the Philippines has 7,107 islands to journey but here's one of the person who has already been to all the islands. "i was here when the late president Ferdinand Marcos ordered the construction of the man made lake with a replica of the Philippine islands" as manong Nephtali narrates.it was late in the afternoon when i decided to pass by this huge man made park in Luneta park Manila. i saw this man painting the signs that indicates the names and the location of the provinces found in the map. i approached him and asked if he also painted the whole man-made island replica. he said "yes" and started to tell stories about it.he proudly narrated me how he was hired during that time which he considers as his most memorable experience in this job. while i was listening to him, it was like we were going back to those days as he explained it in detail. "it was in November 14, 1968 when the city officials asked me to do a trial paint. for just a short time, i finished one island and they were impressed. on that same day, they hired me" manong Nephtali recalls.he was at the park during the Marcos' downfall but luckily they were absorbed by the Aquino government. he then took his wallet and showed me his identification card. he is an Ilonggo who at the age of twenty transferred to the city of Manila. he was hired to paint the islands in the late 1960s along with other painters and sculptors. he had a wife who died from a goiter disease and asthma leaving him four of their children. his four children were able to finish their studies in college of whom one is still under his care today. "i worked here for about 43years now, repainting the island-replica 9times from the time it was constructed" he said at the same time pointing the island of Romblon which was the first island assigned for him to paint.he also did other painting jobs for the other structures managed by the National Parks Development Committee under the Department of Tourism of the Philippines in Manila. but he already retired from this job but still chose to work for a contractual job on painting the replica of the archipelago. he just turned 65years old last March but i'm amazed at how he retained that experience in his mind and even shared it to me in detail.i asked him what he'll do next after finishing all the painting job, he said "i'll ask the park official to allow me to fix some of the damaged parts of this man-made lake. the holes causes the water to reduce a certain level everyday because of the damage". he was so determined to continue working even at the age of 65.brought him some food on that day and i asked him if he wanted something else. "i simply want a copy of these photos" he said. i asked if that was all that he wanted, he said "yes, that's all". what a simple wish?
he said that it meant so much to him that i was able to take time and listen to his stories not knowing how fortunate i was to have listened to his stories as well.