The Land Of Exploding Dreams
Mariel is a 13-year old Aeta girl who lives with her illiterate father and young siblings on the desolate plains of the Lahar-ravaged Northern Philippine province of Tarlac. Aetas or Agtas are an indigenous people who live in scattered, isolated plains and mountainous parts of the island of Luzon. After the cataclysmic Mount Pinatubo eruption in June 1991 many Aetas were forced to move to crowded resettlement areas in Pampanga and Tarlac.
Mariel only knows this life of scarcity and difficulty. The only thing that she wants in life is to become a teacher someday so she can teach the people in her village. Even now she is already teaching her illiterate father and siblings how to read and write. To pursue her dreams and save some money, Mariel has to risk her life everyday scavenging unexploded bombs and fresh shrapnel in a military testing facility where Philippine and US forces come to train. She needs the money for her tuition and processing her official birth records required by the nearest public school that Mariel currently does not have and cannot afford.