Being vulnerable is difficult. As AFM’s videographer, the idea that someone would expose their personal feelings and experiences to me, especially on camera, really humbles me and helps ground my perspective. I live for these special moments when I know that everything they are sharing is coming directly from the heart—no walls, no filters. That’s what happened recently when I interviewed Mindan and her two sisters at the Palawano Project.
Hiking up the mountain to the village of Kemantian gave me a crash course in how tough travel can be in the mountains of Palawan. The inclines are steep, the trails are slippery, and the heat is merciless. As I sent my camera drone into the sky, all I could see was an endless rolling ocean of mountains and jungle.
Kemantian offers the only medical clinic serving the tribal people in the southern region of Palawan. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for people with medical emergencies to hike in. They sometimes hike for days to get the help offered there. Some make it, and some don’t.
I knew there was a wealth of stories here in Kemantian, stories of desperate need, spiritual hunger and conflict. Some of the stories were about hellish realities that many in the West might think were fictitious. As I sat down with Mindan and her two sisters, she shared with me the most heart-wrenching story of her parent’s last words to her. I sat there completely stunned. Her tears and trembling voice connected us together. My heart went out to the Palawano people and the hardships they suffer.
As I translated the interview with Leonda George, a lady in the room had to step outside because Mindan’s story resonated too much with hers. She had lost her mother as well in tragic circumstances. Through the walls, we heard her weeping outside. Everyone in Kemantian was a walking story, full of pain and scars, searching for something better—something that can give them hope and true healing.
The morning before I hiked out of Kemantian, Mindan’s youngest sister thanked me for coming and documenting their story. She thanked me for being their voice to people who have the means to help. Chances are, these Palawano people won’t ever get a platform of their own to share about what they go through. It was a trust that I didn’t deserve, and I felt incredibly honored. It reminded me of why I do what I do.
One question stands perpetually before all of us: what have we done to share our blessings with those in need? How have we used our talents for the good of others? Have we been so complacent and busy counting baptisms, preaching sermons, and building churches that we have overlooked the power of listening and caring about a hurting soul? This is the heart of mission work. The Holy Spirit will bring the baptisms. This is my challenge to you as we continue to reach the unreached.