roofline, not for the easily faltered. It is one of those uneven stairs that would be laden with yellow warning tape in other parts of the world.
I write these words, and show you these pictures, not to showcase the perils of the working in the Philippines. I write this to tell you all about a people who work hard to live, but don’t work to define their lives. If anything, they define their work by their relationships with each other. They pour out into their co-workers, their families a brotherly/sisterly love that is pure. They don’t act any differently at work than they do at any other time. They are who they are and I think that we were more like ourselves because of it. Why is it that we are so wrapped up in being a different person in the various areas of our lives? At work, we are different, at home we are different, at church we are different, can’t we make up our minds? I don’t want to be two-faced (or three-faced), I want to be the same person regardless of location.