“In the past people have always avoided this part of the island road. It’s a location with only a few houses. People say that something is magical here. When you pass along strange lights are visible here and there and no one knows what it is,” tells me one of the inhabitants of Bantayan, an island of the Philippines. But the situation has changed since the devastating Taifun has destroyed many houses on Bsntayan in 2013. Now, the fishermen and their families will transfer here, to a safer place.”
He laughs and we do jokes about ghosts and magical powers, but who knows… I’m not sure whether he is convinced that it is just an old story without any meaning or if there is a hidden truth behind.
The “mysterious” zone is becoming a place to live
The magical area in the woods which we are visiting has transformed into a construction area – a few kilometers away from the seaside. Here, several houses and a birth and maternal center as well as a cooperation center are set up. The translocation and the new buildings are supported by some NGOs and the local government. The beneficiaries are approx. hundred fisher familie members who have lost everything and at the moment still live in very poor houses made out of the rests that the Taifun has left. Their traditional living area will be closed down by the government soon. It is simply too dangerous.
The strange roots
The construction work has started. Trees have been cut, first fundamentals are done.
While watching the ongoing works we walk around. Suddenly, a local project manager who stays with us stops and asks:”Have you seen the trees here and there? Have a look at the roots. When we started to work in these surroundings we discovered that these roots are different from all other roots and trees in the world.
THEY are FULL OF COCA COLA BOTTLES!”
Indeed, when we look at the roots, there are bottles of Coca Cola within the roots structure and having become a “natural” element. Some stuck – nearly invisible- inside and show up just a small part of glass. Other bottles are covered by the soil, partly broken, party filled with roots, are there. Green and transparent bottles. Very old ones. Many. At many trees around.
It is like in an irrealistic movie.
No one of the workers and people around can explain. We go from tree to tree and more and more bottles appear. On some of the bottles is written California, others are marked with the wording as San Francisco. They are all obviously branded as Coca Cola bottles. What does it mean? What has happened? How did all these bottles reach here and could grow into the trees?
Magic? A sign? Destiny? Is there any natural explanation?
We invent Robinson Crusoe stories and imagine broken American ships which passed many years ago when this part of the Bantayan island was maybe covered by water. Or we think about American soldiers who did a huge Coca Cola party many years ago while leaving all these bottles behind.
Fact is that the fisher families with many children will live here soon. Another fact is that the financial situation is very difficult and there will remain so many things to do. But no one will be able to really provide sufficient sources of income to them. Living from fishing today has become a huge challenge, even in the Philippines, a country built of thousands of islands.
The museum and help?
We do jokes about setting up a “curious Coca Cola museum”, here at the island. To build up an ecotourism.
Or the Coca Cola company reading about this misterious story and deciding to help the poor people onsite to turn back to the old life before the Taifun has come, even a better future life , one where real change is happening, where the families could start doing micro enterprises, getting professional and health education that would lead to a real change…
We think it is an amazing sign of the destiny: the blinky explanation of a real mystery in the woods of Bantayan island!
What do you think? How could it happen?
And you, Coca Cola managers in the world, wouldn’t it be an idea to do something for the fisher families?
The NGOs here are doing a great job. With some financial support in the upcoming years a lot more could be done…!!!