[jamiesocial]

Samson is his name.

His name is Samson, and he is 50 years old. There are a handful of individuals working on the final construction at the camp. All gentlemen, these individuals work 8-12 hour days 6 days a week. They are hardy and always in a cheerful mood. Out of these men stands Samson, no higher than 5 foot 4 inches and weighing no more than 120 lbs, Samson is one of the strongest and enduring individuals I’ve met, pound for pound.

As I walk onto the construction site I am greeted by a few of the workers. Smiles are always on their faces. As I approach Samson he has a hard look on his face. His hair is dark and unusually curly, and his skin a deep shade of brown. As I raise my hand in greeting his face softens and a large child-like smile forms across his face. He gives me a “thumbs up” before he returns back to work.

Samson helping to build Camp Jansson Martial Arts Training Camp

Samson helping to build Camp Jansson Martial Arts Training Camp

We shovel dirt. The lack of heavy machinery on this construction site calls for man-power, and Samson has no shortage of the resource. Back in the United States I’m considered small, but here in the Philippines I am slightly above average sized. “His size is misleading” the thought passes as he hauls away a heavy wheelbarrow full of dirt with ease, and as he picks up cement boulders weighing just as much as him. That pales in comparison to his endless endurance.

There I am less than half way through the work day and I can already feel the telltale signs of fatigue. I push through until I feel the headache coming on. “Time to call it quits” I think to myself knowing that I am dehydrating too quickly. Samson puts his hand on my shoulder and says “Stop” noticing my fatigue, and I oblige. As he returns back to work I think to myself “I am half his age.”

Samson doing his thing

Samson doing his thing

The more I experience in my life the more I see how obscured my vision has been. Not only from my own experiences but from watching others achieve amazing feats. How much of what we have learned in our lives is misleading or a flat out lie? I ask this as we sit at a relative’s house eating lunch.

The television is on and I casually watch. It is not until the commercials hit that I realize how long it has been since I’ve watched television. All day, the message is clear, do this, do that, and you will be happy. Makes little sense, Samson has non of those things, he works long hours of labor most of us would not survive through. At 50 years old he does this with a smile a complaint never leaving his lips happy as can be.

Samson making it look easy

Samson making it look easy

The next day we stand together as the breeze moves through the trees. Nothing can be heard aside from the rustle of the leaves. Samson stands looking out towards the rice paddies, both hands are on his shovel in front of him as he smokes a cigarette rolled from a banana leaf. We hardly speak – his English about as good as my Tagalog – but it is plain to see the peace in his eyes. He may never see the glory, but Samson is a Champion worth his weight in gold and then some.

-Neil Dam