My Cairns


At home I have two single file cairns.

For lack of a better term, I’ve called them ‘cairns,’ although the traditional cairn is composed of many stones per level, decreasing as it goes up. My cairns are simply stacks of stones, the biggest at the base and the smallest at the tip.

I’ve been making cairns since I was thirteen, when I saw many flat stones lying around uselessly at our house in Kidapawan. The first ones I made were small, just composed of nine stones. But then I grew ambitious, and soon I made cairns taller than me.


At our home here in Davao, the taller one is twenty seven stones high. It used to be much taller – thirty six stones high – and I had to climb up a nearby boulder to finish it. But since I left for Dumaguete I have had to keep it low because nobody could repair it. This cairn’s first few base stones have been stacked together for over four years now.


The smaller cairn is much more recent, only two weeks old. I built it because the taller one is hidden behind the canopy of the ficus plant growing nearby.


It makes a good landmark for tricycles or taxis – I’m probably the only person in the whole of Toscana subdivision who makes these cairns. Sometimes, morning joggers passing by also take photos of them.

I like making cairns, they stand out, but because they’re made of rocks they don’t feel artificial. Making them also involves patience and thoroughness, as you have to make sure the surface of each rock is just right before you add the next layer. Most importantly, whenever some layers, or even the whole thing, falls down, I simply build it up again – you must appreciate things as they last, knowing full well that they won’t last long, but you must not let loss prevent you from building again.

Wow, insight.


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