Ati men haul cement bags up the trail to Kurong Village in Malay, Aklan, Philippines.

Concrete progress in Kurong Village

It never ceases to amaze me. The sight of guys carrying bags of cement and sand up a mountain on their backs – barefoot – for $5.00 a day!

That’s what’s pictured in the surrounding photos.

They are young male members of the indigenous Ati tribe who live near us in Malay, Aklan, Panay, Philippines, where we have paused our early retirement world-wandering for more than 16 months due to the coronavirus crisis.

Thanks to the group of 18 to 24-year-old strongmen, we are able to complete our latest Ati ‘improvement project’: the rehabilitation of the hilltop Ati community ‘shelter house’ (in case of typhoon) – the only concrete structure in the tribal village.

We are sponsoring the project, like others (chicken house, electricity, running water), with the help of generous overseas donors. It’s a way to assist the impoverished Ati during the ongoing local economic turmoil caused by COVID-19.

Thankfully, the monsoon rains have stopped for a few days and allowed a different Ati building crew to install a new concrete drainage system around the shelter house which will prevent the water incursions which have occasionally happened during heavy rains.

We also pay the older Ati tradesmen $5 per day, but they don’t have to haul 30 pound sacks of crushed stone 1.5 miles uphill from the trailhead where the delivery truck dumps the stuff.

Still, they do mix the concrete by hand, the old-fashioned way – then carry and dump it using buckets into wooden forms.

Despite the backbreaking overall efforts, take a look at the professional-looking, graded, outcome below. Really nice!

Unfortunately, the other photo shows a slight hiccup in the rehab plan.

While removing the termite-damaged wooden door frame, it was discovered that the concrete surrounding the door opening was crumbling and unstable. As you can see, some of the material has been chipped away, and will need to be ‘refilled’ after a new wood frame is in place.

Not a big problem. The setback will add a couple days to the project and put us a little over budget, but thanks to the haulers and the carpenter/mason/painters, the complete job will be finished this week.

In fact, as seen in the final photo, some of the Ati tribe is already sneaking inside to see and make use of their redone shelter/meeting space.

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!

Thanks for reading, “Concrete progress in Kurong Village.”

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